By Crypto Panda
Updated on January 16, 2019, 4:10 AM

Peru's LocalBitcoins Transaction Volume Grew 250% in 2018

People all around the world use the peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins to buy or sell Bitcoins for cash. LocalBitcoins data can thus offer valuable insights into global crypto trends.

As you can see in the chart below, in 2017, LocalBitcoins trading was dominated by just three countries. The United States, China, and the United Kingdom accounted for 61% of the global LocalBitcoins trading volume.

But 2018 has been quite different. Where just three countries controlled more than half the market in 2017, that same chunk was split among five nations in 2018: the United States, China, the United Kingdom, and newcomers Venezuela and Nigeria. (Note: the slice labeled "Europe" in the chart below refers to Eurozone countries, which were counted together in this data set due to the fact that they share a single currency, but are still separate nations for the purposes of our analysis.)

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The big shift between 2017 and 2018 is a reflection of several changing factors. Venezuela’s trading volume rising significantly is one, but the other is that the figures from the United States, the United Kingdom and China have shrunk considerably.

Here is each country’s specific growth rate for 2018: US (-73.3%), China (-72.9%), UK (-64.6%), Venezuela (+63.7%), and Nigeria (-34.5%).

In fact, overall about 70% of countries experienced negative growth in trading volume on LocalBitcoins. Among the top markets, only Venezuela showed a positive growth trend. Peru (250%), Iran, and Tanzania all posted even stronger growth than Venezuela, but they still account for just a tiny percent of the global trading volume overall. So although it didn’t technically have the highest growth rate, given its comparatively high trading volume it still seems fair to hand the crown of 2018’s fastest-growing LocalBitcoins power nation to Venezuela.

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Geographically “Decentralized” Trading Volume

LocalBitcoins may be a decentralized market, but its historical volume distribution has been quite geographically centered in Europe and North America. This also changed in 2018, during which major volume shrinkage in North America and Europe brought five of the world’s six populated continents relatively on par (Oceania still lags behind).

One possible reason for this shift: developed countries in Europe and North America were the major forces in the cryptocurrency market in its early days, but over the past several years, volume there has dropped even as volumes in Asia (particularly China) were on the rise, and Nigeria and Venezuela brought Africa and South America into the picture.


By comparing the historical transactions in North and South America, we can see more clearly the decline in the trading volume of the United States and the increase in that of Venezuela. In 2018, South America's volume increased by 37.1%, while North America's decreased by 69.1%


We also compared the G20 countries with non-G20 countries (on the theory that G20 members are the most influential countries in the world). And the trading volume of G20 countries still outpaces non-G20 nations, though the latter are gaining ground. The chart below shows the trading volume of G20 countries and non-G20 countries on LocalBitcoins between 2013 and 2018. 


In 2018, G20 countries decreased by 65.2%, while non-G20 countries decreased by 8.7%.

LocalBitcoins is just one platform, of course, but the clear trends in these trading patterns may suggest a geographical power shift is taking place in the world of crypto.