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Use of crypto stays low in Singapore, but is rising in some emerging Asian markets

SINGAPORE – The use of cryptocurrency by the average person in Singapore remained low in the past year, and did not grow as fast as in some other emerging Asian markets such as Vietnam and the Philippines.

Singapore was ranked 76th in blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis’ 2023 Global Crypto Adoption Index, down from the 63rd spot in 2022. The latest index was published on Tuesday.

Hong Kong, which is trying to be a crypto hub, took the 47th spot this year, one level down from last year’s ranking (46th).

The index, which factors in purchasing power parity per capita, aims to show the countries where the most people are putting the greatest share of their wealth into cryptocurrency. It measures what Chainalysis terms “grassroots crypto adoption”, or the use of cryptocurrency by ordinary people, rather than institutions.

The firm found that the central and southern Asia and Oceania region dominates the index, with six of the top 10 countries located in this region.

India took the pole position, followed by Nigeria, Vietnam, the United States and Ukraine. The Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil and Thailand round up the top 10.

Chainalysis said that while there has been a marked recovery worldwide since the doldrums of late 2022 – around the time American crypto exchange FTX imploded – “grassroots adoption is still well off its all-time highs”.

FTX was one of the most prominent exchanges in the world and became insolvent in November 2022. It was controlled by disgraced former chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who is set to stand trial for fraud and other charges in October. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The collapse of FTX and sister firm Alameda Research exacerbated a global crypto meltdown that wiped out billions in customer assets.

Although global grassroots crypto adoption remains lower than the highs of 2021, the index indicates that lower-middle income countries like India, Nigeria and Ukraine have seen a stronger recovery.

Chainalysis said that about 40 per cent of the world’s population live in lower-middle income countries, more so than any other income category.

“If lower-middle income countries are the future, then the data indicates that crypto is going to be a big part of that future. That, combined with the fact that institutional adoption – primarily driven by organisations in high-income countries – continues to gain steam even during the ongoing crypto winter, paints a promising picture of the future,” the firm said, in its report on the index.

It also noted that the wide-ranging and unique economic needs of countries can spur crypto adoption, because to cater to these needs, different crypto platforms and assets have emerged.

For instance, in the Philippines, where many want to speculate on new assets, make extra cash, and connect digitally with others, play-to-earn games were able to gain an enormous foothold.

The games act as an entry point into the wider digital asset economy, and now thousands of Filipinos have crypto wallets they can use for other purposes, said the firm.

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