Over the past year the only South African cryptocurrency exchange LocalBitcoins has dramatically increased its weekly trading volume. Overall the numbers show a 50-fold growth comparing to February 2015.

 If a year ago, at the end of February 2015, LocalBitcoins accounted for about 251,000 ZAR (South African Rand) weekly exchanged for bitcoins and vice versa, later the amount steadily began to increase. However, quick growth only kicked in about April, when the exchange volume of bitcoin exceeded the mark of 1 million ZAR. Now the total weekly volume amounts to nearly 12 million ZAR.

The growth of LocalBitcoins trade volume went side by side with the gradual (albeit not so dramatic) fall of the rand-to-dollar rate. In April 2015 the dollar cost about 12 and, while now the price is up to 16.

The interest to bitcoin in South Africa may be explained manly by the instability of the country’s economy, which is signified in the president Jacob Zuma replacing three finance ministers over just one week. In 2015, the country’s GDP grew at a rather moderate pace. Amid the global economic slowdown, the South African economy was nearing a recession in the second quarter of 2015, while considering the whole year, the GDP increased by 1.3% compared to the 1.4% expansion in 2014.

Another reason for the quick growth of the bitcoin exchange’s popularity may lay in the fact that people in South Africa became aware of the cryptocurrency later than in other countries.

Comparing to South Africa, over the same period the trading volume of LocalBitcoins in Russia only grew 5 times (from 19 to 99 million roubles) and in the USA – less than twice (from about 4 to 7,4 million dollars).


Andrew Levich