Bitcoin trading volumes boom in crisis-hit countries

October 16, 2018
Chris Wheal


LocalBitcoins reports record bitcoin P2P trading volumes this month in three countries: Shutterstock

Bitcoin trading volumes on the peer-to-peer (P2P) platform LocalBitcoins have reportedly reached record levels this month in Argentina, Venezuela, and Egypt.

By contrast, Croatia and Switzerland are among the countries at their lowest levels since the start of 2018.

The website notes that Argentina’s  continuing economic crisis has persuaded many to flock to bitcoin (BTC) as a haven for their wealth. Since last April fiat currency the peso has sharply declined against the dollar, severely weakening the spending power of residents.

BTC automated teller machines (ATMs) are being rolled out across the country by two ATM manufacturers, Athena Bitcoin and Odyssey Group, with the latter planning to instal 1,600 by the end of 2019 and many merchants already accept BTC payments.

Argentina’s government recently struck an accord with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to receive additional financial support, but the country’s financial woes persist. This month, the adoption of BTC in Argentina has seta record of almost $9m in BTC trading volume of the LocalBitcoins platform.

Venezuela’s woes

While severe, Argentina’s economic problems are eclipsed by those of Venezuela, where new BTC trading volume records are set almost daily.

According to data from Coin Dance, despite the BTC price decline Venezuelans have increasingly been involved in trading the top-ranked cryptocurrency. To date, total P2P BTC trading volume for October stands at almost 900 million bolivars (about US$14.4m).

The popularity of BTC trading undermines the Venezuelan government’s attempts to float the state-issued petro cryptocurrency. Reports suggest little demand for the petro or even evidence of its existence although the government recently mandated that payments for travel passports be made in the national cryptocurrency.

Unlike the two South American countries, Egypt’s record BTC trading volumes appear linked to the country’s economic recovery since reforms were initiated in 2016. According to Coin Dance, Egyptians have traded more than one million Egyptian Pounds worth of BTC.

Rest of the world

Elsewhere, P2P BTC trading levels are steadily increasing across South and Central America. Chile, Colombia, and Mexico all show October BTC trading volumes well above the 2018 average.

However, in Europe volumes peaked in the first quarter of 2018 and have since declined significantly. This month Croatia and Switzerland are both recording their lowest trading levels for the year to date.

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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