Countries interested in Bitcoin are growing in number, but in some countries Bitcoin is more popular than in others. The results might look surprising. According to Google Trends, South American countries rank highest in Google Search queries for Bitcoin. We put together a list of top 5 countries where Bitcoin appeared to be the most popular search trend. It seems that online interest in Bitcoin is greatest in the developing world.
5. South Africa
Citizens of South Africa are exposed to high cross-borders transactions costs. This environment propels the use of Bitcoin. South Africa is home to a couple of local Bitcoin exchanges and one of its largest online marketplace BidorBuy has introduced Bitcoin as a payment method on its website. Moreover, The South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) is interested in Bitcoin and open to issuing a national digital currency, which would likely be based on Blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology.
A small nation of 2 millions, located at the crossroads of European cultural and trade routes, has become known in financial technology circles. Slovenia is home to one of Bitcoin largest exchanges Bitstamp. Slovenia is a part of integrated Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and its population is interested in Bitcoin and has good knowledge of cryptocurrencies, which makes the country increasingly popular among blockchain enthusiasts.
Nigeria is another African country where Bitcoin is embraced by consumers and enterprises. Most people are interested in Bitcoin as investment vehicle as well as a valuable tool to bypass expensive remittance solutions. Similarly to most African countries, cross-national transactions are costly in Nigeria and the country heavily relies on affordable money transfer services such as Bitcoin. The country also went through its worst recession in decades driving people towards alternative financial solutions. Today, if people in the capital want to send money to their family in the countryside, they have to physically put money in a bag and send it on the bus. At the moment, the digital currency is considered safer than to keep cash or funds in bank accounts.
Colombia’s poor banking infrastructure represents a great potential for Bitcoin to deliver innovate solutions. The Colombian Bitcoin ecosystem is growing very fast but with some hurdles on the way that make it harder for the Bitcoin providers to operate. Although Bitcoin is not considered illegal, Colombian banks restrict themselves from “touching” it.
Bolivia is a controversial country when it comes to the use of Bitcoin. The government of Bolivia banned the digital currency back in 2014. The resolution of the government is twofold: to protect the Boliviano from being outcompeted by cryptocurrencies and to protect citizens from possibly losing money if there is a cryptocurrency collapse. However, the local Bolivians think that this reasoning is ironic and that the primary threat to the Boliviano is not Bitcoin but the Bolivian central bank itself.
People who live in Bolivia are interested in Bitcoin because they do not trust the government to direct monetary policies. They have suffered for decades from chronic hyperinflation, banking crisis, and currency restrictions. Bolivia also has a high-rate of unbanked individuals which could benefit from adopting Bitcoin. According to World Bank’s Global Index only 11% of population use debit cards and only 5% of population use credit cards to make payments. This large informal economy and turbulent history of inflation create great opportunities for Bitcoin to improve the economic situation in the country. But it seems that Bolivia still has a long way to go.
Image Credits: Google.com and Google Trends
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