China, Kenya and Pakistan saw record volumes on LocalBitcoins for the week of 2016-06-11. However, new data from Coin.dance for the week of 2016-06-18 shows that trading in the digital currency is exploding in many other countries. Bitcoin trading volumes in Brazil, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are through the roof.
According to data provided by InternetLiveStats, Brazil is home to 4.1% of the world's internet users, with 139,111,185 Brazilian citizens using the internet on a regular basis. In 2015 alone, Brazil added approximately 13.6 million new internet users, and for the first half of 2016, an additional 6.7 million Brazilians have come online. While the South American nation has 66.4% of its citizens using the internet, 40% of the population does not have access to traditional banking services, according to TheGuardian.
Brazil's IT infrastructure, along with the country's sizable unbanked population, may serve as fertile ground for the rapid proliferation of digital currencies like Bitcoin. And that is precisely what Michael Dunworth, Co-Founder and CEO of San Francisco-based digital currency payment processor Snapcard, predicted would happen at the start of 2016, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine. This trend is already starting to become clear when looking at volumes on LocalBitcoins for the week of 2016-06-18, which registered an all-time high of R$ 320,108. This is a massive increase compared to previous weeks, which seldom went above R$ 200,000.
During the recent World Economic Forum on Latin America, held in Medellin on June 17, 2016, CEO and co-founder of Philippines-based credit scoring firm Lenddo, stated that FinTech and digital currency firms in Latin America are hampered by excessive and inadequate regulations. However, last week, Colombia saw its first Bitcoin exchange, Colbitex, launching in beta mode, which allows Colombian digital currency enthusiasts to familiarize themselves with the technology and the trading platform. Colbitex is scheduled to launch with real digital currency trading in July, according to Finance Colombia.
Colombia's rising annual inflation - which is currently at 8.2%, about double the government's estimates of 4% - may also be contributing to the increasing popularity of Bitcoin and the sharp rise of LocalBitcoins trading volumes in the country. According to Coin.dance, Bitcoin trading in Colombia reached a record 167,854,108 Colombian Pesos.
Just like Colombia, India is also experiencing higher inflation. Recently released figures put India's annual consumer price inflation at 5.76%, while food inflation ballooned to 7.55%, according to Reuters. Since 2014, the India Rupee has lost about 10% of its value when measured against the US Dollar. Bitcoin's recent appreciation, along with India's inflationary economic environment, is likely driving interest in the digital currency among Indian investors looking to preserve purchasing power. LocalBitcoins trading volumes did spike towards the end of 2015, but last week's spike set a new record of R16,802,958.
Bitcoin's meteoric rise over the past two weeks has also spurred many investors in Malaysia to start diversifying. While LocalBitcoins volumes in Malaysia have been trending higher since 2015, last week's spike is something to behold. For the week of 2016-06-18, Malaysian LocalBitcoins volume came in at RM 574,275.
The crash in oil prices has had a dramatic effects on Norway's economy and currency. On March 17, 2016, Norway's central bank cut its key interest rates to 0.5%, a 25 basis point cut, and Governor Øystein Olsen said at the time that rates may be cut even further. Two days later, Coin.dance showed the biggest spike in LocalBitcoins trading volumes in Norway, which registered kr 698,310. However, last week's trading volumes set a new record in Norway: 777,231 Norwegian Krone. Low interest rates, coupled with the possibility of further cuts, or even negative rates, seem to have sent Norwegians fleeing to alternative asset classes like Bitcoin, which are immune to central bank meddling.
The Russian Ruble has recovered somewhat against the US Dollar since the beginning of the year, but the Russian currency has lost about 50% of its value since June of 2014, when the USD/RUB was trading at 33.85! Despite various draconian anti-Bitcoin bills being proposed by various members of Vladimir Putin's authoritarian regime, LocalBitcoins volumes in Russia are surging with each passing week. A new record of 190,649,763 Rubles was recorded on LocalBitcoins for the week ending on 2016-06-18.
Unlike the Russian currency, the Saudi Riyal has been pegged at 3.75 to the US Dollar for a decade. But recent economic instability in Saudi Arabia, along with the oil price crash, have forced the Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency to ban dollar-riyal forward options contracts in order to curb speculative trading. Some of that speculative money may now be finding its way into Bitcoin. While LocalBitcoins volumes in SA have been quite sporadic for the past two years, May and June volumes have been consistently high, a pattern not seen in the past two years of available data. Of course the biggest volume registered for the week for 2016-06-18, which came in at SAR 48,275.
Venezuela's rapid descent into economic chaos, triple-digital inflation and social anarchy has not dented trading volumes on LocalBitcoins, in fact, the opposite seems to be taking place. The previous record, which was recorded for the week ending 2016-05-28, has been broken with a new all-time high reading of Bs 83,863,783 for the week of 2016-06-18. The rapid collapse of the Venezuelan Bolivar has sent Venezuelans straight into Bitcoin.
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