Transaction count is an inferior measure

  • Transaction capacity (tps)
  • Typical transaction characteristics (transaction size)
  • Settlement assurances
Sources in appendix
Blue dotted line represents the exponential best fit
Chart truncated to show a subset of the data

So what is Bitcoin for, anyway?

As shown on the chart, Bitcoin transactions tend to be quite large. It’s hard to know the precise number, but your average transaction will be in the thousands of dollars, possibly tens of thousands. Your median transaction is well over $100.

Slide from ‘Bitcoin as a novel economic system,’ my presentation at Baltic Honeybadger 2018

“Why can’t fruit be compared” — Lil Dicky

Additionally, Bitcoin’s near-immediate physical settlement opens up a large design space allowing developers to add cheaper, more convenient payments networks with deferred settlement. This is Lightning and other second-layer solutions: cheap, near-instantaneous transfers which periodically settle to the base layer. The truth is that not all transactions merit final settlement within minute of occurring; for these petty cash situations you are better off using a higher layer. Bitcoin — and increasingly, Ethereum too — is developing precisely with this in mind.

Appendix

For data collection, recency was sought. Data for major cryptocurrencies comes from coinmetrics.io. Both adjusted transaction volume and transaction count were smoothed on a trailing 30-day basis and annualized. Raw or nominal transaction volumes for cryptocurrencies are noisy and bias the figures upwards, and so Coinmetrics performs transparent adjustments and de-noising to render the figures more conservative.

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Nic Carter

Nic Carter

Partner, Castle Island Ventures. Cofounder, Coinmetrics.io