El Salvador tops Bitcoin-interest charts as Brazil overtakes Nigeria

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Brazil has knocked Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, off its second-place perch on the interest-in-Bitcoin rankings. El Salvador has retained its position in the top spot, Brazil is next in line, and Nigeria is in third place, data from Google Trends shows.

The data suggests that as Bitcoin popularity expands in Brazil, Latin America’s most populous country, Nigerian crypto users are increasingly favoring USDT stablecoin over Bitcoin. In 2022, El Salvador held the top spot, Nigeria occupied second place and Brazil was in third place.

El Salvador has retained its top spot in Bitcoin interest as the country’s commitment to Bitcoin solidifies. On Dec. 7, the El Salvador government, in partnership with stablecoin issuer Tether, launched the Freedom Visa – a citizenship-by-donation program that grants residency and a pathway to citizenship for 1,000 people willing to put down a $1 million Bitcoin (BTC) or Tether (USDT) donation toward the country.

Brazil’s largest private bank, Itau Unibanco, began offering cryptocurrency services in early December, initially providing Bitcoin and Ether trading. The bank’s expansion into digital assets came after a spate of cryptocurrency regulation changes in Latin America.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed a law on Dec. 12 imposing taxes on crypto assets held abroad by Brazilian citizens.

In Nigeria, stablecoins have become the favored cryptocurrency because they are tied to a widely accepted asset, the U.S. dollar, providing a hedge against inflation and the devaluation of the naira.

Stablecoins offer not only financial security against market fluctuations but also lucrative prospects. According to the 2023 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report by Chainalysis, peer-to-peer trading rates of the naira against USDT saw a sharp increase in 2023, more than double the starting rate.

It has been more than two years since the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) prohibited licensed banks from participating in cryptocurrency-related activities to control the rise of unregulated transactions.

Related: Why has Bitcoin price hit new all-time highs in Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria and Argentina?

Despite challenges, Nigeria’s crypto market remains a significant transactional tool in the sub-Saharan nation. However, it is gradually losing prominence to more crypto-friendly countries such as the UK, UAE, and Brazil.

Nigeria leads in cryptocurrency adoption in Africa and globally, experiencing a 9% annual growth rate, according to a Chainalysis report. Despite recent declines in Bitcoin interest, Nigeria is among the top three countries with consistent growth since 2021.

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