The world of money and fnance is transforming before our eyes. Digitsed assets and
innovatve fnancial channels, instruments and systems are creatng new paradigms for
fnancial transacton and forging alternatve conduits of capital. The Cambridge Centre for
Alternatve Finance, since its founding in 2015, has been at the forefront of documentng,
analysing and indeed critcally challenging that digital fnancial transformaton.
This Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study is our inaugural research focused on
alternatve payment systems and digital assets. Led by Dr Garrick Hileman, it is the frst study
of its kind to holistcally examine the burgeoning global cryptocurrency industry and its key
consttuents, which include exchanges, wallets, payments and mining.
The fndings are both striking and thought-provoking. First, the user adopton of various
cryptocurrencies has really taken of, with billions in market cap and millions of wallets
estmated to have been ‘actve’ in 2016. Second, the cryptocurrency industry is both
globalised and localised, with borderless exchange operatons, as well as geographically
clustered mining actvites. Third, the industry is becoming more fuid, as the lines between
exchanges and wallets are increasingly ‘blurred’ and a multtude of cryptocurrencies, not just
bitcoin, are now supported by a growing ecosystem, fulflling an array of functons. Fourth,
issues of security and regulatory compliance are likely to remain prevalent for years to come.

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