In brief

  • A report released today by Messari says that China is still the leader in cryptocurrency activity worldwide.
  • The country controls 65% of Bitcoin’s hashrate.
  • Some countries in Asia, such as Vietnam, still have strict regulations.

China is still the undisputed king of the Bitcoin market, according to a new report by cryptocurrency data provider Messari

The report, “Asia’s Crypto Landscape” by analyst Mira Christanto, was released today and looks at the funds, exchanges and trading habits of the world’s biggest crypto market: Asia. And the country with the most influence in the region, China, is still going strong—despite a regulatory crackdown

The country controls 65% of Bitcoin’s hashrate (a measure of how much computing power is used to mine Bitcoin). For a country whose government is hardly "Bitcoin friendly," its combined hashrate dwarfs big market players such as the US (7.24%), Russia (6.9%) and Venezuela (0.43%). 

Messari notes how even though China banned Bitcoin trading on exchanges in 2017, crypto still continues to thrive—albeit with a “fringe” industry that “operates cautiously.” The world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, was founded in China, though it has since moved its headquarters.

The report says that Asia makes up for 43% of global cryptocurrency transactions—or $296 billion—with East Asia taking up most of that figure. Compared to Eastern Europe (12%) or Latin America (7%), both huge markets, it is a much bigger player. 

But why is China such a big player in the crypto market, with one of the world’s largest crypto development communities? This is largely to do with currency controls: China only allows individuals to buy up to $50,000 in foreign currencies a year, so the country’s citizens are finding a way around that—with stablecoins. 

“As a result of restrictions, the USD-stablecoin market is booming in China as an avenue to get USD exposure,” the report says. 

In fact, the biggest cryptocurrency in China is stablecoin Tetherwhich drives the East Asian market. 

Messari’s report also says that more than any other country in Asia, Hong Kong has more institutional investors who know how traditional investment instruments work. 

While South Korea has the highest penetration of crypto investors, with a third of workers saying they invest in crypto.

And in Japan, many traditional banks are investing in the space, compared to other countries in the region. 

Vietnam has the strictest rules in the region, the report says, with crypto banned as a means of legal payment and public companies and securities firms not able to participate in crypto activities.