Imagine a country where everything new in the digital world is not only tested but implemented. Bitcoin.com is proud to present a list of the ten most Bitcoin-friendly countries in the world, where the technology is being tested and used at an increasingly rapid pace.
World’s Top 10 Bitcoin-Friendly Countries
The countries are listed in no particular order since each nation has its own idiosyncrasies, differences in population, internet connectivity, etc. However, all of the countries listed have demonstrated their willingness, whether on behalf of the population, the government or both, to embrace Bitcoin’s innovative technology.
Check out Bitcoin.com’s video listing the world’s top Bitcoin-friendly countries below.
The small Baltic nation of Estonia not only has a history of jumping on the latest technological innovation, but its tech-friendly government seems willing to implement innovations like blockchain technology for healthcare, banking services and even governance by allowing its citizens to become “e-Residents.” This service also gives Estonian citizens and businesses digital authentication. It was also one of the first to use a blockchain-based e-voting service that enables people to become shareholders of Nasdaq’s Tallinn Stock Exchange.
Well known as the birthplace of Skype, it now hosts a number of Bitcoin ATMs and startups such as Paxful, a global peer-to-peer buying and selling service for bitcoins. With one of the highest internet penetration rates in the world, Estonia is well positioned to be a place where a cryptocurrency users can certainly feel welcome.
The United States
Unsurprisingly, the US hosts the highest number of cryptocurrency users and Bitcoin trading volumes in the world. Bolstered by Silicon Valley, which is home to numerous cryptocurrency, blockchain related startups, and the highest number of Bitcoin ATMs in the world, the US has been at the forefront of the digital currency space since the beginning.
Moreover, as a global financial superpower, many nations across the globe look to the US for guidance in relation to cryptocurrency’s legal status and regulatory clarity not only from Washington D.C., but also individual states such as California, New York, and New Hampshire, just to name a few. Therefore, the US will undoubtedly serve as the testing ground for crypto-regulation in the years ahead, as other nations look on to see which approach works best (Spoiler: it probably won’t be New York’s).
The peer-to-peer bitcoin trading service LocalBitcoins has shown incessant growth in bitcoin trading volume since 2013 — a good indicator of organic demand considering the large population and number of Bitcoin users in the country.
Denmark is not only one of the most developed countries in the world in terms of living standards and technology, but it’s also at the forefront of the push towards eliminating cash in favor of 100% digital currency. Therefore, wide-scale adoption of digital currency is not a question of if, but when. But whether Bitcoin will be used as a means of exchange or an alternative to the central banking monopoly or both, remains to be seen.
What’s more is that the Danish Central Bank declared Bitcoin not a currency, stating that it will not regulate its use in the country. Denmark is home to a number of Bitcoin startups and exchanges such as CCEDK, which has been a prolific innovator in the crypto-space with recent releases of Bitcoin “3.0” technology and decentralized exchange.
“I think freedom goes well with responsibility, which is something we are brought up with as a vital part of all lessons in school, and with this kind of easy access to crypto, we all carry this responsibility on our shoulders to bring this kind of currency to mainstream acceptance,” CCEDK CEO Ronny Boesing told Bitcoin.com, adding:
“Denmark was recently voted being the happiest country in the world, and the open mind towards cryptocurrency is just another reason to be happy living in Denmark.”
The LocalBitcoins trading volume has also indicated gradual growth in demand, particularly after plans to eliminate cash were announced in spring 2015.
Similar to Denmark, Sweden is also out in front in the race to eliminate cash. When factoring in the recent introduction of negative interest rates by the Swedish Riksbank, a surge in demand for bitcoins could become a reality in the not too distance future as citizens scramble to for safe haven to store their wealth.
The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen) have legitimized the fast growing industry in the country by publicly declaring Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) as a means of payment. Though certain businesses interacting with fiat (mainly exchanges) must file for a license in accordance with AML/CTF and KYC regulations.
Sweden is home to numerous Bitcoin startups including the Safello bitcoin exchange and Stockholm-based KnCMiner, a well-known mining hardware developer that has been producing cutting-edge ASIC miners since 2013. The LocalBitcoins volume has reflected continued growth in cryptocurrency demand.
Home to a vibrant tech-industry, which includes giants such as Samsung and LG, and having one of the highest smartphone penetration and mobile payment rates in the world, it is no surprise South Korea is quickly embracing Bitcoin both as an investment and means of exchange.
Since there are no laws in the country regulating Bitcoin use, a number of related startups have sprung up as a result including Korbit, “a secure and comprehensive service to use, accept, and buy bitcoin” that also focuses on remittances and cross-border payments. People can also buy bitcoins at 7-Eleven stores across the country thanks to a campaign by South Korean bitcoin exchange platform Coinplug.
South Korea is also a regular host of Bitcoin conferences and has provided a friendly climate for the local Bitcoin community.
“Bitcoin is about tearing down artificial financial barriers around the world,” said Bitcoin investor Roger Ver. “As an economic and societal hub in Asia, Seoul is a fantastic place to have a Bitcoin conference.”
How can a country not be called Bitcoin-friendly when it boasts its own “Bitcoin City” i.e. Arnhem with over 100 merchants? Here, a Bitcoiner could probably get everything he wants including gas, accommodation, bicycles, and even dental services.
Cryptocurrencies are currently not regulated under the Act on Financial Supervision of the Netherlands, which is why numerous startups, Bitcoin ATMs and even a Bitcoin Embassy in the heart of Amsterdam have sprung up as a result. The climate has fostered vibrant Bitcoin communities across the country that host regular meet-ups and events.
Additionally, the country’s banking sector, including ABN Amro and ING, has been increasingly looking at Bitcoin and the blockchain as a way to improve their own technology and cut costs. The Netherlands is a regular host of Bitcoin conferences and Bitcoin companies such as BitPay.
Just like its Scandinavian neighbors, Finland has also been on the cutting edge of technological innovation, renowned for being the home of Nokia. The Finnish Central Board of Taxes (CBT) regulator has classified Bitcoin as a financial service, exempting it and bitcoin purchases from VAT.
The country has a significant amount of Bitcoin ATMs given its sparse population including 10 in the capital of Helsinki according to coinATMradar. The country is also home to exchanges FinCCX and Bittiraha as well as the leading global P2P bitcoin exchange LocalBitcoins. In January of 2016, the most expensive bitcoin sale involving a luxury vehicle took place at the Auto-outlet Helsinki Oy of a Tesla Model S worth over € 140,000.
Canada is home to numerous Bitcoin startups and ATMs, and is right on the heels of its southern neighbor as far as a Bitcoin-friendly climate is concerned. The country boasts not one but two cities in the eastern and western parts that can be deemed “Bitcoin hubs,” namely Toronto and Vancouver. Bitcoin is regulated under the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws in Canada following long deliberation and even testimony from Bitcoin expert Andreas Antonopoulos before the Senate of Canada.
Canada is home to a bustling cryptocurrency community and startups such as Decentral, the Vanbex Group as well as thousands of accepting merchants. Vancouver alone has over 20 Bitcoin ATMs while on September 19th, 2016, Toronto is slated to host the largest blockchain conference to date. The LocalBitcoins volume has grown consistently in the country since 2013.
The UK is often seen as the leading global financial hub and a center of innovation. Therefore, the presence of numerous Bitcoin and blockchain related startups, BTMs, and an active community makes it a Bitcoin-friendly environment indeed. The country also sees new payment solution as inevitable and is preparing itself for mass-scale digital currency adoption in the future, as you can already grab a pint at many local pubs for bitcoin.
What’s more is that the Bank of England has been closely looking at Bitcoin technology and has even requested the public to pitch ideas on how to improve its monetary system. Currently, Bitcoin is treated as “private money,” where VAT is imposed in a normal way from suppliers of any goods or services sold in exchange for bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. While profits and losses on cryptocurrencies are subject to capital gains tax, similar to the US.
UK’s Barclays bank writes:
It is becoming increasingly clear that Bitcoin is part of an even bigger story: financial institutions, including barclays are now considering how the technology underpinning digital currencies – the blockchain – could itself revolutionize finance.
UK’s LocalBitcoins volume has reflected this sentiment, showing steady growth.
While Australia’s major banks have been rather hostile towards Bitcoin, the country recently moved to remove “double taxation” on Bitcoin, which came as good news to the local community and businesses; particularly after some Bitcoin startups chose to leave the country, in light of unfavorable taxation and reported bank account freezes.
Bitcoin, however, remains unregulated as the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia stated in an interview that “There would be nothing to stop people in this country deciding to transact in some other currency in a shop if they wanted to. There’s no law against that, so we do have competing currencies.” Australia classifies bitcoin as property and therefore purchases made with bitcoin as barter, according to Wikipedia.
The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is currently testing distributed ledger technology, in relation to which former JP Morgan executive Blythe Masters said Australia could see “the first successful blockchain project in the world.” Moreover, the Australia Post will also consider using distributed ledger technology to store digital identities in an effort to improve service and reverse falling revenue.
The country is home to many exchanges and LocalBitcoins volume has been rising steadily.
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Images courtesy of coin.dance, seoulsuburban.com