Bitcoins are identical - no bitcoin is different to another. Bitcoins should therefore trade at the same amount in exchange rate adjusted terms anywhere in the world. However… they do not. Using peer-to-peer trading data and official exchange rate data, the btc index finds where bitcoins sell at a premium or discount. The fun begins in explaining why we see what we see - and finding any opportunities or risks that this might entail. For more explanation of the index and its methodology see the homepage.
This monthly bulletin provides a snap shot of changes in the index from one month to the next. It breaks down the index by geographic region then orders the countries from those where bitcoins sell at the highest premium to those where they sell at highest discount. When reading the charts the black dots correspond to the last month and the orange dots correspond to the current month. Faint arrows are provided to further help in interpreting the direction of the changes.
Top 5 movers for the month
Continued inflation in Iran and additional currency collapse in Lebanon mean that these two countries are those where bitcoins sell at the highest premium in the world. A large move from Oman is noteworthy and might be linked to continued efforts to clamp down on foreign investment. Apart from that most countries official exchange rates correspond closely to their implied btc index rates. Turkey stands out in this regard given its recent currency depreciation.
Movements in Honduras, Colombia and Argentina are the most noteworthy of this month for the Americas. The premium paid for bitcoins in Honduras has jumped on the index from 0.25 to 0.65 on the btc index. This might be linked to a confluence of hits to the country including several hurricanes and Covid-19. As Colombia’s peso continues to close in on the 1 sat milestone (i.e. where 1 COP = 1 sat) they have gone from selling at a premium to a discount - the highest discount in the region. Argentina maintains its place as being the country in which bitcoins sell at the highest discount though that premium has marginally declined.
The jumps in premium for bitcoins in Ethiopia and Eritrea are most striking about this month’s btc index for Africa. The premiums almost doubled from 0.44 to 0.81 in the course of the month. This is almost certainly attributable to the civil war that is raging in Ethiopia - in times of tumult bitcoins tend to sell at premiums. The only country in Africa where bitcoins sold at a discount for the month was Uganda.
In all countries across Europe bitcoins were selling at a premium this month. Countries that use the Euro, which typically does not exchange for bitcoins at a discount or a premium, saw a slight move into premium territory. This might have been a consequence of the run-up of bitcoin’s price in fiat terms during the month, which can create short term premiums as more buying pile-in for limited bitcoins. Bulgaria saw a large correction as the premium decreased from >2.0 to ~1.0. Bitcoins continue to be exchanged for Russian rubles at close to the official exchange rate, which is a long-standing trend that bucks the exchange rate and oil price turmoil that the country saw during 2020.
Not much movement in Oceania as most currency pairs continue to trade for bitcoins at or close to their official exchange rates. Most countries use either the Australian dollar or New Zealand dollar, which as industrialised countries with stable macroeconomic conditions do not usually show much deviation from their official rates.
Stayed tuned… and subscribe
That’s it for this first monthly bulletin of the btc index. Each month a new bulletin will be posted with insights about why deviations and changes are seen across countries and currencies.