The Geography of Bitcoin: Where it’s Popular – and Where it isn’t

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BITCOIN

Bitcoin hasn’t made its mark on the planet just yet – at least, according to the most bombastic claims of its proponents, it hasn’t. It’s not worth $10 million per coin and it only occupies the minds of a small segment of society. An article from Yahoo! estimates that there are north of 300 million cryptocurrency users on Earth, though, a figure that’s roughly the same as the population of the United States. So, why is Bitcoin still considered a niche – even novelty – payment option?

Popularity

The answer is twofold. Firstly, there’s significantly more than one cryptocurrency in use. So, the popularity of Bitcoin and that of crypto can be mutually exclusive things. For instance, Dash, Ethereum, and Dogecoin were all growing at a much faster rate than Bitcoin in 2021. Secondly, the uptake of Bitcoin for everyday purposes is uneven, geographically speaking, which means that its popularity can be concentrated in particular areas, much like fiat currency can be.

Again, according to Yahoo!, the use of cryptocurrency is not a Western thing at all, with the vast majority of the top ten “crypto countries” found in Asia, Africa, and South America. Just 16% of people from Turkey, 11% from Switzerland, 6% from the USA, and 5% from Germany replied in the affirmative when asked about their usage of cryptocurrency. Compare these figures to the 32% of Nigerians and 21% of Vietnamese who pay for things with cryptocurrency.

Oddly enough, it’s debatable whether any of these countries can be considered the most crypto-forward places in the world, simply because they haven’t gone for the whole hog yet, and cash still rules their respective roosts. In Nigeria, for instance, people use the naira (₦) while Germany is dependent on the euro (€). It’s worth noting that there have been a number of efforts to make crypto a de-facto currency, though – or, at least, something that is on equal standing with paper and coins.

Liberland

In an infographic entitled 17 Crazy Facts About Bitcoin, the casino comparison site BitcoinCasinoWiz highlights a handful of places that have attempted to make cryptocurrency part of daily life. El Salvador makes the list, as the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. This means that it can be used anywhere that the US dollar can be. President Nayib Bukele described the Mesoamerican nation as “the epicentre of Bitcoin adoption” while admitting that its use was still an experiment.

Other countries to pounce on Bitcoin are Switzerland, which has a Bitcoin-dedicated bank, and The Netherlands, where a Bitcoin embassy recently emerged. On a smaller scale, the Isle of Man capital Douglas boasts a restaurant that takes Bitcoin payments. However, the most bizarre of Bitcoin’s advocates is arguably the Free Republic of Liberland, a micronation nestled between Serbia and Croatia. Unfortunately, nobody actually lives in this 2.7 square mile plot of land.

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