Inspired by Alexandra Talty’s excellent The Top 10 Bitcoin Cities in the World piece in Forbes, which looked at cities with the most bitcoin shops and businesses, I looked at doing the same in Asia.
Alexandra’s research showed that the leading 10 locations globally for bitcoin businesses were in Europe and the United States, followed by South America. There was no room in the top 10 for Asia, home to some of the world’s leading financial centres and fastest growing economies.
I used the same tool mentioned in the article, Coinmap, created by SatoshiLabs in the Czech Republic, to display ATMs, cafe, restaurants and other vendors in the form of a heatmap. The results were a little surprising.
The map clearly shows a concentration of services in East Asia, led by Korea, Japan and Taiwan, but bitcoin businesses are also clustered around digital nomad hotspots. Lit up heavily in red are Phuket and Krabi in Thailand, and Bali. Drilling deeper reveals hotels, bars, shops and transport companies, all taking bitcoin.
So yes, the big cities are there, but so are Asia’s holiday hotspots, or those locations traditionally associated with tourism.
It suggests that if you’re a digital nomad, or travelling widely within Asia, you could do worse than carry a few bitcoins in your pocket (virtually of course), which can of course be used irrespective of location.
However, we might not be seeing the full picture. As Alexandra also pointed out in her article, Coinmap relies on crowdsourcing – so there will almost certainly be gaps in places. There are also regulatory pressures – for example the currency in China.