What do emerging markets think of the Bitcoin?

December 21
4:02 AM 2013

Bitcoin has taken customers on a rollercoaster ride this 2013. Most of the action involving the virtual currency has taken place in the established US, European, Chinese and Japanese tech markets but the effect of the Bitcoin could be greatest in the developing world, VentureBeat reported.

Citing a study done by the research arm of Jana, a mobile platform connecting brands with emerging market consumers, the report featured what 1,800 people in nine emerging markets think about the Bitcoin. The countries covered were India, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico.

On the question if they have heard of the Bitcoin before today, a good number of respondents from Asian countries said they had. Forty-eight percent from Indonesia said yes, followed by 45% from Vietnamese respondents and 34% from the Philippines. Only 13% of the respondents from South Africa and 16% from Mexico answered affirmatively.

There were 58% of the respondents who said that they would be comfortable investing in the Bitcoin. Kenyan respondents felt most comfortable at 74%, most likely due to the popularity of M-Pesa, a mobile money service. This makes a lot of people comfortable handling digital money, the report said. Less than 50% of the respondents in Brazil and Mexico say they would be comfortable investing money in Bitcoin.

Highly-volatile, the Bitcoin rose from less than $10 to more than $1200 in just one year. One of biggest selling points of the digital currency is the ease and affordability it provides for transferring money. Compared to traditional cross-border transfer services which charge sky-high fees, Bitcoin can be sent for free, the report said. It also operates worldwide and is not under the control of any specific government.

The report quoted Adam Draper who runs a Bitcoin-oriented accelerator program who said that the digital money is still considered more of an asset. He said, "It is interesting to look at inflationary markets like Argentina, Venezuela, and India, where the value of a Bitcoin could be a better store of value than their own currency. Remittances and cross-border payments are also a big deal, and Bitcoin could change the game if adopted appropriately."

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