Recent Google Trends data shows that searches for ‘Bitcoin’ are highest in Nigeria and South Africa, underscoring the belief that Africa could be the next big market for cryptocurrencies.
In fact, Bitcoin searches in Nigeria are more than double that of any other country in September thus far.
An animated version of the graph above reveals the ubiquitous nature of bitcoin’s popularity over five years.
As the chart shows, online searches for Bitcoin in developing countries now overshadow those from many developed countries.
Google Trends: Insights about Nigeria and South Africa
Google Trends provides the most popular search queries related to the original search query in these countries as well. This feature provides analysts with greater context about crypto and Bitcoin searches
Nigerians who search for Bitcoin also often search for both ‘Cardtronics’ and ‘ATM operator’ (Cardtroics is an ATM operator). The data also reveal that the Pivot app is popular among Nigerian crypto investors.
And when Nigerians search for cryptocurrency or crypto, they also often search for “‘Day Trading’ or ‘Meta Trader 4 software’ (day trading software). Thus Google Trends gives us some idea of how Bitcoin is viewed within the country.
In contrast, South Africans who search for crypto also tend to search for ‘Altcointrader’ (South Africa’s largest crypto exchange) or ‘Gsp crypto’ (a cryptocurrency investment platform).
BTC search queries surge
The anomaly had many long-time observers wondering if someone was trying to manipulate bitcoin’s price.
After all, investors are widely aware that there is a high correlation ratio (>80%) between Google search queries for bitcoin and bitcoin price.
Although analysts pinpointed the search volume increase in BTC to Romania, they could not explain why.
That has not stopped other analysts from looking elsewhere. It has been hypothesized that the search term surge could be related in part to the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC).
The surge coincides with hurricane Dorian hitting the Bahamas. At the time, local media were reporting on the loss of the BTC telecom network.
However, it’s still up for debate whether the BTC search term surge can be attributed to the hurricane. While searches for BTC have declined somewhat, they continue to remain historically high.
Helping the unbanked
In both Nigeria and South Africa, Google Trends reveals that Bitcoin and cryptocurrency continue to steadily gain in popularity. Both countries also have a sizable number of unbanked citizens.
Nigeria and South Africa are located in a region where an estimated 66% of adults are unbanked, according to research by the World Bank.
Peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading is on the rise in Africa, lending some credence to the motion that unbanked regions of the world are ideal footholds for mainstream Bitcoin adoption.
Weekly Bitcoin trading volumes in Nigeria have grown from 1 billion NGN (US$2.7 million) in January of this year to 1.4 billion NGN (US$3.9 million) as of the week ending September 21st.
Growth in South Africa is even more pronounced, with weekly trading volume nearly doubling from 8.9 million ZAR (US$589,203) to 16.8 million ZAR (US$1,109,541) during the same period.