Bitcoin's Performance Against Crisis Currencies

Previous research indicates that Bitcoin is an unlikely safe haven during the initial stages of an equity market meltdown. How has it fared against the fiat currencies that are currently in crisis?

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As outlined in Will Bitcoin Thrive in an Equity Market Meltdown?, we were skeptical of bitcoins ability to provide a safe haven during the initial stages of an equity market meltdown.1

However, recent and rapid currency depreciations in countries including Argentina and Turkey, have strengthened the case for viewing bitcoin as a long term store of value. Let’s have a look at the currencies that have become major losers against BTC.

Currency 1-year USD 1-year BTC
ARS -126% -274.5%
TRY -95% -274.5%
BRL -33% -121.3%
ZAR -20.1% -100.1%
INR -12.2% -85.9%

Argentina has a long history of hyperinflation, many of its citizens were early users of bitcoin. Turkey has several crypto exchanges, which have seen rising demand from locals wanting to get out of the lira. Flows also show strong demand from South Africa as the rand has weakened against the USD.

So is it time to open accounts on local exchanges and buy pairs such as BTC/ZAR? That depends, although the 1-year performance seems stellar across the board, bitcoin is still very much in a bear market against currencies such as the South African rand and Indian rupee. An adventurous investor, believing the peso faces additional weakness, may join the current bull market by buying the BTC/ARS on an Argentinian exchange.

Risks to the trade

a few hours after this post was published, Zebpay, one of India’s crypto exchanges, announced that they would no longer accept or deal with rupees. This means Zebpay will no longer be able to function as a fiat on-ramp. Although, the announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise, the Reserve Bank of India effectively outlawed banking transactions in April, it may provide a blueprint for central banks of crisis currencies going forward. More on this in an upcoming post.

  1. We’ve later come to revise this thesis a bit.

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