Crypto: The New Frontier for Emerging Markets

Crypto: The New Frontier for Emerging Markets


As many large countries face currency turmoil and citizens turn to crypto assets as a hedge, Noelle Acheson explores the evolution of on-the-ground demand for crypto assets, highlighting several countries including Pakistan and Nigeria.

Numerous large countries around the globe, including Pakistan and Nigeria, suffer currency turmoil. And, regardless of official efforts to curb cryptocurrency activity, there are signs their citizens are turning to cryptocurrency assets as a hedge, reveals Noelle Acheson.

With the United States mired in political stasis while other regions build cryptocurrency frameworks, it’s worth looking at the evolution of, and outlook for, on-the-ground demand for cryptocurrency assets. This is getting increasingly relevant as numerous large countries struggle with skyrocketing inflation, shaky currencies and autocratic control over financial access, and as populations become increasingly crypto-aware and a lack of trust in centralized institutions grows.

Past week, the Government of Pakistan (the fifth largest country in the world in terms of population, with over 239 Million inhabitants) was informed to have stated that digital currencies “will never be legalized” in Pakistan, to be able to avoid FATF penalties.

Noelle Acheson is the previous head of research at CoinDesk and Genesis Trading. This post is excerpted from her Cryptocurrency Is Macro Now newsletter, which concentrates on the overlap betwixt the shifting cryptocurrency and macro landscapes. These opinions are hers, and nothing she writes should be taken as financing advice.

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This may sound on the surface like an overreaction to FATF’s cryptocurrency stance – last Thursday, the organization’s president was released a letter titled “An end to the lawless cryptocurrency space” which urges cryptocurrency regulation rather than a total ban.

Then once more, Pakistan has a somewhat tense relationship with the FATF, and just last October was taken off its “grey list” (which labels certain countries as having “deficiencies” in their AML controls, which as a result can lead to limited participation in worldwide finance).

It’s likewise not hard to see the hand of the International Monetary Fund. Pakistan is as of now in talks with the organization regarding a bailout package, although negotiations seem stalled and concern about the country’s political and economic issues is starting to affect neighboring countries. The IMF has not been shy about its unease with cryptocurrency markets, and several  months ago, reports surfaced that it had applied crypto-suppression conditions to negotiations with Argentina.

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Still cryptocurrency use in Pakistan is nevertheless active, as people are reportedly converting their salaries into crypto stablecoins to prevent currency erosion. The rupee has decreased greater than 20 percent against the United States dollar year-to-date, greater than 30 percent in the previous year. In the meantime, Bitcoin in rupee terms is up 103 percent so far in 2023 (vs 63 percent in United States dollar terms). It’s probably not a coincidence that a 2022 report from forensics company Chainalysis placed Pakistan Sixth in terms of worldwide cryptocurrency adoption.

There is likewise Nigeria (the Sixth largest country in the world, with over 218 Million people), which is likely to devalue its currency once the new president is sworn in, in a bid to alleviate trade imbalances and dollar shortages. The sub-Saharan nation ranked 11th in Chainalysis’ worldwide cryptocurrency adoption ranking, and reports by Google Trends, looking back in the previous 90 days, Nigeria is the top-ranking country in terms of searches for the term “crypto” and Second in terms of searches for the term “bitcoin.”

Turkey is the 18th largest country in the world in terms of population, with greater than 85 Million inhabitants. Past week its currency hit a new record low as markets brace for Erdogan’s likely re-election in the runoffs on May 28. A recent chart by cryptocurrency market data company Kaiko shows the spike in cryptocurrency activity based in lira, now it’s worth noting that higher than euro-based activity. Turkey was 12th in Chainalysis’ 2022 cryptocurrency adoption ranking – currency woes and the pressing must hedge and diversify are likely to push it up the list.

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CoinDesk - Unknown(Kaiko Research)

An unexpected entry into my “watch the adoption” list is Japan – the 11th largest country with over 124 Million people, and the third richest in terms of nominal GDP. James Butterfill, head of research at CoinShares, shared a chart past week that plotted growth in spot volumes on cryptocurrency exchanges. The leader? Japan, with the Second highest average daily volume (after the U.S.) and easily the highest percentage growth ( approximately 55 percent year-to-date).

CoinDesk - Unknown(Via Twitter user @jbutterfill)

This may be largely for speculation, since Japan has low inflation and its currency is relatively stable. Or, it  can potentially be a sign of investors bracing for higher inflation and currency instability. Higher inflation would possibly likely trigger price hikes, on the other hand, which should strengthen the yen, so it’s not clear what Bitcoin (BTC) would be a hedge for in Japan.

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There are numerous other examples of citizens around the globe turning to cryptocurrency to hedge against local currency volatility and debasement – Ukraine, Argentina and Lebanon are just several  that come to mind. Numerous struggle with the absence of reliable onramps and with the difficulty of custody. On the other hand, few are even remotely concerned about the United States regulatory hostility.

All this serves as a reminder that the United States may have the largest financial market in the world, but cryptocurrencies  purpose goes well beyond the speculation that financial markets serve. What’s more, numerous developing economies are accustomed to regulatory authorities overstepping their bounds in terms of limiting financial freedom, and thus their citizens find the decentralized nature of numerous cryptocurrency assets easier to comprehend and appreciate than do individuals used to more open regimes.

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Throw in the increasing probability of whole lot of currency turmoil ahead in emerging countries’ economies, inflationary pressures and a strong dollar, and, as a result, the possibility of political turmoil, and you can see how the “insurance” and “hedge” qualities of cryptocurrency assets such as Bitcoin and crypto stablecoins become even more compelling. Monetary liquidity headwinds could be whole lot of, but they are not the whole cryptocurrency market story.



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