The worldwide adoption of bitcoin began with countries that resisted the control of their centralized fiat currencies. Nigeria, El Salvador, Ghana and other countries have seen a growing trend for “how to buy bitcoin” Google searches for more than five years, despite some hiccups.
Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, has had an exciting journey since its inception. Starting at a price of less than $1, it reached an all-time high of $69,000 in 2021. However, in the bear market that followed, it slipped back to trade at $17,000. Over the years, bitcoin has experienced several of these crypto winters. It has also been declared “dead” over 400 times.
Google search trends are still strongly correlated with BTC price movements. The graph below shows the last five years in terms of price versus Google searches for BTC.
The popularity and hype of bitcoin in its various bull cycles has caused a stir in regions around the world. This can be seen with the search query “how to buy bitcoin”, which not surprisingly skyrocketed in late 2017 and 2020.
The metric peaked here in the 2017–18 period (a value of 100 is the peak popularity for the word). However, it has declined since then. This is due to various factors, including the collapse of the exchange and tighter regulations.
Here are the details of the countries that stood out in this list, which was compiled by BeInCrypto in descending order.
In Nigeria, the search query ‘how to buy bitcoin’ has been high since 2017. Currently, the metric is at 45. Interest peaked in mid-2020, as evidenced in the plot below:
Why is that the case? Why is Nigeria ranked #1 here compared to other countries?
Crypto adoption in Nigeria is developing at an exponential pace. The country currently accounts for over 50% of monthly active adult crypto investors. Due to the continuous devaluation of Naira many citizens are in favor of storing their money in fiat currencies.
It is estimated that a third of Nigerians have already invested in bitcoin.
Nigeria’s crypto adoption, similar to most other developing international locations, is driven by inadequate financial services. To make up for this inadequacy, Nigerians started using crypto as an opportunity to save and protect those savings.
In 2021, the Nigerian government introduced eNaira, a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Nigerians have been reluctant to adopt Einara because of its centralized control. This shows a great deal of mistrust in the powers that control the money supply.
BeInCrypto reached out to sources in Nigeria to comment on the rise of crypto adoption. A Twitter account named ‘nigeria bitcoin community Gave us their opinion:
“BTC adoption rate in Nigeria is high because governments do not help in any way, and youth are looking for any way to make money for themselves, and crypto seems to be the best option for many.”
It further said:
“Even though crypto adoption in Nigeria is growing rapidly, we have some roadblocks here, the government has banned all banks in Nigeria from being traders of any crypto exchange, meaning that anyone in Nigeria with their Can’t buy bitcoin or any cryptocurrency through bank card or directly.bank we use p2p system here.”
In the second half of 2021, El Salvador will become the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender (though this is often disputed as Japan passed a similar act in 2017). The beginning of the road was bumpy. The country faced various technical problems and a drop in the price of bitcoin at the same time.
A year in, most major franchise chains in the capital accept bitcoin via smartphone wallets. Furthermore, the Salvadoran government introduced a network of 200 Chivo Bitcoin ATMs to introduce consumers to BTC.
Government officials in El Salvador claim that the introduction of bitcoin will increase the affordability of services, expand payment options and increase financial innovation.
facing some issues
Success could encourage other countries to adopt cryptocurrencies. However, as seen from the graph, interest in bitcoin is waning, especially for many skeptical El Salvadoran sellers.
BeInCrypto reached out to a spokesperson for La Union, a municipal organization in El Salvador’s La Union Department. When asked about any positives regarding the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender in the region, we received a one-sentence response that read:
“Nothing positive has happened.”
President Nayib Bukele continues to take important steps to promote bitcoin adoption.
Beyond El Salvador, countries such as Colombia and Argentina have very high rates of adoption of bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. Latin America is certainly no stranger to periods of high inflation or monetary repression, which increases the general public’s affinity for cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin is believed to pass the test of inflation because its supply is limited. Only 21 million bitcoins will ever be created. Thus when the demand for bitcoin increases its value also increases. The finite nature of money prevents inflation and can potentially help reduce global poverty.
Let’s now turn our attention to Central Europe. Slovenia, in particular, is leading the way in crypto adoption.
The country is fast turning into the cryptocurrency and blockchain capital of Central Europe. With such rapid adoption rates, Slovenia’s government is experimenting with new legislation that will allow it to properly assess crypto holdings and transactions of individuals and businesses for taxation purposes.
In Q1 22, the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia (FURS) proposed a tax rate of 10% for crypto-to-fiat swaps. The same tax rates will apply to any purchases made with cryptocurrencies. How much taxation could affect the country’s crypto future remains to be seen. For now, the country’s capital, Ljubljana, has become a haven for crypto enthusiasts.
Locals can forget their fiat currency and traditional payment methods such as credit cards at home and live a typical day with their crypto holdings. There are 137 businesses and 584 locations in the city that accept cryptocurrencies as a payment method. Slovenia has more physical sites that accept crypto payment methods than the entire United States.
BeInCrypto reached out to multiple representatives operating in the country, however, we have not yet received a response.
Ghana, like other African countries, has been a victim of rising inflation and debt. The revenue earned by the government has increased by 70% to compensate for the pending loans
Despite warnings from the country’s regulators, locals in Ghana have backed bitcoin to ease the pain.
Google Trends indicates that Ghana is among the top 5 international locations for running queries on bitcoin.
In its State of Crypto: Africa report, Arcane Research showed an organic and growing interest in cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin ownership in Ghana is said to be over 900,000, which is over 3% of the country’s total population.
Meanwhile, Ghana also ranks exceptionally high in bitcoin mining interest.
Cryptocurrency exchange Paxful also opened a Bitcoin Technology Center in Ghana, as it shared in a December 21 tweet:
Georgia has always been a leader in many aspects of bitcoin adoption. Like most other top crypto-adopting countries, Georgia received significant help from the government. Five years ago, it became the first country to use blockchain to register property transactions.
In the period up to 2022, the government took several initiatives to systematically introduce cryptocurrencies into everyday financial transactions. Over the past year, Georgia hosted the first international Web3 conference led by DeGameFi and announced efforts to legalize cryptocurrencies by adopting EU standards. It also collaborated with several crypto exchanges, such as Binance, to encourage more institutional adoption of blockchain.
While the government continues to make efforts, the general public continues to adopt crypto mostly through P2P transactions and a network of bitcoin ATMs.
Speaking to BeInCrypto, a local news agency stressed that the country is already working to drive bitcoin adoption across the region.
India is easily one of the largest markets for bitcoin, especially considering the country’s huge population. The interest in bitcoin can be seen in the plot below:
Three main factors are driving bitcoin adoption in India. First, there is a growing cultural movement driven by crypto meet-ups in major cities with diverse audiences ranging from prominent global CEOs to teenagers. This surge of interest from such a diverse audience encourages more people to join the movement and participate in the industry in varying capacities.
The large influx of capital into Web 3 and blockchain projects is another factor driving adoption. In 2015 and 2016, $1 million in grants for founders building crypto companies was considered a huge achievement. Today, founders can easily raise $2-3 million in just a pre-seed round.
The third factor driving BTC, and blockchain adoption at the government level, is the heavy focus on state and central government projects such as land registration, blood banks, the Public Distribution System (PDS), and remote voting chains implemented on blockchain. While these projects do not have a tokenized approach, they are a big step towards wider blockchain adoption.
However, many regulators and high-ranking officials still speak of bitcoin and crypto adoption because of the massive influx of scams and frauds in the space.
Bitcoin can be a valuable tool in helping local people struggling with their respective economies and centralized authorities.
Since its arrival in 2009, the price of bitcoin has grown exponentially. However, it still sees little use as a means of payment. One reason for this is the constraints on bitcoin’s capacity and processing transactions. These constraints hinder its scalability compared to centralized public giant structures such as Visa or MasterCard.
However with the increase in the second layer Lightning Network, bitcoin users can more easily make instant transactions at lower fees.
One of the companies that has been included in the Lightning Network is Strike. According to a report shared with BeInCrypto, Strike also received an additional $80M in funding to strengthen bitcoin payments for merchants.
BeInCrypto also contacted Strike CEO Jack Mallers for comment but has not yet received a response.
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