South African Google Searches for Bitcoin Spike Amid Economic Uncertainty
Economic uncertainty appears to have spurred a significant spike in the number of South African citizens engaging with bitcoin and cryptocurrency. As of this writing, South African Google searches for bitcoin currently comprising the highest in proportion to country among the top 66 countries by search traffic.
South African Searches Relating to Bitcoin Surge
The popularity of bitcoin appears to be continuing to grow in South Africa despite the recent declining performance of the leading cryptocurrency.
As of this writing, South African Google searches are the highest in proportion to the size of searches generated by high search-volume nations, with the average number of monthly South African searches for “bitcoin” over the last 12 months currently estimated at between 100,000 and 1,000,000. South African peer-to-peer bitcoin trade volume also appears to be rising, with weekly rand-value of localbitcoins trading exceeding 20,000,000 (approximately $1.7 million USD) for the first time since January this past week.
Mati Greenspan, a market analyst for major social trading and asset brokerage, Etoro, recently attested to the platform experiencing a significant surge in the number of South African bitcoin traders, stating that “In South Africa, the number of new users trading bitcoin through eToro rose by 671% from January to the end of November last year over the same period in 2016, more than the 574% overall growth.”
Rising South African Bitcoin Investment Attributed to Fears of Looming Economic Disruption
Many analysts are attributing the growing South African interest in cryptocurrencies to perceptions that president Cyril Ramaphosa’s radical land reforms may comprise a catalyst for economic instability.
President Ramaphosa’s recent acceleration of his policy of forcefully redistributing white-owned property to black citizens who do not possess farmland has prompted concerns from leading international rating agency, Moody’s. Despite the concerns, many are expecting that South Africa may be able to narrowly avoid receiving a fourth credit rating downgrade in less than a calendar year due to a reduction in the cost of insuring the nation’s sovereign debt against default using credit-default swaps.
Mr. Ramaphosa recently issued a statement seeking to assure Moody’s that the “accelerated land reform will unfold within a clear legal framework and without negatively affecting economic growth, agricultural production, and food security.”
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