2021 was a highlight year for the cryptocurrency industry, with rapid growth noted not just in the asset market, but also in the infrastructure surrounding it. Big 4 accounting firm KPMG, which itself revealed holding Bitcoin and Ethereum on its Canada arm’s balance sheet earlier, has now highlighted in a report that investments in the crypto and blockchain sector were upwards of $30 billion in 2021.
This was more than five times the $5.5 billion in investment seen in 2020.
While the crypto-market maturing in the North American region during this time has been a bullish development, KPMG’s “Pulse of Fintech 2021” report shed light on other regions that could be dominating the space soon. More interestingly, much of this upward push in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Asia-Pacific (ASPAC) regions has been due to regulatory headwinds, the report noted.
Positive regulations stimulating growth
Cryptocurrency interest in the EMEA region has been accelerating in 2021. In fact, the report singled out jurisdictions like Germany and Portugal that have “clear regulations.” This was highlighted in Coinbase choosing Germany as its European headquarters last year, becoming the first company to get crypto-custody approval from Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority.
Going forward, the next big thing in the FinTech space for this region would be both B2B payments and cryptocurrencies as its erstwhile focal direct-to-consumer space has now reached maturity. Other trends to look for in the present year could be a growth in allocation to the decentralized finance (DeFi) space, along with a “stronger push for the development of a common regulatory framework for crypto.”
China Ban or Boon?
Similar growth in the digital asset market due to regulatory moves was also seen in the ASPAC region. The report noted that China’s blanket ban on crypto trading and mining in mid-2021 led to neighbouring regions emerging as promising crypto-hubs.
“During 2021, China continued to enhance regulations in the fintech space — most notably banning cryptocurrency transactions, bitcoin mining, and the facilitation of cryptocurrency trading. While the uptick in regulatory activity in China led some fintech investors to pull-back from China, it also raised the profile of other fintech hubs in the region — including India and Singapore.”
While India too has expressed an ambiguous stance toward the industry, Singapore has seized the opportunity. The city-state saw $1.48 billion worth of investments pouring into the crypto-space in 2021. Although most of this was focused on software and underlying infrastructure rather than services.
The report also found that the government’s efforts to stimulate the market played an important role in this direction.
However, Singapore’s government may soon be ramping up its efforts to bring the unregulated market under control. This already includes a crackdown on cryptocurrency advertising and Bitcoin ATMs, along with strict reporting and registration procedures for cryptocurrency firms and exchanges.