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Independent Study Shows Bitcoin Adoption in Emerging Markets

Independent Study Shows Bitcoin Adoption in Emerging Markets

News & Insights

19 Jul 2022

Bitcoin use is likely to continue expanding in emerging markets as it fulfills a digital transaction gap and helps drive local and cross-border payment and earning options.

  • 91% of survey respondents see a role for Bitcoin as enabling a digital future
  • 74% of emerging market consumers are aware of Bitcoin
  • 52% of survey respondents have observed increases in Bitcoin usage
  • Results indicate a potential leap-frog effect for Bitcoin usage in emerging markets

July 19, 2022 – AAX, a crypto exchange for everyone, announced today that a new commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on its behalf has found significant Bitcoin awareness and growing adoption burgeoning across emerging markets in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, with consumers beginning to explore the digital asset for purposes beyond investment or speculation.

Forrester Consulting’s survey found 74% of consumers in the surveyed markets were aware of Bitcoin while 52% of survey respondents indicated that they had noticed an increase in Bitcoin usage in their country over the past 12 months, from May 2021 to May 2022. Ninety-one percent of respondents see a role for Bitcoin as enabling a digital future – a role that it already plays in many emerging markets by providing a platform for payments and transfers that local banks may not be able to offer.

The findings indicate that despite its recent price volatility, Bitcoin use is likely to continue expanding in emerging markets as it fulfills a digital transaction gap and helps drive local and cross-border payment and earning options. Data from the study points to a potential leap-frog effect occurring as emerging market users adopt Bitcoin for more daily transactions.

“For many users in emerging markets, Bitcoin offers an alternative to the banking system that is easier to access, more secure, and protected from government intervention,” said Ben Caselin, Head of Research and Strategy at AAX. “We believe this study really shows us the potential of Bitcoin to power a different, fairer, and more inclusive financial system for everyone – not simply an investment vehicle for institutions and a wealthy minority.”

Forrester conducted a survey on 806 consumers across Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The firm also conducted eight qualitative interviews with senior decision-makers at financial services and/or insurance institutions across the four regions. The study began in February 2022 and was completed in June 2022, which was a period of price volatility for Bitcoin.

“Bitcoin’s volatility might seem like an obstacle to widespread adoption in emerging markets, where financial resources are often limited,” Caselin added. “But adoption needs to be seen as taking place across a spectrum and in phases. Instead of making or taking payments in Bitcoin, this can mean using its infrastructure. The Lightning Network, which is a second layer on top of the Bitcoin network, is a good example. It facilitates Bitcoin micropayments quickly and cheaply and opens the possibility of using Bitcoin as a payment rail across other units of value – such as stablecoins. This allows emerging market users to benefit from Bitcoin’s security and privacy without having to be exposed to its volatility for savings and essential payments.”

Concerns around Bitcoin’s transparency, reliability, and demand are often similarly relevant to emerging market currencies. That means that consumers in emerging markets are less likely to face a stark choice between local fiat and Bitcoin given that they are more accustomed to currency volatility and value loss. As of July 6, 2022, MSCI’s Emerging Markets Currency Index has fallen by about 4.5%, the biggest decline on record for such a period of time.

Additional factors driving the use of Bitcoin in emerging markets include enabling consumers to become financially independent, dissatisfaction with existing financial services, the need of an additional means of making and receiving payments and/or transfers.

  • In the Middle East and Southeast Asia, consumers mainly use Bitcoin as a means of money management; 45% of respondents in the Middle East and 51% in Southeast Asia indicated that Bitcoin enables money-saving through value preservation while other survey takers invest in Bitcoin with the aim of making gains (42% in the Middle East and 47% in Southeast Asia) and hedge money to offset potential losses or gains in other investments (41% in the Middle East and 44% in Southeast Asia).
  • 46% of users in Africa primarily use Bitcoin to make payments and/or transfers. Users indicated that they have been making transactions in Bitcoin as a means of transferring funds to others domestically.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, users in Latin America mainly use Bitcoin to receive payments and/or transfers; 40% of the respondents have been receiving payments and/or transfers through Bitcoin from a mixture of sources, including from employees domestically and internationally as well as receiving payments from others internationally. As a proportion of income, 53% of Latin American Bitcoin users reported receiving 25% or more of their income through Bitcoin over the last 12 months.

The study reinforces that while developed markets remain conservative on the use of Bitcoin as a digital currency due to value, security, regulation, and sociopolitical concerns, consumers in emerging markets take a different perspective. Bitcoin offers a cross-border infrastructure to emerging market consumers that may be faster, more secure, and more reliable than those available from local banks.


About AAX

AAX is a top-tier digital assets exchange that caters to a global audience, with a vision of bringing the benefits of digital assets to everyone. Through an accessible range of products and by contributing to the conversation about digital assets and culture, we aim to empower the estimated 96% of people worldwide who do not yet own Bitcoin and other digital assets to build better and more inclusive economies.

Favored by more than three million users in over 160 countries, AAX is the first exchange to use the Satoshi Standard (SATS) to drive the adoption of Bitcoin. We are also the first to be powered by LSEG Technology, offering high-yield savings packages, 200+ spot pairs, deeply liquid futures markets, regular discounts on major tokens and a range of on- and off-ramp products.

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