This Is Where People Are Buying Bitcoin All Over the World

By Camila RussoCamila Russo, Blacki MigliozziBlacki Migliozzi and Cedric SamCedric Sam

Digital currencies are going through an unprecedented boom. Bitcoin has skyrocketed more than 1,600 percent in the past year. The total cryptocurrency market has grown to more than $600 billion. While several other coins have surged and taken market share away from bitcoin, dominance of the first decentralized cryptocurrency is still felt across the market, as it’s the main currency traded against other digital assets.

Changing economic and regulatory conditions have led to sudden shifts in trading volume against different currencies, reflecting how volatile these markets can be. In the past week bitcoin has slumped on concern South Korean officials are considering whether to ban local cryptocurrency exchanges, while China is restricting mining.

Bitcoin trading against the Chinese yuan used to account for most of the volume. That changed early last year when regulators started to clamp down on digital-currency exchanges. Japan’s yen took over as the biggest trading pair as regulators there took the opposite approach, adopting digital-friendly rules.

In the case of Ethereum, the Korean won had become prevalent in mid-2017 as rules that limit access to more traditional assets drove Korean investors to mine and trade the second-biggest cryptocurrency. But trading against the won has declined since December, with bitcoin and the dollar becoming the biggest trading pairs, as authorities said they will only allow cryptocurrency trading on qualified exchanges and review a possible capital-gains tax as a way to restrain the nation’s frenzied speculation. This week’s news that they may go as far as banning trading completely could push the won’s share of trading even lower.