Analysis of the Bitcoin blockchain: socio-economic factors behind the adoption
Data Science Laboratory ISI Foundation, Torino, Italy
2 Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad de Buenos Aires, INTECIN (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina
* e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 7 October 2018
Published online: 16 October 2018
As the first decentralized digital currency introduced in 2009 together with the blockchain, Bitcoin offers new opportunities both for developed and developing countries. Bitcoin peer-to-peer transactions are independent of the banking system, facilitating foreign exchanges with low transaction fees, such as remittances, and offering a high degree of anonymity. These opportunities together with other key factors led the Bitcoin to become extremely popular and caused its price to skyrocket during 2017 (Henry et al. in J Digit Bank 2(4):311–337, 2018).
However, while the Bitcoin blockchain attracts a lot of attention, it remains difficult to investigate where this attention comes from, due to the pseudo-anonymity of the system, and consequently to appreciate its social impact. Here we make an attempt to characterize the adoption of the Bitcoin blockchain by country. In the first part of the work we show that information about the number of Bitcoin software client downloads, the IP addresses that act as relays for the transactions, and the Internet searches about Bitcoin provide together a coherent picture of the system evolution in different countries. Using these quantities as a proxy for user adoption, we identify several socio-economic indexes such as the GDP per capita, freedom of trade and the Internet penetration as key variables correlated with the degree of user adoption.
In the second part of the work, we build a network of Bitcoin transactions between countries using the IP addresses of nodes relaying transactions and we develop an augmented version of the gravity model of trade in order to identify socio-economic factors linked to the flow of Bitcoin between countries. In a nutshell our study provides a new insight on Bitcoin adoption by country and on the potential socio-economic drivers of the international Bitcoin flow.
Key words: Bitcoin blockchain / Transaction network / Bitcoin adoption
© The Author(s), 2018