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Crypto Adoption Center Moving Towards Emerging Markets

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

There are more and more signs that the emerging markets are becoming increasingly important players in the adoption of cryptocurrencies.

Source: iStock/PeopleImages

Digital payments, including cryptocurriencies “are experiencing a boom, driven by developing markets” – including several African nations, concluded the World Payments Report 2018, compiled by French banking group BNP Paribas and IT consultancy Capgemini.

The report speaks of a “non-cash boom” that is being “driven by developing markets.” And although data shows that Russia, India and China are the most “notable movers,” companies and individuals in African states are becoming wary of cash – and increasingly crypto-keen.

“In terms of market share, the mature markets account for 66.3% of global non-cash transaction volumes in 2016. In the past 10 years, however, they have lost about 20% of their share to developing markets that are leapfrogging the legacy payments systems prevalent in mature markets and adopting advanced payments technologies. Only mature Asia-Pacific countries such as Australia, Japan, and Singapore increased market share by growing at double-digit rates,” according to the report. However, the report does not include more recent data, as cryptocurrencies boomed in 2017.

CAGR: Compound annual growth rate, CEMEA: Central Europe, Middle East and Africa. Source: The World Payments Report 2018

The report singles out South Africa as the sole country in Africa that has warmed up to the use of cryptocurrency.

However, it also notes that Ghana and Kenya are both described as being in a phase of “consultation” regarding their acceptance of cryptocurrencies. Interestingly, the report uses the same terminology to describe Singapore – a country that is world-renowned for its pro-fintech and initial coin offering (ICO) stance.

The report’s authors also make mention of Nigeria, noting, “The central bank of Nigeria has also imposed a complete ban on Bitcoin and the likes.”

Cryptocurrency- and fintech-related developments are coming thick and fast in Sub-Saharan Africa this week, as leading exchange platform Binance opened a branch in Uganda. In Rwanda, meanwhile, the government has teamed up with a British blockchain firm for a project that will allow for conflict-free tantalum sourcing.

Late last month, the head of Kenya’s government-appointed blockchain taskforce called for Nairobi to “replace cash with tokens,” citing Kenya’s youth population’s growing interest in crypto pay and digital tokens.

A Citibank report published earlier this year found that Kenyans were the fifth highest bitcoin holders per capita in the world, with South Africa placing sixth.

As reported by, contrary to the popular belief, the real crypto revolution is happening in the emerging, not western markets, according to Magdalena Golebiewska, head of Eastern Europe region at Luno, a Bitcoin company boasting two million global accounts.

People in the emerging markets, such as Africa and Asia are actually starting to use cryptocurrencies for transactions, she said recently. According to her, it is estimated that in 2025 up to 50% of global population will live in the emerging markets.