Crypto use in emerging markets driven by necessity: KuCoin Labs head


The proliferation of cryptocurrencies around the world has been driven by different use-cases, with key differences becoming apparent between developed and emerging market environments.

Lou Yu, who heads up KuCoin Labs, tackled the subject after a keynote address during the second day of Blockchain Economy Istanbul in Turkey. In an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph, Yu unpacked her experience working with a variety of projects and companies around the world and the key differences between primary and secondary markets.

Cointelegraph editor Erhan Karahman interviews KuCoin Labs head Lou Yu at Blockchain Economy Istanbul.

Kucoin operates in over 200 countries globally and is well placed to provide insights into the trading habits and trends as well as the innovations in the space, given that it lists, invests and supports various cryptocurrency and blockchain-focused projects.


Yu noted that trading communities are particularly active in emerging markets, more so than their developed counterparts, which are less active despite superior amounts of capital. While these emerging markets use cryptocurrencies frequently, projects from these areas could do better to aim their services at local markets:

“We’re seeing all the data here from secondary markets and we think it is more relevant for local projects to benefit the local economy, and not just take products to the United States to benefit traders there for example.”

The potential for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to tackle unique challenges in emerging markets has been a theme at Blockchain Economy Istanbul and Yu also believes that industry-shaping projects could well emerge from developing countries.

Related: 75% of investors in emerging markets want more crypto: Survey

The KuCoin Labs head highlighted the propensity for developed markets like Europe and the United States to use blockchain primarily for cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, emerging markets are using the technology not only to use and trade cryptocurrencies but to build tools and products to solve vexing problems:

“For developed markets it’s a hobby, for emerging markets it’s a necessity. In emerging countries, people are lacking a lot of tools and infrastructure and are probably limited by language barriers, political, geographical, technological and economic barriers.”

Yu said that emerging countries are more in need of the fundamental infrastructure in Web3 to solve problems that Web2 hasn’t y. She also noted that much of the KuCoin Labs portfolio is made up of projects from developed countries. The projects that do hail from emerging countries don’t focus on offering their product or services to their local market, instead focusing on addressing and serving the wider cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Yu stressed that the incubator has been focused on connecting the ecosystem by working with other exchanges, launchpads as well as layer-1 and layer2 protocols. Financial investment in projects from emerging markets is a focal point, alongside networking and building potential business partnerships.

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