China and Nigeria top the list of Bitcoin-expanding Nations in 2017

Bitcoin trading expanded faster this year in emerging markets than developed ones — and quickest of all in places where authorities tried to crack down. Somewhere, Satoshi Nakamoto is smiling.

 After all, avoiding bank and government oversight, and sidestepping the eroding effects of inflation, was what Nakamoto had in mind when he (or she, or they) created bitcoin in 2008.

Peer-to-peer bitcoin trading in major developing nations outpaced the U.S., the world’s biggest market, according to data from LocalBitcoins. Demand surged in China and Russia, where central banks put a stop to local exchange trading; in Venezuela, where authorities cracked down on bitcoin mining even as hyperinflation drove up demand; and in Brazil and Colombia, where citizens heard dire warnings of cryptocurrencies’ risks.

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Nigeria, which sits atop the Trends’ list, saw peer-to-peer transactions rise almost 1,500 percent this year, as the country went through a foreign exchange market overhaul that led the naira to weaken 12.4 percent this year. An almost 1,000 percent rise came in Venezuela, where bitcoin provided a way to skirt the government’s tightening controls on access to U.S. dollars and spiraling inflation that slashes the value of the bolivar.

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Google Trends data also hints at growing interest from emerging-market users, according to Bogart. Five out of the six countries where “bitcoin” has the most search interest are developing nations, he says.


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