Cryptocurrency is a decentralized currency that works outside traditional systems. It provides the owner with a personal wealth outlet that can’t be restricted or confiscated in the same way that “normal money” might be. Digital transfers take place rather than physical ones. These transactions are recorded and verified on blockchains that track what people own and trade. Projected annual growth rates of 14.40% are expected for crypto revenue by 2027, making it a potentially lucrative investment. But which global markets are leading in crypto? This guide will explore how different regions and countries have embraced cryptocurrency, and how it is most commonly used in different areas.
Crypto Use In Different Regions
Cryptocurrency is often described as being ‘volatile’—because it is mostly unregulated, a range of factors (including supply, demand, and competition), can all affect its value.
To give you a better example of this volatility, statistics show the Bitcoin price index rose from just $135.30 in April 2013 up to a high of $61,837.26 in October 2021. That’s an impressive 45,603.8% increase.
The popularity of crypto in different countries and regions varies significantly, as does its use. Take a look below to learn more about the regions that have embraced crypto and the reasons behind it.
Cryptocurrency ownership in the United States has grown from 5% of the population in 2019 to 16% in 2023. Ownership in the U.S. can be put down to a range of factors, with many owners wanting to ‘play the market’.
Digital payments, technological innovation, and potential investment opportunities are all significant factors in the strength of crypto in North America.
The institutional adoption of crypto by banks, hedge funds, and asset management firms has given an additional level of legitimacy to crypto. There’s even the option to take out a crypto loan, enabling users to borrow cash against their crypto collateral. This makes it a more acceptable system among those that thought of it as a trend, something to be treated with caution previously.
Another reason cryptocurrency has increased in popularity is to circumvent gambling restrictions in certain states. For example, some online casinos are registered offshore and accept Bitcoin as a payment method instead of USD, allowing US-based players to enjoy their favorite games legally.
European crypto use varies significantly between countries. In the UK, growth has been a bit slower. This could be attributed to fewer businesses accepting crypto for payments—it’s certainly not as widely used as in the US as yet. And, returning to the theme of online gambling, the list of apps that SportsLens provides shows that the UK is far behind the US in crypto casinos. This is down to more relaxed gambling laws in the UK: players have access to a variety of UK-licenced sites and see less of a need to turn to offshore options.
In contrast, the rise in the use of crypto in Ukraine can be put down to far different reasons. The recent political conflict saw their government expand its crypto use. The purpose of this was to support the economy and minimize the risk of Russian sanctions. It also provided an opportunity for capital to be raised.
Asia’s highest-ranking countries in terms of crypto ownership percentages include the United Arab Emirates at 31%, Indonesia at 29%, and India at 27%.
Crypto promotes financial inclusion and is an alternative to traditional financial solutions in countries where the poorer people in society are often excluded. It is also useful for migrant workers that send remittances back to families in their home countries. Again, this goes to show the variety of uses these digital currencies have and why they have grown so much in different parts of the world.
South America has a number of countries with high crypto ownership. Brazil and Argentina lead these statistics with 28% and 26% of their respective populations—considerably more than in the US. Argentinian employers are even starting to pay employees with cryptocurrencies, and it has the most employees paid with crypto in the world. What’s more, the low cost of electricity in Argentina has caused it to become a hotbed for crypto mining.
A surge in inflation, the popularity of NFTs, and asset tokenization were driving factors for a rise in crypto ownership in Latin American countries in recent years. On top of this, El Salvador became the first country to recognize a cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) as a legal tender back in 2021.
Statistics indicate that as much as 47% of Nigeria’s population owns crypto. Along with Turkey, this is the highest of any country by a long distance. The nearest African country is South Africa with 22%.
The use of crypto in African countries is similar to that of many Asian countries. Their unbanked populations find crypto an accessible asset regardless of their socioeconomic status. And, remittances and cross-border trade with neighboring countries are also strong forces behind the popularity of crypto in Africa.
As you can see, the use of cryptocurrency has expanded in recent years for a variety of reasons. It is likely that this trend will continue and we might see an influx of UK investors and businesses that welcome cryptocurrencies in the future, and perhaps another country will soon have more crypto owners than Nigeria.