Analysis: Interest in Cryptocurrencies is “Surprisingly” High

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The ING International Survey reveals how cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, are perceived in 2018 across Europe, the USA and Australia. They define cryptocurrency, in part, as a kind of digital currency not created or secured by the government but by a network of individuals.

News about cryptocurrency has been in the headlines through 2017 and 2018. Bitcoin prices rocketed to $13,860 in December 2017 yet slid back to $6926 by March 2018 − when the responses to their survey were collected.

Buying into a trend

So it’s no surprise that two in three (66%) in Europe have heard of the technology − although higher shares of males (77%) reply that they have heard of cryptocurrency than females (55%). What is a surprise, though, is that younger age brackets − especially people aged 25–34 or 35–44 − are not much more likely to agree they have heard of cryptocurrency than other age groups. Those who already use their smartphone, tablet or wearable to bank “on the go” − the mobile bankers of our survey − are more likely to say they have heard of cryptocurrency (69%) than those who do not bank using their mobile device (59%).

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Fewer than one in 10 in Europe (9%) at the time of the survey indicate owning cryptocurrency — with the smallest fractions in Luxembourg and Belgium. Figures are similar for the USA and Australia. One in four (25%) in Europe indicate they expect to own cryptocurrency at some time in the future — with the share once again slightly higher among mobile bankers (31%).

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Bitcoin as an investment

They find that only about a third (35%) in Europe agree Bitcoin is the future of spending online. A similar share (32%) of respondents agree cryptocurrency is the future of investing. Furthermore, responses to specific questions about whether people would consider investing in cryptocurrency are lukewarm.

Nearly three in 10 (29%) Europeans say they would never invest in cryptocurrency. And many see cryptocurrency as rather risky. For instance, 46% in Europe see shares as less risky than digital currencies such as Bitcoin; 24% say they’re equally risky. This may be part of why cryptocurrencies seem to have less appeal for long-term personal finance activities, such as receiving pay or saving for university, than one-off transactions. A minority in Europe indicate they would consider cryptocurrency as a way to pay for items − like a cup of coffee (23%), international online purchases (30%), or children’s university fees (20%). Interestingly, larger shares in lower per-capita income countries suggest they might consider investing or paying in cryptocurrency.

Future impacts?

When looking for information about investing in cryptocurrency, Europeans are more likely to seek out specialist websites (27%) or financial advisors (21%) than input from friends or family (8%). This may reflect a general feeling that the trend is complicated or hard to understand and therefore requires a specialist. If cryptocurrency eventually goes mainstream, this preference may change.

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