Nigeria Emerges as Global Leader in Bitcoin Interest

Nigeria Emerges as Global Leader in Bitcoin Interest
Photo by Nupo Deyon Daniel / Unsplash

Nigeria has emerged as the leader in Bitcoin-related search interest. The country has surpassed El Salvador, where Bitcoin is recognized as legal tender. Despite this, Nigerian authorities have significantly tightened oversight of the crypto sector since the beginning of 2024.

Nigeria has topped the global ranking of countries in terms of Bitcoin interest, according to Google Trends. Ukraine ranks 53rd on this list.

According to the data, Nigeria scored 100 points. El Salvador, where Bitcoin is legal tender, is in second place with a score of 97. The top five also include Ethiopia, Switzerland, and Brazil. Ukraine is positioned at 53rd place.

The ranking is based on the number of "bitcoin" queries in Google's search engine over the last 24 hours, from June 2 to June 3, 2024. Changing these parameters would alter the list.

For example, over a 30 or 90-day period, El Salvador would be the leader. This could indicate a growing interest among Nigerians in the first cryptocurrency amid strict regulatory policies.

The chart shows that the peak interest in Bitcoin in recent months coincides with the halving event on the network. Afterward, interest began to gradually decline with small, brief spikes:

Regulatory Climate in Nigeria

In October 2021, Nigeria became the first country in Africa to have its own central bank digital currency (CBDC) — the eNaira. However, the project failed. A year later, the adoption rate of this payment method was just 0.5%.

Despite this, local interest in crypto assets remains high despite government pressure on the sector. Notably, in February 2022, the government banned banks from servicing crypto companies.

In February 2024, information emerged that authorities plan to completely block crypto exchanges as part of efforts to stabilize the national currency. According to the government, the P2P sector, supported by these platforms, caused the currency's devaluation.

In March, the local regulator published new guidelines for virtual asset service providers. Notably, it proposed increasing the registration fee by 400%. Additionally, the CEO of a company planning to operate legally in Nigeria must reside in the country.

In May, it was reported that fintech firms began blocking client accounts for crypto asset transactions. Amid this, one of the largest crypto exchanges — Binance — faced regulatory pressure. Moreover, two of its top managers were detained.