Bitcoin user adoption is starting to accelerate around the world. Economic uncertainty around hyperinflation, bail-ins, negative interest rates and quantitative easing is shaking investor confidence in the legacy financial system. The global economy is currently in a $152 trillion debt bubble, causing banks and governments to implement draconian monetary policies.
Wealth preservation is becoming increasing difficult and it’s possible we’ll see more people looking for assets that are insulated from the traditional markets. Bitcoin’s decentralized nature makes it an appealing asset to hedge one’s portfolio.
Looking at the overall bitcoin stats it appears that bitcoin user adoption is on the rise. The six main sets of data that we’ll be exploring are fundamental causes, trading volume, network transactions, wallet users, market capitalization and price.
Bitcoin trading volume is on the rise globally. Although volume stats alone aren’t necessarily indicative of user adoption, it does add weight by showing an increase in liquidity.
Many new bitcoin exchanges are surfacing all over the world. Obscure exchanges in new countries may not have a lot of liquidity but they serve an important role in providing infrastructure for locals to acquire their first bitcoin. Combine all these exchanges and their user base and the numbers start to add up.
Worldwide peer-to-peer bitcoin volume is on the rise. This volume is generally an indication of genuine buying demand, since the premium makes it unfavourable for trading.
Despite Russia’s attempts at banning cryptocurrency, user adoption has been increasing. Peer-to-peer volume in Russia is showing exponential growth and has doubled in six months.
The Russian ruble fell to all time lows at the beginning of 2016, with the RUB/USD rate at 0.0125. The government reacted by trying to pass legislation to inhibit capital flight such as a ban on USD bank accounts and bitcoin. The ruble has been on a slow recovery and it appears that Russia is easing up on its bitcoin restrictions.
LocalBitcoins appears to be one of the most popular ways to trade bitcoin in Russia. BTC-E and their subsidiary xBTCe are the two most popular exchanges for Russian traders. Although not the most liquid currency pairing, BTC/RUR has had a trading volume increase this month on xBTCe.
Recently the Indian government declared a war on cash by banning 500 and 1000 ($7-$14) note rupees in an attempt crack down on “corruption”. India is a cash based society and these notes accounted for 85% of the cash in circulation.
Many people in India keep their savings in cash and declaring these notes worthless meant that they had to deposit them into a bank account. The government imposed a 45% tax on suspicious cash deposits and 200% penalties for deposits over $15,500 that weren’t declared.
Since the recent “cash grab”, demand for gold has skyrocketed in India with prices going as high as $2294 an ounce. In response to its citizens buying gold as a safe haven, the Indian government may impose a ban of all gold imports.
The recent cash crises is boosting bitcoin adoption in India. Demand for bitcoin in India has pushed the price up to around $1000 USD.
Indian exchange ZebPay has reported an increase in inquiries by 20-30% and currently has 200,000 users. India now has several bitcoin exchanges such as ZebPay, Coinsecure, Unocoin, Btcxindia, Bitcoin-india and Bitxoxo. There’s also a new Indian bitcoin mining pool called GBMiners, which has 3.4% of the hashrate.
Google trends searches for “buy bitcoin” has spiked to an all time high in India.
Japan is becoming a serious contender in the global bitcoin markets due its recent increase in trading volume. BitFlyer is the leading Japanese exchange and pushes more volume in yen than any USD exchange. Its most recent 24/hr volume stat is $7,966,940.
Other Japanese exchanges and their 24/hr volume include Quoine ($6,451,830), Zaif ($5,649,219), BTCBOX ($4,557, 940) and Coincheck ($2,273,580).
Cryptocurrency is legally recognized as a currency in Japan, which makes it easy for financial institutions to invest in bitcoin and crypto related businesses. It’s now even possible to pay utility bills in BTC.
The Venezuelan economy is being crippled with hyperinflation, driving the value of the bolivar down to all time lows.
Hyperinflation is destroying the wealth of Venezuela and the government is imposing strict capital controls, leaving its citizens as bagholders of a near worthless currency.
Given the economic turmoil, some people in Venezuela have been looking towards bitcoin as an alternative store of value. Localbitcoins is seeing record breaking volume in Venezuela for bitcoin purchases.
China is still the dominant country for bitcoin trading volume, price discovery and mining power. Most of their exchanges are zero fees, so many suspect that their volume stats are faked with wash trading bots.
Although it’s not possible to determine the exact volume coming out of China, they are the market movers for price discovery and still show an increase in trading activity.
The Chinese yuan has undergone several rounds of devaluation this year, which increased bitcoin buying pressure in the CNY/BTC markets. China generally leads the bitcoin bull trends and sometimes takes a price lead as high as 10% over the USD exchanges.
BTCC moved into the spotlight this month, taking over as market mover on several occasions with record breaking volume.
Other dominant Chinese bitcoin exchanges such as Huobi and OKCoin also had a noticeable increase in trading volume.
The number of transactions on the bitcoin network is showing linear growth.
Transaction growth alone isn’t an indication of increased demand because it’s possible for a single user to send multiple transactions to the same wallets. Smaller transactions with zero or low fees may never get confirmed on the network. That said, we’re also starting to see an increase in confirmed daily transactions.
Although there were a few parabolic spikes in 2013-14 for transaction value, the current base average of value moved on the network is increasing.
Several major hot wallet providers have been showing an increase in their user base. Blockchain.info is starting to show exponential growth in the amount of wallet users.
Bitcoin’s market capitalization is approaching close to the all time high of $12 billion. The main difference between now and the 2013 peak is that there is 3,959,100 more bitcoin in circulation.
The marketcap of altcoins for 2016 is higher than any other year. Altcoins are predominantly used for speculation and their trading volume counts towards bitcoin volume stats because BTC is the dominant currency pairing.
Bitcoin is limited in supply and a boost in user adoption can increase buying pressure and the price. The bitcoin markets have been on a year long bull trend that may be more sustainable than the parabolic pump of the 2013 bubble.
Decreased mining rewards combined with more infrastructure and a greater user base has the potential to drive prices into new highs for 2017.
There also appears to be more interest in bitcoin amongst legacy investors. Here’s a list of several news events indicating financial institutions may be hedging into bitcoin:
- South Korea’s Shinhan Bank is launching a Bitcoin remittance service
- PwC wants banks to use bitcoin
- Large investors become major buyers of bitcoin
- Bitcoin may counter central banks
- Bitcoin finds room in small funds
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