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.

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% of the 653 papers on this topic. North American researchers 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 both North America and Europe on all three fintech related topics. 8.1% 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.