(New Scientist) Bitcoin is booming. But many researchers close to the world's most feted cryptocurrency are expressing concern about the security of its assets, and the stability of the economy that has grown up around it.
Jonathan Levin at the University of Oxford runs Coinometrics.com, a website dedicated to capturing a statistical picture of Bitcoin as a working economy. Since the record of all Bitcoin transactions is public, Levin has used it to gather data about the distribution and movement of bitcoins.
His research has shown that 35 per cent of currently existing bitcoins – worth roughly $3.5 billion at today's exchange rate – has not been touched for at least a year. "There are addresses with up to 120,000 bitcoins that have been sitting there for three years," he says.
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Levin is concerned that if the owners of those large, idle hoards suddenly started making lots of transactions or cashing in, it could lead to a lack of confidence in the Bitcoin economy.