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Country Flows In Crypto: An Analysis

San Francisco
August 09, 2018

What can we learn from analyzing country-specific flows in crypto?

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Overview of Memo

EPIQ asked for Bitwise’s take on trends in flows by country (ex: China, Korea, Venezuela, etc). The following document details our current thinking.

1. High-Quality Data Is Difficult To Get and Often Misattributed

It is difficult to track the origin and geographic distribution of cryptoasset transactions. Typical approaches revolve around looking at the physical domicile of major exchanges and assuming most users are local, or looking at fiat-to-crypto trading pairs and making attributions that way. Both approaches are flawed.

The domicile of exchanges is important but not controlling on its customers. Exchanges often attract users from outside their home market, and some exchanges (notably Binance, the largest exchange in the world) have no official domicile at all.

On the other hand, while fiat-to-crypto trading pairs are indicative of the location of a customer, it misses most of the trading volume that takes place, since the majority of trading volume takes place in crypto-to-crypto trading pairs. The chart below, from Cryptocompare, shows the recent share of bitcoin trading volume by trading pair. Of note, the single largest pair is USDT (Tether), a stablecoin designed to facilitate trading on crypto-to-crypto exchanges.

BTC-Volume-By-Currency

Finally, it’s worth noting that reported exchange volume in general is unreliable due to wash sales, mis-counting of derivative volume or data errors. Bitwise uses a multistep process to clean and verify that data before it incorporates it into its index methodology.

2. The Best Source of Country-Specific Data We Know of Comes from Local Bitcoins

The best source of reliable country-specific data we know of comes from LocalBitcoins. LocalBitcoins is a peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange that facilitates craigslist-style connections between users in different countries looking to buy and sell bitcoin.

LocalBitcoins data is available natively from its website or is consolidated in a helpful manner by Coin.Dance. It provides an interesting source of analysis. Select case studies follow below.

I. Case Study: Venezuela

Bitcoin has real utility to residents of Venezuela, where hyperinflation has made using the local currency nearly impossible. Not surprisingly, interest in bitcoin has surged since hyperinflation took hold, as citizens look for an alternative place to store value. Below is a chart of units of bitcoin traded in Venezuela via LocalBitcoins over two-week periods going back to 2013:

Venezuela-Volume-USD

Here is the same chart, but denominated in bolivars, a currency that has experienced rapid price depreciation:

Venezuela-Volume-Bolivar

II. Case Study: Argentina

We see similar spikes in activity for most countries seeing significant inflation and/or unusual currency price movements, such as Argentina:

Argentina-Volume

III. Case Study: China

While not facing volatility in its currency prices, it is also interesting to look at the volume in markets that have taken different regulatory approaches to the crypto market. An example is trading volume in China, shown here based in yuan, which has held strong over 2018:

China-Volume

Important Disclosures

Bitwise Asset Management, Inc. and its affiliates (collectively, the “Manager”) are furnishing this presentation (this “Presentation”) to sophisticated prospective investors for informational purposes only in relation to a potential opportunity to subscribe for limited liability company interests (“Interests”) in Bitwise HOLD 10 Private Index Fund, LLC (the “Fund”). This is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation for an offer to buy Interests in the Fund. Any offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy Interests will be made solely through definitive offering documents, identified as such, in respect of the Fund in compliance with the terms of all applicable securities and other laws. Such definitive offering documents, if any, will describe risks related to an investment in the Fund (including loss of the entire investment) and will qualify in their entirety the information set forth in this Presentation. No Advice on Investment; Risk of Loss: Prior to making any investment decision in respect of the Fund, each investor must undertake its own independent examination and investigation of the Fund, including the merits and risks involved in an investment in the Interests, and must base its investment decision—including a determination whether Interests would be a suitable investment for the investor—on such examination and investigation and must not rely on the Manager or the Fund in making such investment decision. Prospective investors must not construe the contents of this Presentation as legal, tax, investment, or other advice. Each prospective investor is urged to consult with its own advisors with respect to legal, tax, regulatory, financial, accounting, and similar consequences of investing in the Fund, the suitability of the investment for such investor, and other relevant matters concerning an investment in the Fund. The summary discussion in this Presentation does not purport to be complete, and is qualified in its entirety by reference to the definitive offering documents relating to the Fund. Do not place undue reliance on this Presentation.

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