Bitcoin: 2016 in Review
Jameson Lopp
Jan 9th, 2017/31 minutes to read

In addition to my day job as a BitGo engineer, I run, a site I created in 2014 to track Bitcoin metrics from the perspective of a full node.

I’ve always been fascinated with the raw numbers relating to the status and growth of Bitcoin, especially as the hype cycle is turned up or down, depending on popular sentiment. To that end I’ve compiled statistical measurements of Bitcoin’s growth in 2016 from a variety of sources.

Before we dive into the metrics, one thing is clear: Bitcoin is at the center of an increasingly complex ecosystem that continues to grow in a variety of ways. It is difficult to see all of the moving pieces since statistics are spread across many sources, but the picture becomes more clear when you bring them all together.

General Interest Statistics

Academic interest continues to rise. Note that Google Scholar stats usually lag by several months, thus we expect the 2016 number will continue rising:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 1

Willy Woo graphed some academic paper stats:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 2

Search interest was once again on the rise:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 3

Bitcoin was proclaimed dead another 28 times:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 4

Mining Statistics

Hash rate tripled (technically it increased 200%, not 300%):

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 5

Hash rate accelerated at the fastest rate ever. This is equivalent to adding a 14 TH/S Antminer S9 every 4.5 minutes:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 6

Hash power become more decentralized:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 7

The worst case attack scenario for an entity to brute force rewriting the entire history of Bitcoin’s blockchain dipped quite low but then shot back up. This is a unique measure of Bitcoin’s network security:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 8

Miner revenue surged:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 9

Transaction Statistics

Average transactions per second increased about 50%

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 10

As contention for limited block space increased, the usage of dynamic transaction fees surged:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 11

Transaction fee estimates also surged as users vied to outbid each other:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 12

Transaction fees relative to block subsidy rose, offering some hope that Bitcoin will continue to be able to pay for its own security as the block rewards decrease in the coming years:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 13

Median time to confirm rose, pointing once again to demand for block space exceeding available supply:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 14

The size of the unspent transaction outputs set increased, suggesting that there are probably more unique entities owning bitcoins:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 15

In fact, we created a net new UTXO every 3 seconds:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 16

Network Statistics

Reachable node count held steady after falling for the past several years:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 17

Block propagation times halved:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 18

OP_RETURN outputs increased 60% year-over-year due to a rise in popularity of anchoring services such as Blockstack, Colu, and Counterparty:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 19

Percentage of full blocks increased throughout the year:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 20

The total size of Bitcoin’s blockchain doubled:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 21

Development Statistics

Activity on the dev email list went back to “normal” levels:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 22

IRC activity moved over to the core dev room:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 23

Bitcoin Core had a fair amount of Github activity:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 24

You can see an excellent visualization of Core’s github activity here:

Economic Statistics

VC funding fell back to 2014 levels:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 26

More Bitcoin payments were processed than ever before:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 27

Bitcoin was once again the world’s best performing currency:

Bitcoin 2016 in Review 28

With an exchange rate increase of 123%, Bitcoin’s “market cap” increased past $16B, earning it 69th place globally in terms of M1 money supply.

All in all, 2016 was a good year for the Bitcoin ecosystem. We’re looking forward to seeing more growth in 2017!

Thank you to BitGo for Business for publishing this piece.

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