New Data Suggests Bitcoin Use Growing Through Utility in Developing World

A data scientist and Bitcoin enthusiast has just published a follow up report to an earlier effort to collate global LocalBitcoins volume data. Matt Ahlborg has also shared tools that allow for much greater analysis of the international peer-to-peer Bitcoin market.

By providing data in US dollar equivalents, different markets’ performances can be measured against one another with much greater ease. The data shows that interest in trading Bitcoin peer-to-peer is growing steadily in Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.

LocalBitcoins Volume Shows Bitcoin Use Growing in Developing Nations

The report and accompanying analytics website is the work of Matt Ahlborg. The data scientist originally published an in-depth article about global LocalBitcoins trading volumes in February. The article concluded that trading volumes on the peer-to-peer platform was often driven by real usage, rather than simply speculation:

“Bitcoin activity on the platform gravitated towards certain geopolitical and socioeconomic environments, and that utility, not speculation, was likely the driving force.”

For his latest project, which has been sponsored by blockchain venture capitalist group dlab, Ahlborg has created vastly improved data sets than those available previously.

Now all volumes are reported in US dollar equivalents, rather than national currencies, making for easy comparisons. Given that nations of particular interest, for example Venezuela, have seen massive national currency devaluation, comparing its LocalBitcoins volume with those of other jurisdictions was challenging before.

Ahlborg has also group nations together in regions. This allows for a more general overview of LocalBitcoins trading volume around the world. Other improvements to previous data about the peer-to-peer market place’s trading volumes include enhanced date selection functionalities on charts, and new data layers incorporated.

From the data provided by, there has been steady growth of trading volumes on the peer-to-peer marketplace since the chart begins in 2015. A massive surge in use and a subsequent drop off accompanied peak of the 2017 Bitcoin bull market. Since then, global volume has generally continued to grow.

The regions that appear to be driving this growth are sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Trading volumes across Asia Pacific, North America, Western Europe, Australia/New Zealand, and Middle/East/North Africa, have all remained consistent since mid-2018.

In creating the new resource, Ahlborg claims to have communicated with LocalBitcoins users from around the world. Such correspondence allowed him to come up with some interesting observations.

Firstly, he states that LocalBitcoins volume is likely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the real peer-to-peer trading Bitcoin volumes around the world. Referencing his earlier theory that many people used the marketplace to forge an initial relationship before starting to trade off-platform, Ahlborg writes:

“I feel that the volume shown through LocalBitcoins API is only a part of the story and there exists a considerably sized web of trading relationships across social media sites and chat applications of all types which has formed over the years from activity which originally began on LocalBitcoins itself.”

The researcher also identifies difficulties with using national currencies to determine real trading volume. The US dollar, for example, is used on many other country-specific versions of LocalBitcoins. Other national currencies see the same thing happen too:

“While this phenomenon happens most with USD, I’ve also observed it with Euros, Russian Rubles, South African Rand, and others — usually by traders residing in respective neighboring countries and who have access to multiple currency systems, likely due to their residentiary status across multiple jurisdictions.”

Ahlborg claims that this release of data is just the first part of a much larger project in which he will attempt to demonstrate that Bitcoin is being used for its utility in the developing world. Additional information is on the way to show trading volumes on the Paxful peer-to-peer market place, as well as other data “which will show exciting trends taking place all around the world.”


Related Reading: Is Largely Unbanked Africa Primed for Bitcoin Adoption?

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