This post will explore where the use/ownership of cryptocurrencies is highest and lowest and why.
Countries With The Highest Level of Adoption
A breakdown in trade relations between Turkey and the US, a failing financial system and a massive devaluation of the nation’s currency, Lira, are all factors for Turkey’s high crypto adoption rate. Citizens are seeking a way to hedge their wealth against their plummeting native currency, and have turned to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as potential safe havens. This is all furthered by the fact that the Government has a lenient stance toward crypto and allows for trading of such.
Crypto is growing rapidly in Turkey as well as 53% of the nation agreed that Bitcoin is the future of online spending. Bitcoin is also as popular as Forex in Turkey, as Forex trading is becoming more difficult because of new regulations.
High inflation rates, an infamously corrupt government, and failing banking systems are all factors driving citizens to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Brazil.
Citizens in Brazil having a high interest in crypto is not something to overlook either. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and one of the richest in Latin America. With the country revising and implementing cryptocurrency regulations, and with a median age of 32 in the country, Brazil is becoming a huge hub for crypto as well. What’s further telling of this growth/embracement of crypto is the fact that most investors in the crypto market are between 20 and 25 years old. In addition, Bitcoin’s trade volume over the past 3 years (2016–2018) has also exceeded that of gold in Brazil, a telling sign of what's likely to come in the long run.
Crypto adoption in Colombia is unique. Inflation alone is not driving citizens toward cryptocurrencies, as a rate of 3.45% is low for South America. Factors that contribute to crypto adoption in Colombia include over a million Venezuelan refugees entering over the past few years, a friendly attitude toward cryptocurrencies by the government and a massive amount of citizens being unbanked (many citizens don’t trust banks in general). Refugees that are entering the country are using various cryptocurrencies to send money internationally.
A survey done by Paxful found that 87% of polled individuals were aware of crypto and that 80% said they would consider investing. The Bitcoin ATM market in Colombia has been growing across the country as well, as citizens are more than happy to not have to deal with financial institutions/middlemen to send money.
The chart on the left speaks for itself. With inflation rates above 50% and a massive slump in the economy, citizens have turned to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for a safe haven.
Government officials have also started to look at Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a way for citizens to fight hyperinflation as well.
Many countries in South Africa face high levels of inflation. These rates can sometimes be in the double and even triple digits. Other factors that lead South African’s to crypto are political and economic instability, and fear of arbitrary appropriation of money by the government.
Many see crypto as a way of protecting their wealth, investing and sending international payments. With smart phone users expanding rapidly in South Africa, many are now using various cryptocurrencies for remittance uses as well. (See here for an in-depth report of smartphone penetration in South Africa).
Whether it is high inflation rates leading to unstable national currencies, a lack of/limited access to formal banking services, local governments recognizing cryptocurrencies in a positive light (or even negatively), or for value preservation that is without the risk of political turmoil, individuals are turning to Bitcoin and other various cryptocurrencies.
Crypto Adoption By Various Other Nations
A Word Before Diving in
While Statista Inc. provides great reports and surveys, there is still the potential that some of its findings are not 100% accurate. Considering other resources/surveys will help point out just how far along crypto adoption has come worldwide. Below are two other surveys showing ownership of cryptocurrencies by country.
Survey’s all show different figures regarding cryptocurrency ownership. One thing that is definitely clear is that Japan is a huge hub for cryptocurrency. For starters in April 2017, Japan made Bitcoin a legitimate means of payment. Japan also averages 11% of global trading volume for Bitcoin. This places them in either second or third place for the largest economy for Bitcoin.
The country is also a leader in cryptocurrency acceptance, regulation, and legalization. Crypto has been recognized as a type of money since 2016 in Japan. The country has also put a lot of thought into crypto regulations as they have banned the trading of privacy coins, sighting money laundering is the main reason. There are 3.5 million citizens trading cryptocurrencies in Japan and among men aged 25–30, 14% of them own cryptocurrencies, which is a very high adoption rate. While the surveys above show mixed results, it is clear that crypto adoption in Japan is higher than in most other places.
United Kingdom (GB)
At the moment the United Kingdom does not have any laws that regulate cryptocurrencies. It also hasn’t banned cryptocurrencies in general. The Government currently does not believe that the industry is big enough “to warrant dedicated measures.”
Survey’s also vastly different as to the extent of ownership of cryptocurrencies in the nation. A consumer survey report conducted by the U.K Financial Conduct Authority found that only 3% of the population have bought any cryptocurrency in the past. In addition, only 7% of those who haven’t bought any cryptocurrency claimed that they would be open to purchasing such in the future. 70% of those surveyed in the country claimed to have never heard of the technology in general and didn't know how to define what a cryptocurrency is. As is evident, the crypto markets in this country are very nascent and have a long way to go.
Adoption and awareness of crypto is picking up in the states. While the Government has yet to issue regulations specific to digital currencies, many States have begun adopting their own crypto/blockchain regulations.
The ownership of cryptocurrencies has risen dramatically in the US as well. According to a survey done by Finder, the amount of people who own cryptocurrencies in the US has almost doubled from 8% in 2018 to 14.4% in 2019. This is a massive increase (~80%) in one year. About 36 million Americans now own either Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency. An article from Coinbase, found here, does a good job of laying out some key findings regarding the growth of crypto/blockchain.
The government of India has a very strong stance against cryptocurrencies in general. The country does not recognize Bitcoin as legal tender, and the Reserve Bank of India, in 2018, issued a notification “prohibiting banks, lenders and other regulated financial institutions from dealing with virtual currencies.” In addition, a Government committee recently proposed an outright ban of cryptocurrencies , with a mandatory 10-year sentence for anyone holding such. It seems the future of cryptocurrency in India is quite uncertain, and is up to the government/banks as to how this will all play out.
South Korea’s Government, since 2018, has recognized and allowed the trading of cryptocurrencies through regulated exchanges. The government is very pro blockchain as well, as they announced a fund of about $1 trillion won (USD ~$900 million) to spend on development/research of such in 2019.
According to a report by Cindicator, South Korea accounts for approximately 30% of total cryptocurrency trading worldwide. In addition, about 30% of all salaried workers own or trade crypto assets of some kind. Adoption is being furthered because of the massive exchanges present in Korea as well, as some of these exchanges are partnering up with other platforms to enable crypto as a payment option to several thousands of locations in the nation. All of this should come as no surprise as Koreans have been early adopters of new technologies for decades now. One thing is for sure is that the surveys above do not properly gauge South Korean’s familiarity with cryptocurrencies.
In 2013, the German Finance Ministry announced that Bitcoin and all cryptocurrencies are “units of accounts” and therefore are financial instruments. Cryptocurrencies, in general, are not classified as virtual currency or digital money; the Bundesbank recommends using the term “crypto token.”
While all three surveys above place crypto adoption at less than 5%, other reports show different results. According to a report by Blockchain Research Lab, 18% of all adult Internet users in Germany either currently own (9.2%) or have owned some crypto (9.1%) in the past. Even considering those that only own crypto now, i.e: 9.2%, this rate is still high compared to other nations. There are also new regulations coming up in 2020 which would allow financial institutions to hold and trade crypto assets. The Merkel administration this September also launched a “national Blockchain Strategy, to pave the way to the token economy.”
A once harsh critic of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, in general, is now jumping into the race. President Xi, on October 24, stated that blockchain tech was an important breakthrough and called for the country to accelerate its development and adoption of such technologies. This is a radical change from China’s earlier stance, where they banned ICO’s and crypto exchanges in 2017. China is also set to launch its own state-run cryptocurrency, the central bank digital currency (CBDC), and new crypto laws that will take effect in early 2020.
Citizens of China have long been interested in cryptocurrencies for various reasons. Some of these reasons include the Government’s stringent control of the yuan, the instability of the yuan, and cheap energy and hardware in the country. China has been a leader in Bitcoin mining for these reasons as well, with some reports stating that the country is home to 71% of Bitcoin mining pools. With a population of almost 1.4 billion people and a new stance on crypto, adoption of such in China is set to grow very rapidly.
While the surveys above show that the current rate of adoption of cryptocurrencies is low in most nations, this can all change very quickly. Most, if not all, nations are either considering or establishing new laws for blockchain technology. These new laws are more blockchain/crypto-friendly as well as opposed to previous ones. Awareness of crypto is growing everywhere as well as some are turning to crypto for investment opportunities or to have a currency outside of anyone nations control.
This trend of ownership/adoption is likely to only increase as well as the younger generation (millennials for the most part) are more likely to invest in crypto. With distrust at an all-time high among millennial’s than any other generation, it is no wonder that they are turning to crypto.