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How Rich Could You Be If You Invested in Crypto Sooner?

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Image Credit: jukai5/DepositPhotos

Nobody likes having that feeling of “what if.” Unfortunately, in the crypto sphere, those feelings can be even more pronounced. You could have lost out of millions (if not billions) of dollars by not jumping on the crypto bandwagon a decade ago.

But how rich might you be if you’d had the same foresight as some of those early crypto adopters?

Make sure you’ve got a box of tissues handy— you’re going to need a lot to wipe away all those tears.

(Note: The figures in the article all refer to crypto’s price at the time of writing, not the all-time highs of early 2018.)

Become a Bitcoin Billionaire

Cast your mind back to mid-2010. Bitcoin had already existed for more than a year, but we were just starting to see the first articles about the technology pop up in the mainstream media. We were still a few months away from the first commercial transaction taking place (the infamous 10,000 BTC pizza).

How much would you have needed to invest in mid-2010 to be a billionaire today? The answer—a mere $4,500.

That’s right, $4,500 invested into Bitcoin on 17th July 2010 would have given you $1,066,071,040 USD based on today’s prices. At the time, 1 BTC was only worth $0.04 USD.

Perhaps even more gobsmacking, that figure of just over $1 billion would make you one of the top 2,000 wealthiest people in the world (you’d be in position number 1,940 to be precise).

Oh, what might have been…!

Become a Bitcoin Millionaire

Suppose you didn’t have $4,500 to invest back in 2010. How much would you have needed to invest on the same day (17th July) to be a millionaire in the present day?

We hope you’re sitting down… You’d have only needed to risk $4.50 of your cash. That’s less than the price of a Starbucks coffee in exchange for a seven-figure bank balance. And today, you’d be able to buy more than 300,000 Starbucks coffees with your newfound wealth, which we’re sure would more than have made up for that one missed day!

Even if you missed those first few crazy months, the chance to become a millionaire from a modestly sized investment persisted for a long time. As recently as April 2015 the price of Bitcoin was hovering just above $200, meaning an investment of $20,000 would have netted you a million dollars in only four years.

With $1 USD You Would Have…

If you were a cash-strapped student back in 2010, perhaps even $4.50 was too much for you to invest.

So, how about $1? Surely you could have afforded that. If you did, you’d have $236,619 today. Even $0.50 would have landed you $115,000.

Following the line of logic, $0.10 would have bagged you more than $20,000 and even a miniscule $0.01 would have given you $2,000 in 2019.

To Be the Richest Person in the World

Let’s go the other way. Instead of scaling down the amount of your theoretical initial investment, we’re going to scale it up. Let’s look at how much money you’d have needed to invest in 2010 to be the richest person in the world today.

A $10,000 investment would have got you a space in the top 1,000 with a net worth of $2.3 billion. Add an extra zero, and you jump into 33rd place with $23.6 billion.

$200,000 leaves you in 11th spot with $47.2 billion. That’s enough to own more than half of Starbucks.

If you wanted to be in the top three, you’d needed to have invested $310,000, giving you $73.2 billion today.

And to be the richest person in the world? You’ve have needed to throw $375,000 into Nakamoto’s creation. Today, you’d be looking at a bank balance of $88,499,852,226. Obviously, $375,000 was never feasible for the vast majority of people, but it’s still an fun experiment. In the context of global finance, $375,000 is peanuts.

Other Key Dates

Okay, let’s look at some other key dates; not many people were sufficiently aware of the technology in 2010 to make an investment.

For each of the following examples, we’ll assume you invested $1,000 on the given date.

  • 28th November 2012 (the first Bitcoin halving): $949,060 USD
  • 28th March 2013 (Bitcoin’s market cap first passes $1 billion): $135,300 USD
  • 19th November 2013 (1 BTC value passes $1,000 for the first time): $17,220 USD
  • 17th January 2015 (the lowest point of the 2014 crash, 1 BTC is worth $197): $55,100 USD
  • 15th December 2018 (BTC reaches its lowest point of the 2018 crash when it hits $3,200): $2,630 USD

What About Altcoins?

No altcoins can come close to provide the same level of returns as you could have theoretically enjoyed by investing in Bitcoin, but there were still plenty of opportunities to make yourself wealthy from a small investment.

If you’d put $1,000 into Ethereum on the day of its launch, you’d be sitting on more than $70,000 today. A grand into NEM in March 2015 would give you more than $150,000. And the same amount invested in Litecoin in 2013 would have given you $30,000 today.

It’s Not All Rosy

There are some coins—especially newer ones that launched during the ICO era of 2017/18—where you’d be sitting on a loss if you’d invested on day one.

Perhaps the most notable is Bitcoin Cash. It’s now trading at around $330; that’s almost $100 down on its price at the time of the fork. If you’d bought $1,000 of BCH in early 2017, you’d be down $240 today.

To make sure you don’t throw money away for no reason, make sure you read our article on crypto investing tips for beginners before you hit the markets.

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Dan Price
Dan has a background in both finance and technology. Previously, he worked for more than five years as a private financial consultant, advising clients on single investments, fund portfolios, long-term savings, and more. Dan holds professional qualifications from the UK's Chartered Insurance Institute, including a Certificate in Discretionary Investment Management and a Diploma in Financial Planning. Dan also writes for Blocks Decoded's sister publication, MakeUseOf. He started at the company in 2014 and has gone on to hold several key positions in the organization. In mid-2017, Dan finally started to invest in crypto. He is a firm advocate of index tracking funds and automated portfolio balancing. He's currently using the Crypto20 token and Hodlbot for exposure to the top 50 coins.
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