The Middle East & North Africa (MENA) is the world’s fastest-growing crypto market, with the region notching US$566 billion in cryptocurrency payments from July 2021 to June 2022, up 48% from last year, according to a Wednesday report from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.
Emerging markets dominated Chainalysis’ 2022 Global Crypto Adoption Index, with Latin America second in transaction volume growth at about 40% from last year. North America was third at about 36% growth, but with Central and Southern Asia close behind.
Though MENA may be one of the smaller crypto markets measured by Chainalysis, it is on the rise in adoption, with Turkey, Egypt and Morocco in the top 25 this year.
Egypt was MENA’s fastest-growing crypto market, with transaction volume tripling in this year’s report compared to last year. The growth was supported by the country’s national bank project to build a crypto-based remittance corridor with the United Arab Emirates, where many Egyptian citizens work. Remittance payments account for about 8% of Egypt’s GDP.
Turkey remains Chainalysis’ most prominent cryptocurrency market in the region, with its citizens receiving US$192 billion from July 2021 to June 2022. Still, it has seen slower year-over-year growth than Egypt and Morocco.
In Turkey and Egypt, high inflation rates and rapid fiat currency devaluations are likely pushing some investors to crypto as an alternative means of preserving their savings, the report said. Against the U.S. dollar, the Turkish lira has weakened by over 100% during the past year, while the Egyptian pound weakened by over 25%, according to data from MarketWatch.
Inflation has been most severe in Turkey, with the Turkish Statistical Institute reporting that yearly inflation was over 83% in September. However, the independent inflation research group ENAGrup estimates annual CPI inflation is at about 186% as of press time.
In Morocco, inflation rates have been more moderate. Chainalysis said the North African country’s high rating on the index is likely attributed to the government’s newly permissive stance on grassroots adoption.
Morocco prohibited cryptocurrency trading in 2017, but the asset’s popularity has grown since. Earlier this year, the country’s central bank committed to crypto regulations, emphasizing innovation and consumer protection.
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