The World’s Busiest Crypto Exchanges In 2023

A recent Coincub report showed activity dynamics in cryptocurrency exchanges globally last year. The United States, Europe, India, Indonesia, and Turkey lead the list of countries with the most traffic, each for unique reasons tied to their economic and regulatory characteristics.

Crypto Exchanges In 2023

The report also revealed a looming paradigm shift with heightened competition from emerging exchanges threatening the positions of established Binance and Coinbase. In the following sections, we explore the busiest crypto exchanges in the world, peeling back the layers of the extraordinary global interest in cryptocurrencies and specific platforms.

Europe Dominates Global Per Capita Visits

Europe topped the list for the most per capita visits to crypto exchanges. The spike can be attributed to increasing regulations after the European Union approved the world’s first comprehensive set of regulations to govern crypto assets, bringing some order to the previously unregulated “Wild West” crypto industry.

The new E.U. legislation introduced a “travel rule” similar to traditional finance, aiming to make crypto transactions traceable and block suspicious and illegitimate transactions.  More recently, they tried to tilt the scale in favor of local firms and limit non-EU crypto companies.

Despite facing multiple legal battles worldwide, Binance emerged as the dominant player across several countries, including Sweden and Ukraine, with 56.3% of the Swedish traffic and 48.9% of the Ukraine traffic. The preference for Binance is partly because the exchange aimed to offer some of the lowest fees in the industry. However, the exchange has also invested heavily in advertising, using iconic sports personalities, social media, mobile application ads, and other opportunities to push the brand in front of everyone’s eyes.

Binance is one of many dominant forces in Europe, while exchanges like Coinbase and Tidex boast strongholds in specific countries like the United Kingdom and Italy. Tidex, based in Italy, has 29.7% of its traffic from the country, while 30% of the U.K.’s visitors preferred Coinbase.

The Netherlands also stands out, accounting for a remarkable 79.0% of all traffic to the Bitvavo exchange. Hungary and Malta also have significant market share in their respective crypto exchanges, with Tidex dominating the market share in both countries.

These exchanges are building traction in individual countries, which hints at a future fragmented market where multiple players are forced to share equal pieces of the pie.

Smaller countries like Lichtenstein and Monaco also have notable crypto exchange activity dominated by unique players like Whitebit and Kraken, further highlighting the competitive landscape emerging in Europe.

United States Maintains Top Spot for Most Traffic

The United States remained a dominant force in 2023. With more than half of all exchange visits, the North American market is the focus of many top crypto exchanges, despite the country’s criticism for its sluggish approach to crypto rule-making.

Federal agencies like the SEC, CFTC, FTC, and Treasury, including the IRS, OCC, and FinCEN, had shown interest in cryptocurrencies, praising the technology, but little formal rulemaking occurred.

When innovators began moving away from the country, the congressional committee was prompted to pass a major crypto bill, which turned out to be a significant victory for the cryptocurrency industry. The government also warned that it would cut off exchanges that failed to block and report illicit crypto transactions.

Selva Ozelli Esq., CPA, Author of “Sustainably Investing in Digital Assets”, explained – “In the US, digital assets, particularly post-2022 bear market, have been the focus of much attention by both federal and state governments.  Investors should beware that federal agencies Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodity Futures Trading Commission  (CFTC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the New York State Attorney General during 2023 ramped up legal enforcement efforts against world’s largest digital asset exchanges reaching a wide range of misconduct, that occurred in both U.S. and foreign jurisdictions.

This happened ahead of SEC’s approval of Bitcoin ETFs on January 10th, which took over a decade of efforts by fund managers to accomplish, that institutionalized Bitcoin allowing digital assets to forever seep into investor’s portfolios in the US.  Nevertheless, both the US’s and world’s largest digital asset exchanges, Coinbase and Binance, are still embroiled in lawsuits with the SEC  for not abiding by many federal securities laws.

The federal securities laws have two basic objectives: (1) require that investors receive financial and other significant information concerning securities being offered for public sale; and (2) prohibit deceit, misrepresentations, and other fraud in the sale of securities.”

As far as exchanges are concerned, Coinbase is the preferred exchange in the U.S. market, with over 50% of the country’s exchange traffic. This is a significant stronghold, considering the region accounts for more than half of all cryptocurrency exchange activity.

Binance saw the next most visits from the U.S. at over 34 million, a mere 6.2% traffic share and only 3.3% of its global traffic. Its U.S. division, Binance.US, is seventh in the list. Binance and Binance.US faced increasing regulatory scrutiny regarding compliance with U.S. financial laws.

Gemini.com is another exchange with a significant presence, getting 73% of its traffic from the U.S. market. The exchange is known for its stringent security measures and adherence to regulation. The high levels of crypto exchange activity shown by the U.S. are attributed to the region’s stringent regulations designed to protect investors.

A report from Coinbase on the growing interest in cryptocurrencies also shows that investors in the U.S. believe crypto makes more sense than stocks, bonds, real estate, and other depreciating awareness. Increased awareness and new legislation further boost confidence in crypto investments, explaining why U.S. investors dominate global exchange visits.

India Becomes Binance’s Biggest Market

In 2023, India experienced significant developments in the crypto landscape. Only the U.S. recorded more exchange activity than India, showing an ongoing interest and rapid adoption of cryptocurrencies.

However, despite visiting crypto exchanges in large numbers, India’s per capita visit remains low, given its huge population of more than 1.4 billion.

India became the biggest market for Binance, recording over 75 million visits to the exchange. This was one of the significant developments in the country’s crypto activity in 2023. The numbers represented 7% of Binance’s global traffic and 22% of the country’s market share, but Binance isn’t the only exchange enjoying a significant presence in the region.

Exchanges like Wazirx and Coindxc are also significant players focused on the Indian market, with 91% and 86% of their global traffic coming from the Indian market.

The cryptocurrency community in India was expected to grow to 156 million users in 2023, indicating a burgeoning interest in digital currencies. However, the country grapples with regulatory challenges and an uncertain landscape.

The Indian government announced plans to introduce regulatory measures to govern the crypto ecosystem. Financial reforms and policies for cryptocurrencies were not announced during the Finance Minister’s budget speech for the 2023-2024 year, but the region’s Economic Survey of 2023 highlighted the need for regulations.

India’s Finance Minister emphasized the importance of collective action and international collaboration for standardizing crypto regulations at the G20 meeting. However, no direct policy announcements were made.

In 2023, India made a significant tax policy by introducing a tax deducted at source (TDS) on all crypto transactions. This move led to a drastic reduction in trading volumes on major exchanges. Cointelegraph reported transaction volumes dropping by 70% within the first 10 days and nearly 90% by the third month. The policy shift also pushed crypto traders to offshore exchanges, and upcoming crypto exchanges moved outside India.

Despite these changes, India’s population and interest in crypto make it the busiest BRICS country in terms of crypto exchange activity. The high engagement with crypto stems from an increased interest in digital payments, whose roots are in the early demonetization experiment. The young, tech-savvy population also finds virtual assets preferable, and increasing adoption by businesses further reinforces the inclination to choose crypto.

Turkey Leads Europe in Crypto Exchange Visits

Turkey became the world’s fourth-biggest crypto-trading nation in 2023, recording more than 215 million visits to exchanges, a figure only topped by Indonesia, India, and the U.S. The country also introduced new rules to regulate the crypto market, with an emphasis on licensing and taxation.

The country has grappled with economic turmoil in the last few years, with inflation soaring north of the 60% mark. Citizens seeking financial refuge turned to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, causing the boom seen in recent times. The years of double-digit inflation and a continuing drop in the value of the Turkish lira against major currencies like the dollar have left investors with fewer options than crypto.

Within one year, from July 2022 to June 2023, Turkey saw around $170 billion in crypto activity, per data from Chainalysis. Binance is the dominant exchange in the area, drawing 6% of its global traffic from the market, representing 29% of the country’s market share.

Exchanges like Btcturk and Paribu are also major players in the market, with 98% and 99% of their global traffic coming from Turkey, respectively. Bitexen.com also receives 97% of its global crypto exchange traffic from Turkey, commanding 2.5% of the country’s market share. Other notable mentions include ICRYPEX and Bitlo, which have 98% and 94% of their traffic from Turkey, albeit with 1% of the market share, respectively.

Another exchange that commands a decent market share is trBinance.com, with 5.9% of all Turkish traffic. Turkey presents a scene with several competing exchanges receiving relatively equal traffic from local investors.

Apart from Binance.com and btcturk.com, all the other exchanges command single-digit market share and are fairly close to one another in traffic.

According to Erhan Kahraman, editor at Cointelegraph, the Coincub report aligns with the overall narrative of cryptocurrencies as a hedge against inflation. “Turkey has endured skyrocketing inflation rates, especially since the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic,” notes Kahraman. “Bitcoin was around 400,000 Turkish liras at the start of 2023, and it closed the year at around 1.2 million Turkish liras.”

Kahraman also shared his sentiments that credits are limited, and USD is scarce, leading investors to crypto as a means to hedge their holdings in a liquid and easily accessible form. However, exchanges also have a presence in Turkey, using ads on highway billboards, T.V. commercials, and brand partnerships with major sports teams to attract investors.

Still, on the marketing front, the editor went on to say, “That aggressive marketing, coupled with the Turkish population’s never-ending quest on get-rich-quick schemes due to the lack of a reliable economic structure, is reflected in the report.”

Indonesia Shows Dominance by Local Crypto Exchange

Indonesia saw over 277 million visitors to crypto exchanges in 2023, becoming the third country with the most active users. The country had launched a national crypto asset bourse to help regulators record transactions and protect investors.

Indonesia was ranked seventh in Chainalysis’ 2023 global crypto adoption index, highlighting the country’s rapid adoption of digital assets. Indodax is the dominant player in the region, enjoying 24% of the country’s market share and receiving 97% of its global traffic.

Binance and Latoken are the only other exchanges with double-digit market share, at 13% and 11%, respectively.

TokoCrypto is another exchange enjoying a significant share, with 93% of its global traffic coming from the Indonesian market. The Indonesian crypto market has been growing rapidly and recorded a surge in investors, reaching 18.25 million from January to November 2023. This rapid growth can be credited to a mobile-first strategy that has made the crypto commodity available to investors through convenient mobile apps.

Indonesia’s internet and smartphone penetration rates stood at nearly 70% in 2020, explaining the heightened traction from the region’s mobile-heavy user base. While crypto is banned as a payment method, it is perfectly legal as a tradable commodity in licensed exchanges.

Conclusion

In 2023, the global digital asset user base reached 670 million, a 57% surge from 2022. This growth was propelled by renewed investor confidence following a bear market. Fast-forward to 2024, SEC’s approval of eleven Bitcoin ETFs in January 2024, featuring prominent entities like Grayscale and BlackRock, is poised to elevate the market further.

Selva added “Already several countries offer BTC ETF’s – US, Canada, Germany, Brazil,  Australia, and Chile as well as tax havens Cayman Islands, Jersey, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Guernsey.  With  the U.S. SEC approval, Hong Kong which is part of BRICS and other countries have voiced interest in approving bitcoin ETFs soon.”

The regulatory landscape is also set to change, with India, Turkey, and the UK all working towards new rules. In the US, the IRS temporarily suspended Form 8300 digital asset reporting, anticipating forthcoming regulations with tax implications. “Investors who are facing an April 15, 2024 tax deadline are reminded by the IRS to continue to  report their digital asset income on tax forms 1040, 1040-SR, 1040-NR and forms 1041, 1065, 1120 and 1120-S” said Selva.

As crypto proliferates in modern society, new regulations will shape how investors approach virtual assets. We’ll also see a rise in options as smaller exchanges emerge to claim their share of the ever-growing pie. But for now, Binance and Coinbase remain the dominant players in the industry.

Sergiu Hamza is the CEO & Founder of Coincub, and co-author of “Bite-Size Bitcoin – A guide to the world’s largest cryptocurrency”. Featured in Financial Times, Yahoo Finance, and Cointelegraph.

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