You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin and the new types of crypto coins the past year. Digital tokens continue to grow in popularity, and the global adoption of crypto assets increased by 881% in the past year. The world has begun to accept the idea of digital money, and that disruption has altered the public view of technology-based finance.
Unsurprisingly, countries across the globe have taken different stances towards digital assets. Cryptocurrencies are unregulated and decentralized, and that opposes the current financial system used by most governments. But even the staunchest critics have begun to welcome the new form of value and its underlying blockchain technology, and many countries now consider it an avenue to generate wealth.
It appears that crypto, alt-coins, and digital money are here to stay, so let’s take a look at what cryptocurrencies are and how governments across the globe are approaching the new form of digital payment.
What is Cryptocurrency?
A cryptocurrency is a digital form of money that uses cryptography to record and secure financial transactions on a public ledger. Since the public ensures the validity of each crypto asset on the ledger (in most cases built from blockchain technology), it is considered decentralized because no single member controls or regulates supply.
Most cryptocurrencies use tokens to determine their value and facilitate exchanges. Since each token has no underlying asset, the price of an individual cryptocurrency relies on benchmarks such as the USD or other crypto tokens. Supply and demand determine price fluctuations, so you can consider each cryptocurrency as a type of “digital gold.” Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency and has a limited supply (21 million).
Any unregulated form of money with no asset base involves risk, and that is part of the reason why governments have shied away from cryptocurrencies. But digital cash manages that risk with its public ledger, providing better privacy, security, liquidity, and payment flexibility.
Digital Money Around the World
It is much easier to transport, buy goods and services, and send payments with digital cash. The reliability and transfer speeds of digital tokens can disrupt the slow and outdated financial systems of fiat money, so countries around the globe have warmed to the idea of cryptocurrency.
North America has accepted Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as forms of money, but extensive government regulation continues to slow the broader use of digital tokens as payment.
About 13% of Americans traded cryptocurrencies in 2020, but institutional purchasing by corporations should drive change. 36% of small businesses now accept Bitcoin, and corporations such as Home Depot, Tesla, Starbucks, Walmart, and Microsoft all have Point of Sale (POS) systems for crypto tokens.
The Federal Reserve first disregarded cryptocurrencies but has since put numerous regulations to help protect crypto users from fraudulent activity and scams. Further change and governmental acceptance are apparent with the feds unveiling their own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
Asia is responsible for the largest retail adoption of Bitcoin, with many emerging markets taking advantage of the digital coins and their ability to store value outside of the U.S. Dollar (the world’s reserve currency).
Data platform ChainAnalysis measured the increase in peer-to-peer crypto exchange use, with Vietnam, India, and Pakistan taking the top three spots. Bitcoin use in Vietnam even doubled year over year, most likely due to the influence of Bitrefill, a crypto-based gift card exchange company.
Conversely, China declared that all cryptocurrencies are illegal, causing dips into crypto asset prices and lower usage within the region. All mining, exchange transactions, and bank transfers with crypto assets are forbidden while the authoritarian government creates a digital Yuan.
South and Central America
El Salvador committed a historic ruling and became the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender. All Salvadoran businesses must now facilitate payments via Bitcoin. The unprecedented legislation sparked renewed interest in cryptocurrencies in Latin America:
- Paraguay: lawmakers presented a bill to turn Bitcoin into a commodity and thus collect taxes on it, a move met with much disdain from crypto users.
- Panama: Congressman Gabriel Silva presented Crypto Law, a bill designed to promote Bitcoin as the future of Panamanian money.
- Brazil: The Brazilian House of Representatives approved bill 2.303/15 to make Bitcoin legal tender, stating that it is a recognized asset for real estate and daily retail purchases.
Other countries such as Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina are all exploring cryptocurrency to solve high inflation problems and the cost of USD remittances.
Even though many African nations do not officially recognize cryptocurrencies as a form of payment, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa report extensive transaction volumes in consumer and commercial markets. Kenya traded over $920,000 worth of crypto assets per week in the first quarter of 2021. The private development of a Kenya-based digital token, Akoin, is in place (with backing from wealthy rapper Akon).
In South Africa, recent data suggest that close to 50% of all South Africans own a cryptocurrency, and Nigeria received over $2.4 billion worth of crypto assets in the first quarter of 2021, volume second only to the United States. The Nigerian government scrambled to prevent such untaxed money supply, outlawing crypto exchanges before establishing a government-controlled token called eNaira.
Is the Future of Money Digital?
While governments grapple with control over unregulated digital tokens, the benefits to GDP growth, cross-border payments, remittances, and flexible payment solutions make cryptocurrency and its technology unavoidable. Worldwide demand for digital tokens and governmental attempts to create individual coins shows how valuable blockchain-based assets are to global markets.
While a hot wallet to hold digital tokens is not a requirement for most people who use fiat money, the opportunity for optimized and convenient digital banking systems is available if you accept stable cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other government-backed digital forms of money have disrupted traditional methods of transactions, and you can use digital tokens to make purchases with lower fees and less hassle at faster speeds. The future will involve digital money, and those who invest will remain at the forefront of financial innovation.
One of the best ways to capitalize on the growing trend of Bitcoin is a Bitcoin ATM company. Crypto ATM installations have increased 70% this year as entrepreneurs facilitate cash-for-bitcoin exchanges for crypto users. A Bitcoin ATM can increase foot traffic to your business, collect transaction fees for profit within six months, and give you access to digital value stores that can outperform inflation. It is an excellent way to explore the lucrative markets of digital currencies.
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