Bitcoin processed $13 trillion in payments by 2021; 20% more than Visa

Bitcoin processed $13 trillion in payments by 2021; 20% more than Visa
Key facts:
  • The annual value traded on the Bitcoin network grew 469% in 2021, compared to Visa’s 15%.

  • More than 95 million Bitcoin transactions were processed in 2021.

The annual volume of Bitcoin transactions in 2021 reached USD 13.1 trillion, which exceeded the total value of transactions processed by Visa in the same period, which was USD 13 trillion. Likewise, the value of Bitcoin transactions was 20% higher than payments made with Visa, according to the Ark report Big Ideas 2022.

Ark notes in its report that the annual volume transferred on the bitcoin network grew from USD 2.3 trillion in 2020 to USD 13.1 trillion in 2021, this represents an increase of 469% of the annual volume.

According to Visa’s operational summary between 2019 and 2021, the growth in the total annual volume of transactions is much less pronounced. Visa reports a total volume of USD 11.3 billion for 2020, which increased to USD 13.0 billion last year, representing an increase of only 15%.

The table and graph presented below summarizes the information on Bitcoin transactions in 2020 and 2021. The average daily volume is specified there, which was $35.9 billion for Bitcoin, a figure that is slightly higher than Visa’s daily average of about USD 35.6 billion.

Volumes transferred in Bitcoin in 2020 and 2021
Volumes transferred in Bitcoin in 2020 and 2021. Source Ark Invest.

As for the value of the average bitcoin transaction in 2021, it was USD 136,555, which allows us to estimate the number of transactions that year. In 2021, just over 95 million transactions were processed in Bitcoin.

Innovation and access vs. speed

While the total value of transactions processed by Visa in 2021 is very close to that of BTC in that year, when only payments are considered, Bitcoin turns out with an appreciable advantage. Of the USD 13 billion processed by Visa in 2021, USD 10.4 billion correspond to payments made on that network. Ark points out that, in percentage terms, the annual volume of transactions in that year exceeds the total of payments made on the Visa network by 20%, as can be seen in the previous graph.


In the following table of the results offered by Visa, it is found that the number of annual transactions on that network is much higher than that processed on the Bitcoin network: 164.7 billion. It follows from this that the average transaction value on the Visa network is $19.28.

It is thus verified that while in the Bitcoin network it is normal for transactions to be made for thousands of dollars, the average transaction in Visa is small, since it corresponds to day-to-day payments. As bitcoin adoption grows, everyday payments in bicoin will become more frequent and its average value will tend to decrease.

Financial summary of volumes processed by Visa between 2019 and 2021. Source: Visa.

The number of transactions on the Bitcoin network compared to those processed by Visa, also reflects the speed of the latter compared to those executed on the bitcoin blockchain. In contrast to this disadvantage, the co-founder and partner of Broadhaven Ventures, Michael Sidgmore, highlighted in an interview with Bloomberg TV that access to bitcoin payments may be more important than speed, since a large number of users from emerging countries are starting to receive remittances through bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

“The main goal of Bitcoin is not to go faster, but to unlock access to the economy and financial services, both for individuals and companies. Particularly in emerging countries, for example in Latin America and Africa, there are important use cases around bitcoin remittances,” notes Sisgmore.

It is significant that Bitcoin, with a little over 13 years of operation, has been able to surpass Visa in the annual volume traded, compared to the 64 years that have elapsed since the founding of Visa. It is also notorious that transactions in Bitcoin, not depending on a trusted third party and having no time restrictions, can be carried out without censorship and sent in minutes to anywhere in the world.