In certain parts of the world, such as Argentina and Turkey, where high inflation and weak currencies have forced people to seek safe havens, digital currencies have become a popular alternative. According to research firm GWI, digital currency ownership in Turkey is the highest in the world at 27.1%, followed by Argentina at 23.5%, well above the global average of 11.9%. This trend can be attributed to the fact that both countries have high inflation rates, which have led to crumbling currencies and capital controls to deter locals from withdrawing money.
To hedge against currency devaluation, investors are turning to stablecoins such as USD Coin and Tether, which are crypto tokens pegged to traditional assets like the US dollar or gold. Trading volumes for the USDT-Turkish lira pair reached a multi-month high recently, driven by the weakening of the Turkish currency and the upcoming landmark presidential and parliamentary elections.
While Bitcoin is up 72% this year, overall trading volumes are far from levels seen last summer after investors were spooked by a series of collapses of crypto players culminating in FTX’s demise. Trading volumes for spot bitcoin are highest during U.S. opening hours, with little change from 2022. However, regulatory issues faced by crypto exchange Binance in recent months have led to a slight shift in derivative trading volume towards Asia Pacific hours from Americas. In South Korea, where altcoins dominate, crypto trading volumes are back to levels seen in the first and second quarters of 2022 after a weak fourth quarter.