Bitcoin Interest: International Comparison
Google trends provides historical data on the amount of searches conducted in specific countries. With Bitcoin being a global phenomenon, I was interested if all the countries followed the same news stories. Are the hearings in the Senate in the US attracting as much interest in the rest of the world? Does the opening of a Bitcoin ATM machine in Canada get picked up in internet traffic in Brazil. The data provided by google is useful to compare within countries rather than between countries, however, we are able to see whether the growth in search terms is similar across countries and whether they occur at the same time.
Google trends firstly normalise the search results and then scale them so that the highest point on their graphs equals 100. I took the date that had the highest value of search terms across all the countries considered (19/11/2013) and scaled the price so that it equaled 100 on that day. The price data comes from Bitstamp.
The graph shows that the closure of the silk road, the opening of the Bitcoin ATM machine in Canada and the senate hearings in the USA have marked the three largest events in the Bitcoin space in the past 90 day. The coverage of the Silk road was the largest in the UK in comparison to other countries. The USA coverage of the Canadian exchange is much lower than countries outside USA in comparison to their interest in the senate hearings. It also seems like the story reached Brazil with a one or two day lag. The spikes in India and France that are outside of the general trends probably indicate a large national news story introducing the public to the virtual currency.
The graph also shows how difficult it is to do historical comparisons when the amount of interest is growing rapidly. The silk road, once meant a lot about the price and possibly about the future of Bitcoin has paled into insignificance in the graph. Clearly Bitcoin awareness has dramatically increased since this date.