There are many ways to measure the size of the Bitcoin such as the number of transactions or total transaction volume. However, these are not easily comparable to other assets and so typically the size of Bitcoin is expressed as its market capitalization, which is simply the total $ value of all the Bitcoins that exist. Using the market capitalization (also known as market cap) value we are able to compare the scale of Bitcoin with other cryptocurrencies, gold, stocks or any other asset class.
At the time of writing, one Bitcoin is equal to $563.34 (all dollar values are Canadian dollar unless otherwise stated) and there are 15,218,600 Bitcoins in existence (out of the ~21 million that will eventually be created) and so the market capitalization (which is simply the two multiplied together) stands at ~$8.6 Billion. The following chart shows how the market cap has varied over the history of the Canadian Bitcoin Index with its peak being some ~$13 Billion on December 4th 2013.
Such large numbers can often seem quite abstract and why it is helpful to provide comparisons for scale (we often hear of icebergs many times the size of Manhattan for example). Whilst $8.6 Billion will buy you around 865 Million Tim Horton donuts or 75 Million tickets to see the Canucks the values of Canadian biggest companies provide a useful benchmark.
A company’s value or market cap is similarly determined by calculating the value of all shares outstanding. In Canada, the largest of these companies are listed on the $TSX index which is made up of 240 companies with a combined valuation of ~$1.5 Trillion dollars (that’s probably equivalent to a Timbit the size of Manhattan). The smallest company has a valuation of ~$300 Million with the largest, currently the Royal Bank of Canada, having a valuation of ~$101 Billion. Bitcoin’s current market cap of ~$8 Billion fits nicely into that range.
Using the TSX data and historical Bitcoin data from the Canadian Bitcoin Index it is possible to display Bitcoin’s relative position to the largest Canadian public companies. As this list includes the likes of well known brands such as Blackberry (~$4.8 Billion), Canadian Tire (~$7.9 Billion) and Telus (~$23.4 Billion) it presents the scale of Bitcoin in a more easily digestible way.
At the time of writing, Bitcoin is currently as large as the 47th largest Canadian company, which is Dollarama Inc (who, somewhat ironically for a Bitcoin article, operate dollar stores throughout Canada). Canada’s largest company the Royal Bank of Canada has a market cap of ~$101 Billion some 12 times larger than Bitcoin.
Depending on which side of the Bitcoin fence you currently sit there is a conclusion to be drawn here. For those skeptical of Bitcoin, it is clear that it has reached a scale of some legitimacy and for those more bullish of Bitcoin’s potential, it is clear that Bitcoin still has a long way to grow.
Note: The stock data is updated daily so any sharp intraday moves by the constituent stocks will not be represented until the following period.