From a niche technology favoured only by tech nerds and cyber criminals to a mainstream commodity that is invested in by people from all walks of life, Bitcoin has come in a long way in recent years. Some countries have welcomed its sharp rise to fame, while others have been suspicious of its success and even implemented bans on trading cryptocurrency within their borders.
The UK and South Africa are two countries which fall into neither of those categories, with their governments neither embracing nor outlawing Bitcoin. Nonetheless, it has enjoyed a surge in popularity in both nations, with citizens looking for alternative ways to invest and store their assets. But which comes out on top? Here’s a comparison of the two for your consideration.
Bitcoin in Britain
Although Bitcoin is yet to truly break through to the mainstream in the UK, it has enjoyed growing interest in recent years. According to the most recent report from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is the industry regulator in Britain, some 2.6 million people in the country have purchased, sold or otherwise exchanged cryptocurrencies in 2020.
At the time of the publication of the report, the FCA estimated that almost 4% of the populace were currently in possession of crypto assets, with the majority of those focusing on Bitcoin. The reason for the popularity of this particular currency is its status and growing endorsement from other governments, as well as the number of legitimate businesses which now accept it as legal tender.
Perhaps the most newsworthy of these is the electric vehicle (EV) brand Tesla, whose CEO Elon Musk has been an outspoken supporter of Bitcoin for years. However, other retailers have also begun to accept it in the last few years, while the practice of visiting an online bitcoin casino or storing it as an investment in a digital wallet is also becoming more widespread.
Bitcoin in South Africa
Tracking the volume of cryptocurrencies transactions and the number of Bitcoin owners in South Africa is an altogether trickier task, since the basic monitoring infrastructure for such endeavours is simply not in place in the country. However, all the signs point towards the fact that cryptocurrencies (and Bitcoin in particular) are hugely popular in South Africa.
Indeed, since the launch of Bitcoin to the present day, the residents of only two countries (Nigeria and El Salvador) have used Google to search for the word more frequently than South Africans. Meanwhile, the 2020 Global Crypto Adoption Index placed South Africa firmly among the top nations pursuing Bitcoin as a legitimate means of wealth, while the UK was far off the pace in their rankings.
That hypothesis is also borne out by the facts. South Africa is home to a young and tech-savvy population, who wish to circumvent economic hardships and safeguard against political instability by amassing digital and decentralised forms of wealth. With all those things in mind, it’s not difficult to see why the country has enjoyed such a positive relationship with Bitcoin to date.
Although a like-for-like comparison of the popularity of Bitcoin in the UK and South Africa is not feasible, the evidence would suggest that the latter enjoys a slight edge over the former.