Long gone are the times when cryptocurrency was just a niche, far-fetched revolutionary ideal for the people who dreamed of achieving social change through technology, and those who could sniff a good investment.
The hype for crypto has turned into reality, with Bitcoin - the world’s most famous cryptocurrency exchange - now counting over 180 million users globally and over 18,000 businesses across the world currently accepting cryptocurrency payments.
But cryptocurrency hasn’t taken off the same way in every country, with its adoption and use being sporadic across the world.
Which countries are crypto hubs?
A new study by Merchant Machine, a payment processing comparison website, has found that the US, Ukraine, and the UK are the top 3 countries for crypto use worldwide, based on the number of crypto owners, businesses that accept cryptos, and the amount of Bitcoin ATMs available.
The US has the second highest number of crypto owners in the world, over 27 million compared to India’s over 100 million, but the country has the highest percentage of crypto owners compared to its total population.
The number of Bitcoin ATMs across the U.S. also eclipses that of any other nation, with over 33,000 machines compared to Canada’s 2,458. By further comparison, India has only 2 Bitcoin ATMs.
The US has also one of the most powerful economies in the world, which could explain how crypto has taken off there. But the same explanation doesn’t justify why crypto has become so relevant in Ukraine.
This is the full list of the top 10 countries using crypto the most:
8. The Netherlands
How has crypto become so relevant in Ukraine?
The reason Ukraine is the second country after the US in terms of crypto use is, unfortunately, due to the war which has been unfolding in the eastern European nation since February 24 when Russian troops invaded.
The country had started embracing cryptocurrency before the beginning of the war and was already ranked fourth for cryptocurrency adoption among its citizens in 2021 in a global index compiled by Chainalysis, a crypto research group.
But as soon as the war against Russia broke out, the Ukrainian government took the strategic decision to expand its use of crypto to support its economy.
On the second day of the war, Ukraine’s digital transformation minister Mykhailo Fedorov reportedly asked his deputy to set up official government wallets that could accept payments in cryptocurrency.
Thanks to this bold move, Kyiv has already raised more than €120 million in crypto since the beginning of the Russian invasion which has helped to support its troops and buy military supplies.
Where can you do business with crypto?
There’s a big difference between owning crypto and being able to get around with crypto, paying for goods and services with digital currency.
In fact, the Merchant Machine’s ranking of countries with the highest number of businesses accepting crypto payments in 2022 looks quite different from the ones ranking crypto adoption. The noticeable difference is the number of European cities on the list.
These are the 10 cities with the highest number of businesses accepting payments in crypto:
10. Amsterdam, The Netherlands (27)
9. Vienna, Austria (34)
8. Madrid, Spain (35)
7. Berlin, Germany (39)
6. Bangkok, Thailand (39)
5. Athens, Greece (43)
4. Paris, France (46)
3. Seoul, South Korea (47)
2. Caracas, Venezuela (58)
1. Bogota, Colombia (86)
The reason Bogota has so many businesses embracing crypto may be related to the fact that the city’s authorities announced a programme in 2021 to finance blockchain companies to turn the Colombian metropolis into a smarter city.
A budget of 2.8 billion pesos (€660,000) was devoted to funding start-ups and developing useful initiatives.
In Venezuela, on the other hand, crypto has been filling the gaps of a failing economy, as hyperinflation and US sanctions have combined to depreciate the Venezuelan currency to the point of making it almost worthless.
Elsewhere, Merchant Machine found Vietnam to be the only country with no businesses currently accepting crypto.