Do 2,200 crypto assets really matter? The top 100 cover a lion share of 98.5%

Although there are now many different crypto assets on the market, not all of them have the same relevance. This article presents which crypto assets deserve the greatest consideration in terms of market share, and which data and analysis strategies can be used to justify this statement. — Authors: Philipp Sandner, Felix Bekemeier

With the growing interest in distributed ledger technologies and the associated emissions of crypto tokens (e.g. currencies), the amount of data generated by these processes is increasing at a lightning speed. There are already first considerations and trials to conduct “on-chain” analytics in more detail and to gain new knowledge about the agent behavior in DLT networks. For this purpose, it must first be clarified which data is to be analyzed exactly and to what extent. CoinMarketCap so far reports more than 2,200 crypto assets. CryptoTax is able to report taxation reports for financial authorities for so far 3,900 crypto assets. In this article, a first starting point of this analytics process with regard to market capitalization is presented. We answer the following question with the help of an extensive data set on various crypto assets: What is the share of the top 5, respective top 10 and top 20 tokens concerning total market capitalization of crypto assets?

How many crypto assets are really important concerning the total market capitalization?

The main (popular) crypto assets (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum etc.) show a high concentration and claim the lion share of market capitalization. In total, approximately 2,200 tokens are issued so far and have been taken into account (listed on CoinMarketCap in May, 2019). This enormous variance reveals the question of the overall relevance of the individual tokens. The corresponding video (link below) quickly explains that the top 10 tokens yield 86.8% of the total “market share”.

Overall, the top 100 tokens easily reach a total share of about 98.5%. In turn, this also indicates that the other tokens (rank 101 through 2000) only represent 1.5% (if at all) of the total market capitalization. For April 2019, our calculations (based on only the top 600 crypto assets) result in the following characteristics of the cumulative distribution function:

  • Top 5 tokens: 78.1% of total market capitalization
  • Top 10 tokens: 86.8% of total market capitalization
  • Top 20 tokens: 92.5% of total market capitalization
  • Top 50 tokens: 96.6% of total market capitalization
  • Top 100 tokens: 98.5% of total market capitalization
  • Rank 101 through 2000: 1.5% of total market capitalization

The cumulative distribution function and the relative shares of total market capitalization are pictured in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Cumulative distribution function and relative share of total market capitalization of top crypto tokens

Summary

Given this result we can assume that, economically speaking, only the top 100 tokens have some importance whereas the other 1,900 tokens are not significantly important from a market capitalization perspective. This may be partly due to the high dynamics of the crypto asset market. Especially in recent years, many innovations have emerged that have been spurred on by some specific tokens in particular (e.g. smart contracts with Ethereum) but also the high popularity of the “origin” crypto token Bitcoin makes an enormous contribution to this situation. With the expected token regulation in 2019, at least in Germany, but also possibly at a European level, this landscape will certainly be redesigned.

The further analysis of crypto market data, not only market capitalization data, but also accurate data on trades and other indices of agent behavior in DLT networks, will be of enormous importance for further understanding of the technology and managing future implications. In the broader sense, this will also apply to on-chain data that needs to be analyzed in a different context.

How to analyze the data on your own

This explanatory video answers our overall question in more detail. It also provides a step-by-step screencast where interested persons can replicate this computation in Excel and can easily do such computations on their own: accessing ITSA data, downloading them in the Excel file format and easily doing such calculations within a couple of minutes.

Datasets of the International Token Standardization Association (ITSA)

ITSA truly believes in the growing importance of the global token economy and the vast transformational potential of distributed ledger technology for traditional industries. Therefore, ITSA provides easy to use datasets which can be used with a double click. You are welcome to try it out. Open the following file (takes 1 minute) to see a basic dataset about the top 5 tokens (based on a snapshot as of 2019–01–01):

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1bu97ul_18xv06YF0ke9D5OaDdwax4imC

If you click on this link, you can download one of our basic datasets: token characteristics and daily/weekly data from token markets (i.e., prices, volumes, market capitalizations) of the top 5 tokens (e.g., Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple). Further datasets are provided in the course of an ITSA membership. See here: http://itsa.global/data/

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Authors

Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner has founded the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC). In 2018 and in 2019, he was ranked as one of the “top 30” economists by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a major newspaper in Germany. Further, he belonged to the “Top 40 under 40” — a ranking by the German business magazine Capital. Since 2017, he is member of the FinTech Council of the Federal Ministry of Finance in Germany. The expertise of Prof. Sandner includes blockchain technology in general, crypto assets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, the digital programmable Euro, tokenization of assets and rights and digital identity. You can contact him via mail (email@philipp-sandner.de) via LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter (@philippsandner).

Felix Bekemeier is project manager and research assistant at the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC) at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. He analyzes the microeconomic impact of Distributed Ledger Technologies. Furthermore, his research interests are the future of money theory and policy as well as further applications of blockchain technology. You can contact him via mail (felix.bekemeier@fs-blockchain.de) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/felix-bekemeier).

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