23 Jul 2023

Asia employs 35% of the global crypto workforce

Multiple hubs, major domestic exchanges and a flourishing labor market.

Singapore and Hong Kong are crypto hubs in Asia

The two most populous countries dominate crypto employment in Asia. However, under the hood, Asia flourishes with uniqueness, with several countries seeing substantial employment within national exchanges and three distinct highly influential hubs facilitating infrastructure for the global crypto market.
India has overtaken China to become the largest crypto employer in Asia. The thriving Indian crypto job market is enabled by major Indian-domiciled crypto exchanges, in addition to a substantial Indian presence in most of the major crypto companies globally. India is the second most common origin country for companies registered in the U.S. and the fourth most common origin country in the U.K., with Indian employment tending to relate to developer jobs. We find India as the largest within Asia and the third largest country in the world measured by employment. India is the house of major Indian-domiciled exchanges CoinSwitch and CoinDCX, in addition to Polygon. Further, India tends to score very high on developer-related jobs, with many crypto companies hiring Indian developers motivated by lower salary requirements and strong competence. China is the second biggest crypto employer in Asia, despite the longstanding hostile stance on the industry from the Chinese government. China was definitely a cornerstone region for the crypto industry in its infancy. The advanced financial infrastructure and vast derivatives market in crypto have deep roots from China. There is no understatement to acknowledge that OKX and Huobi both enhanced the market integrity and utilization of futures instruments in the early-stage bitcoin derivatives market. Further, China was long by far the biggest Bitcoin miner, representing 53% of the BTC hashrate as late as December 2020, backed by large industrial miners and Bitmain pushing the pendulum in terms of optimizing mining equipment. In later years, the Chinese government has enforced strict policies against crypto miners and crypto exchanges, leading companies with Chinese origins to flag out from the region. Nonetheless, while headquarters have changed, the competence built throughout the 2010s has led to a long-lasting competitive Chinese workforce. Companies flagged out but core employees of Chinese origin remained, with their experience representing valuable assets, in particular for companies primarily based in the APAC. Out of all employment numbers distributed in this report, Chinese workforce numbers are the most uncertain. Mapping out Chinese activity in crypto is notoriously challenging, in particular following the Chinese crackdown on the industry. We’ve had a conservative approach in estimating the Chinese employment numbers, and Chinese employment dominance could be an underestimation.Several Chinese companies flagged out to the Seychelles and Cayman Islands following the Chinese crackdown, but a healthy share of crypto companies also migrated to Singapore and Hong Kong in the aftermath. Singapore and Hong Kong are important hubs for the global crypto industry, particularly in the APACs. Singapore benefits from clear regulation, a strong presence in the global financial markets, and low taxes. Hong Kong has seen more regulatory uncertainty, but benefits from both taxes, relevancy in financial markets, and close ties to mainland China have made the region a suitable hub for crypto companies.
Companies in both regions are highly influential in the global crypto economy, as both states share the characteristic that they are global open hubs with citizens from all across the globe. The UAE has also seen similar tendencies in recent years. A common observation from companies registered in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the UAE is the global nature of their employee base. Unlike most other countries in this report, Singaporean employment tends to be globally distributed as remote work and regional offices are common.
Another important observation from the APAC countries is the dominating role of domestic exchanges. Major domestic exchanges contribute substantially to domestic employment as these exchanges service significant volumes in markets either affiliated with restrictive capital flows, such as South Korea and Japan, or within less commonly traded fiat pairs such as the Bhat and Philippine Peso. In India, CoinDCX and CoinSwitch Kuber both claim that they service +10m customers, and both companies have headcounts surpassing 500 employees. Bitkub, Thailand’s biggest crypto exchange, serves 4.2 million users, while Indodax in Indonesia claims to have more than 5 million registered users. In South Korea, Bithumb services some 6.5 million users, while Upbit users totaled 8.9 million users. Bitflyer in Japan services some 3 million users, while in the Philippines claims to service a staggering 16 million users. The adoption of domestic exchanges in these regions leads all these exchanges to represent a key source of crypto employment in the above-mentioned countries. We also note similar traits elsewhere in the world, most notably in Turkey with BTCTurk and in Brazil with Mercado Bitcoin.This is a subsection from our recent in-depth report covering the global crypto labor market. Find the full report here.
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