A new study has found that in 2021, the annual volume of transactions on the Bitcoin network exceeded the volume of some well-known card networks such as American Express (AmEx) and Discover.

A report from NYDIG Research Weekly on Saturday said that Bitcoin has processed $3 trillion in payments during 2021, placing it above popular credit card networks American Express ($1.3 trillion) and Discover ($0.5 trillion).

The authors of the report, NYDIG global research director Greg Cipolaro and research analyst Ethan Kohoff, also found that the Bitcoin network stabilized more transaction volume in the first quarter of 2021 than “all credit card networks combined for the entire year.”

“In our view, this is an astonishing growth for a payment network that has just celebrated its thirteenth birthday,” they wrote. American Express issued its first card in 1958 and opened in 1985.

However, the Bitcoin network still has a long way to go before it catches up with Visa and Mastercard, which have processed $13.5 trillion and $7.7 trillion in transactions, respectively.

It should also be noted that the study only looked at the value of transaction volume in USD, not the actual number of transactions. Therefore, it is likely that most Bitcoin (BTC) transactions were only made by users who bought, traded, and sold BTC instead of using it to pay for anything.

Although the growth in Bitcoin transaction volume has not always been linear year-on-year, Chipolaro and Kochav stated that it “maintains an accelerating pace when looking at 5-year compound annual growth rates.”

“By the end of 2021, transaction volumes had been growing nearly 100% annually for the past five years.”

In November 2021, a Blockdata report estimated that by 2026, the Bitcoin network could match the dollar value transferred to the Mastercard network. It has also been found that the Bitcoin network is already handling more dollar volume than PayPal.

According to the report, in 2021, the Bitcoin network processed approximately $489 billion every quarter, which is more than PayPal’s $302 billion.

Related: Bitcoin Takes PayPal in Transferred Value, Mastercard Spots: Report

The measurement of Bitcoin transaction volumes does not refer to the raw cross-chain transaction volume, but “relies on statistical analysis from data providers (such as Glassnode) to exclude transactions without financial content.”

The report includes “intra-organization transactions”, which are transactions between addresses in the same wallet or belonging to the same institution. This could, for example, refer to a cryptocurrency exchange that often moves bitcoins between different addresses. In other words, the $3 trillion figure should probably be taken with a grain of salt.

Source: CoinTelegraph