SSRN 2018 Research Year in Review: blockchain and bitcoin fastest growing research topics, outstripping big data and fake news

Leading early stage research platform shines light on top research trends of 2018

New York, December 18, 2018

New analysis from SSRN, Elsevier’s world-leading preprint server and early stage research platform, reveals financial technology, or fintech, is the fastest growing area of research on the platform.

Data shows blockchain and cryptocurrency related topics are currently the most popular papers on SSRN. Bitcoin, blockchain, cryptocurrencies and initial coin offering (ICO) received over half-a-million paper downloads in the past two years.[1]

With more researchers than ever before looking for emerging research on these new technologies, fintech related pre-prints and early stage research papers have received over 660,000 paper downloads in the past two years on SSRN. This far outstrips other emerging research topics on the platform like big data (under 160,000 papers downloaded) and fake news (under 50,000 papers downloaded) in the same time-period.

Researchers based in North America led the way for fintech research in 2018, accounting for 43 percent of the 1,468 related papers uploaded to the site. European researchers uploaded the most blockchain related papers, with 45 percent of the 653 papers on this topic. North American researchers also took the lead over Europe in cryptocurrency related research, accounting for 50 percent of all ICO papers, compared to 40 percent in Europe.

Asian-based researchers lagged behind both North America and Europe on all three fintech related topics. 8.1 percent of blockchain research originated from Asia, with 1.2 percent from China, receiving over 20,000 downloads in the past two years. Similarly, Asian cryptocurrency research accounted for only 9.8 percent of all papers on this topic, with only 1 percent of these papers being produced by Chinese researchers.

“Looking back at the research environment in 2018, we have seen that fintech research is in a league of its own: no other areas of research have matched the rapid growth of topics like bitcoin and blockchain,” said Gregg Gordon, Managing Director, SSRN. “This explosion in research has coincided with the much-anticipated implementation of the MiFID II regulations which could explain this rise.

“Interestingly, much of the research that originates from China focuses on the regulation of these technologies. Given that ICOs do not take place in China, this is not surprising.”

The most popular fintech related paper on SSRN is ‘Some Simple Economics of the Blockchain’ that has been downloaded more than 23,000 times since it was uploaded in November 2016.[2] A dedicated page has been created on SSRN for the Top 10 most downloaded fintech related papers, which are free to read and download.


Notes for editors
[1] Source: This research was conducted in August and analyzed download data from August 2016-August 2018 and search data from March 6 - August 21, 2018.

[2] Suggested Citation: Catalini, Christian and Gans, Joshua S., Some Simple Economics of the Blockchain (September 21, 2017). Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 2874598; MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 5191-16.

A preprint is the author’s own write-up of research results and analysis that has not been peer-reviewed, nor had any value added to it by a publisher (such as formatting, copy-editing, technical enhancements).

A preprint server like SSRN, or working paper repository as they are also known, allows users to share these documents.

Interviews with Gregg Gordon, Managing Director of SSRN, are available on request.

About SSRN
SSRN is a worldwide collaborative of over 350,000 authors and more than 2.2 million users that is devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of research. Founded in 1994, it is now composed of a number of specialized research networks. Each of SSRN's networks encourages the early distribution of research results by reviewing and distributing submitted abstracts and full text papers from scholars around the world. SSRN encourages readers to communicate directly with other subscribers and authors concerning their own and other's research. Through email abstract eJournals SSRN currently reaches over 400,000 people in approximately 140 different countries.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps scientists and clinicians to find new answers, reshape human knowledge, and tackle the most urgent human crises. For 140 years, we have partnered with the research world to curate and verify scientific knowledge. Today, we’re committed to bringing that rigor to a new generation of platforms. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, 39,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.

Media contact
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