At a time when widespread adoption is thought to be the Holy Grail of cryptocurrency development, a number of cities around the world have quietly distinguished themselves as hubs of crypto-acceptance. From Eastern Europe to North America, these cities are powering the future of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies by hosting a sizeable concentration of businesses and vendors that accept crypto payments. A new comprehensive ranking by Forbes gives a clear picture of where these crypto-friendly cities are, and a few interesting insights.
Asia is Surprisingly Absent
The first insight the list presents is a stunning one. It might seem counter-intuitive to think that the world’s most populated continent with some of the world’s most prolific crypto trading and investment markets is not represented within the top ten cities on the Forbes ranking, but that is the surprising situation.
Despite hosting the extremely popular crypto trading hubs of Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong, plus a wildly popular crypto ecosystem in the Philippines and Myanmar, no Asian city has achieved sufficient street-level acceptance of bitcoin to rank in the Top 10.
Using crowdsourced data from CoinMap, it was determined that even though so-called crypto nomads found some joy in places like Thailand and Indonesia, the Asian bitcoin scene is by and large not a particularly vendor-based one. In other words, even though Asian bitcoin markets often exert more control over price movements than European or North American markets, the Asian use case for bitcoin is still largely restricted to trading and investment on a somewhat abstract level. On the street, fiat still rules for the most part.
Despite this unexpected lack of on-street popularity, the data does show that crypto acceptance may be growing at a grassroots level across Asia and the rest of the unranked world, with bitcoin-friendly business hubs springing up in Tel Aviv, Sydney and Melbourne.
Europe and The Americas Take the Lead
The city at the top of the Forbes ranking is Prague, Czech Republic, closely followed by Buenos Aires in Argentina. An interesting feature of the bitcoin friendliness of the countries on the list is that there is not as much of a rural-urban divide as one would expect. The Czech Republic for example, has more than 50 BTC-accepting businesses in the town of Žatec alone, while Brazil, the UK and the Netherlands have an almost equal split between rural and urban bitcoin accepters.
San Francisco comes third on the ranking with more than 100 businesses accepting bitcoin, followed by Madrid, New York City, Amsterdam, Bogota, Vancouver, London and Paris. It has been noted that these rankings may not account for a lot of business carried out using bitcoin, particularly in countries like Zimbabwe and Venezuela where it is not officially recognised, but it has become a de-facto national currency due to the collapse of their fiat system.
The continued rise of bitcoin has vastly varying reactions from different governments. Some countries like Estonia have welcomed cryptocurrencies and even mooted the idea of creating a national framework for crypto-aided investment, while others like China have slammed blanket bans on cryptocurrency trading, effectively shutting down its potential to achieve mass adoption. Unsurprisingly, historically conservative governments like those of Saudi Arabia and the UAE belong to the latter group, which is why cities like Dubai and Riyadh are not included on the ranking.
Regardless of regulatory standpoints, bitcoin only looks set to continue its gradual march to popular adoption around the world, driven by innovation and necessity. Whether it will promote a new global order or enhance the existing one remains to be seen.