The second edition of the Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study provides new insights into the current state of the cryptoasset industry. The study gathers survey data from more than 180 cryptoasset companies and individuals, covering 47 countries across five world regions. The empirical analysis specifically focuses on the following four key industry segments: mining, exchange, storage, and payments.
- Millions of new users have entered the ecosystem, but most remain passive
Total user accounts at service providers now exceed 139 million with at least 35 million identity-verified users, the latter growing nearly 4X in 2017 and doubling again in the first three quarters of 2018. Only 38 per cent of all users can be considered active, although definitions and criteria of activity levels vary significantly across service providers.
- Firms are increasingly operating across segments:
The cross-segment expansion observed in 2017 has continued: 57 per cent of cryptoasset service providers are now operating across at least two market segments to provide integrated services for their customers, compared to 31 per cent in early 2017.
- Multi-coin support is rapidly expanding:
Multi-coin support has nearly doubled from 47 per cent of all service providers in 2017 to 84 per cent in 2018; a trend primarily driven by the emergence of common standards on some cryptoasset platforms (e.g. ERC-20 on Ethereum) that has resulted in a rapid increase in the supply of tokens, airdrops and forks.
- The majority of identified mining facilities use some share of renewable energy sources as part of their energy mix
The study estimates that the top six proof-of-work cryptoassets collectively consume between 52 TWh and 111 TWh of electricity per year: the mid-point of the estimate (82 TWh) is the equivalent of the total energy consumed by the entire country of Belgium — but also constitutes less than 0.01 per cent of the world’s global energy production per year. A notable share of the energy consumed by these facilities is supplied by renewable energy sources in regions with excess capacity.
- Mining is less concentrated than commonly perceived
Cryptoasset mining appears to be less concentrated geographically, in hashing power ownership, and in manufacturer options than commonly depicted: the mining map exhibits that hashing facilities and pool operators are distributed globally, with growing operations in the USA and Canada.
- Self-regulatory efforts reflect growing industry maturity:
Industry actors are pro-actively adopting measures that appear to comply with existing regulation despite not necessarily being explicitly subject to regulations. The increasing number of self-regulatory initiatives, combined with the emergence of sophisticated and professional services, reflect the growing maturity of the industry.