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In an era where we are navigating skyrocketing inflation rates, and with more than 20% of the world’s population lacking access to financial institutions, decentralized finance has been rising in popularity.

With its borderless nature and decentralized infrastructure, DeFi holds the potential to create a freer, fairer, and more inclusive financial ecosystem.

In this article, we explore the wide range DeFi use cases around the world and the different adoption and development factors that define regions’ preferences.

And if you want a deep dive into the DeFi industry and the future of finance, download our in-depth report:

Download RIF’s Everyday DeFi Report

Central, Northern, and Western Europe

Central, Northern, and Western Europe have been dominating the global crypto market for the past two years (2021 and 2022) with the main use cases being NFTs and gaming. 

The European Union has also taken the lead in regulatory advancements, launching different policies and regulations, such as the Crypto Travel Rule, and Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA), to provide clarity and support DeFi growth.

North America

North America is the second-largest crypto market in the world and the market with the highest rate of DeFi adoption. NFTs, DEXs, and gaming have the largest transaction sizes, often due to the population’s growing interest in the entertainment industry and the expanding trends of virtual reality and digital art. 

NFTs saw major consumer brands like Nike and Adidas take part, and even all four professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB) jumped into the fun. This played a major role in establishing grounds for smaller brands to leverage this novel technology in marketing campaigns, tokenizing merch, and crowdfunding.

Central & Southern Asia and Oceania

Central and Southern Asia and Oceania were the third largest crypto market globally. NFTs and Play-to-Earn games make up most of the activity there, with the Philipines accounting for 40% of the player base of Axie Infinity, one of the largest NFT-based online games. 

Remittances are also a prominent use case, with the decentralized nature of DeFi serving as an alternative to traditional banking in a region further distanced from the rest of the world.

Eastern Asia

Eastern Asia is the fourth largest cryptocurrency market, dropping from third in the past year due to China’s strict regulation. These regulations, however, have been renegotiated earlier in 2023, which may reignite interest in DeFi in China.

Furthermore, DeFi has doubled in popularity in Japan, with DEXs and derivatives as the main use case. Anime, comics, and video game NFTs have become quite popular, with many famous Asian brands taking part.

Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe is the fifth largest market in the world, with growth being driven by the Ukraine-Russia conflict, as well as Russia’s removal from the SWIFT payment system. 

Remittances and donations have been playing a big role in the growth of DeFi in the region, with over $225 million in cryptocurrencies donated to Ukraine alone. Unsteady inflation in the area has also driven users to choose crypto, especially stablecoins, over local currencies to protect the value of their money in a safer and more stable manner. 

Latin America

Latin America represents a fertile ground for the growth of fundamental DeFi use cases like inflation protection with stablecoins, global remittances, and low-interest lending.

This growth is primarily driven by the high inflation rates in the region and the persistent financial exclusion with ~70% of the population being unbanked. 

Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

The Middle East and North Africa is the fastest-growing area for crypto adoption. Governments across the region also have more permissive policies when it comes to blockchain technology, with some even encouraging their citizens to use it. 

Store of value, and remittances are the top DeFi use cases in the MENA region, primarily due to high inflation, and migration rates. 

Sub Saharan Africa

The Sub-Saharan African market is the smallest crypto market in the world and is slowly showing significant integration and adoption of DeFi. 

Similar to Latin America, stablecoins and peer-to-peer transactions are the top use cases in the Sub-Saharan region. The growth in these two use cases is due to high inflation and low employment rates leading fresh grads to seek alternative ways to grow their wealth.

What’s Next

Crypto and blockchain adoption has been growing all around the world with use cases aiming to solve real problems for underdeveloped economies. 

And with more efforts put into growing the use cases and developing regulatory policies, it is expected to see DeFi serve as a cheaper, faster, and more inclusive financial ecosystem side by side with the development of the Fintech industry.

If you want to dig deeper into the future of finance, download our in-depth report to learn more about the DeFi industry, the key use cases driving its adoption, and the market gaps and entry barriers for both existing players and new joiners entering this space.

Download RIF’s Everyday DeFi Report

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