Crypto adoption in China and other emerging markets up despite bear market, says Chainanalysis

September 16, 2022

By Tsering Namgyal

China and other emerging markets has bounced back to be amongst the top ten countries in terms of crypto adoption despite the bear market, according to crypto data research firm Chainalaysis’ 2022 global crypto adoption index.

China has moved to 10th from 13th in 2011, with the country showing strength in usage of centralized services, placing second overall for purchasing power-adjusted transaction volume at both the overall and retail levels.

“This is especially interesting given the Chinese government’s crackdown on cryptocurrency activity, which includes a ban on all cryptocurrency trading announced in 2021,” Chainanalysis said. “Our data suggests that the ban has either been ineffective or loosely enforced,” it said.

The research found that while growth has become more sporadic with the onset of the latest bear market, global adoption remains well above the levels that preceded the 2020 bull market.

The growing popularity of cryptocurrency, especially in the emerging markets, is largely due to “unique tangible benefits” cryptocurrency provides to “people living in unstable economic conditions.”

Crypto is particularly popular in Vietnam, which ranked first in crypto adoption for the second consecutive year, Chainalysis said. The country showed “extremely high purchasing power and population-adjusted adoption across centralized, decentralized finance, and peer-to-peer cryptocurrency tools.”

Vietnamese consumers love of cryptocurrency is underscored by a poll done in 2020 that found 21 percent of Vietnamese consumers reported using or owning cryptocurrency, second only to Nigeria at 32 percent.

The adoption rate has grown as local media reports suggest that crypto-based gaming, including games following the play to earn (P2E) and move to earn (M2E) models, are particularly popular in Vietnam.

“That goes not just for users, but builders too, as the top-grossing P2E game Axie Infinity is based in Ho Chi Minh City, with its success inspiring more crypto gaming startups to find success in Vietnam,” Chainanalysis said.

Amongst the top ten markets, Vietnam ranked first, followed by the Philippines, Ukraine, India, the United States, Pakistan, Brazil, Thailand, Russia and China in that order.

Evidently, emerging markets dominate the index as users in middle and upper middle-income countries as defined by the World Bank rely on crypto to send remittances, preserve their savings in times of fiat currency volatility, and fulfill other financial needs unique to their economies.

“These countries also tend to lean on Bitcoin and stablecoins more than other countries,” it said, adding that “it will be interesting to see what solutions the crypto industry can build to increase adoption in high and low-income countries.”

The United States moved up to the fifth in the index from eighth in 2021 and sixth in 2020, making in the highest-ranked developed market in the index and one of only two to make it to the top 20 along with the UK.

According to Chainanalysis, global adoption of crypto reached all-time high in the second quarter of last year, before declining in the third quarter, thanks to the drop in overall crypto prices. Prices, however, rebounded in the fourth quarter.

It has fallen in each of the last two quarters, as the crypto sector entered a bear market.  “Still, it’s important to note that global adoption remains well above its pre-bull market of 2019,” it said.

This is because big, long-term crypto holders have refused to sell their holdings in the bear market and data showed that those holders are optimistic that markets will recover, which keeps market fundamentals relatively health.

Chainalysis Global Crypto Adoption Index is made up of five sub-indexes, each of which is based on countries’ usage of different types of crypto services. It ranks 146 countries.

The five sub-indexes all weighted by purchasing power parity (PPP) include; 1) on-chain crypto value at centralized exchanges, 2) on-chain retail value received at centralized exchanged; 3) peer-to-peer exchange trade volume; 4) on-chain crypto value received from DeFi protocols, and 5) on-chain retail value received from DeFi protocols.

About the author

Tsering Namgyal is the chief content officer at

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