Cryptocyrrencies Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, dogecoin with trditional money. Photo: iStock
Cryptocurrencies have had a horror week in the market. Image: iStock

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP are now part of mainstream finance, yet the market remains famously highly speculative. So how do investors get a handle on not only the current state of the crypto market, but also what is likely to occur in the future? They look to Asia.

Because of Asian markets’ cutting-edge interest in emerging technology, it is imperative for investors to look at them when deciphering what the next major move may be.

As such, it comes as little surprise that countries including Japan and South Korea boarded the crypto train from the outset. You only need to look at the statistics. One in three South Koreans owns digital currency or gets paid in it. This is far beyond any figures from the US. In addition, about 31% of employees in South Korea are crypto investors, compared with a 7.8% ownership rate for those in the US.

Looking back, Asian markets have long been a useful guide in terms of future price movements and developing crypto trends.

After the trading ban in South Korea, Bitcoin sustained an almost US$2,000 discount. In Japan, after regulators voiced plans to crack down on exchanges and regulations to curb money-laundering, the price of Bitcoin plummeted again.

However, Asian markets also provide data on where the cryptocurrency industry may be going next.

Whereas in US regulators continue to deliberate on classifying crypto – securities, currencies or commodities, for example – it’s all very different in Thailand. This year the Digital Asset Business Decree was set up, identifying digital currencies as a medium of exchange as well as defining tokens as “rights to participate in a digital environment.”

Thai regulators now permit investment in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Stellar, and Ethereum Classic. Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are then denominated and undertaken in the chosen seven currencies.

However, it’s not just Thailand paving the crypto way. This year in South Korea a National Assembly committee stated that it was looking into boosting the legal status of cryptocurrencies in the country, as well as a potential reversal of the ICO ban.

This change in opinion on digital currencies by regulators and officials in countries such as South Korea will likely lead to the same action in Western markets.

Furthermore – and something that is massive in Asia – is the coming together of the cryptocurrency and gaming industries. Serious gamers are already used to dealing with virtual currencies, and have been for many years, which is something that other consumers perhaps aren’t accustomed to.

As a result, crypto innovators and entrepreneurs in Asia are closely monitoring what is an ever-growing trend. With some of the biggest gaming markets on the planet, according to the website TechinAsia, gaming may become “the key to taking blockchain mainstream.”

Digital-currency enthusiasts in Asia are seeing the immense growth and development of crypto first-hand. As a result, they are pioneering products to cater to soaring demand.

For all these reasons, investors across the globe look to Asia, and will continue to do so more and more, on what may happen next in the world of cryptocurrencies, which are, after all, the future of money.

Nigel Green founded deVere Group in 2002 from a single office in Hong Kong after discovering a niche market for expatriates in the financial services sector. Since then, it has grown to become one of the largest independent financial advisory organizations in the world with offices and clients across the globe.