Bitcoin has long been touted as a digital currency that would gain traction where government-issued monies have failed – but is it really doing so?
Though some have written off the notion as the cryptocurrency has become more accepted as a store of value, new data actually supports the correlation. The new finding comes from Investing.com, and is based on traffic from its global user base.
The study, released this week, shows that users from five of the nations with the worst-performing currencies so far in 2017 (as determined by NomadCapitalist), visited its cryptocurrency pages more often than others.
Countries with a disproportionately high viewership included Venezuela, Argentina, Belarus, the U.K. and Egypt – all countries the entrepreneur platform views as having conditions favorable for capital flight.
Venezuela, for instance, has long suffered a serious economic and humanitarian crisis, and more than one in three Venezuelan users at Investing.com – or 36 percent – were interested in cryptocurrency information.
According to the data, Argentina had the third-highest percentage, with 15 percent of visitors from the nation accessing Investing.com’s cryptocurrency research portals.
Safe haven appeal
The data suggests that the site’s users – regardless of whether they live in South America, Europe or Africa – may be seeking to take refuge in cryptocurrencies during times of economic crisis.
Supporting this theory were remarks by Clement Thibault, a senior analyst at Investing.com. He stated that, while developed nations have an abundance of alternate investment opportunities, underdeveloped or politically unstable nations may lack such opportunities, and may be more inclined to invest in cryptocurrencies as a consequence.
Thibault told CoinDesk:
“In a place without the reliable dollar or euro, citizens might resent and distrust their financial institutions. In this case, the danger of an unsupervised currency is not only minimized, but it becomes a real advantage and place of refuge.”
In a sense, Thibault is reinforcing the popular argument that the value proposition of cryptocurrency is highest when the risk posed by holding the local currency rises.
“In the U.S. and other parts of the western world where more stability exists, we tend to look at cryptocurrencies as a nice trend, but hold reservations over the longevity of its surge and whether it is indeed here to stay,” Thibault said.
While a small data point in the scheme of things, the study also speaks to the growing prominence of this narrative in the mainstream discourse on cryptocurrencies.
For example, in conversation with CoinDesk, Ronnie Moas, founder of Standpoint Research, recently addressed Venezuela’s possible affinity with cryptocurrency.
“Imagine you live in Venezuela and you’re keeping your money under the mattress. Would you rather leave it there in Venezuelan bolivar or would you rather put it in bitcoin? It’s not going to take you very long to make that decision,” he said.
In short, the investor believes the cryptocurrency asset class is a $2 trillion opportunity, and one of his drivers is the idea it can displace traditional paper currency.
All in all, it’s a useful reminder that while investors in countries with prosperous economies tend to perceive a higher risk for investing in cryptocurrency, real use cases may be taking off half a world away.
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