Bitcoin, the five-year-old digital currency, is gaining mass traction as bitcoin companies receive hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, but the majority of the American public remains highly uninformed of the benefits and uses of bitcoin and have heard little to nothing about it.
In a new survey published today, almost 2,000 American voters were asked of their opinion on a range of financial questions, including bitcoin, during the end of May and the beginning of June. The results show a wide gap between the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the religious as opposed to the non-religious, and a gender difference between males and females. The younger, richer, the less religious and the more male you are, the more likely you are to know about bitcoin, be permissive towards allowing it for use in commerce and to use or to have used the currency.
The Generations Gap
As one would expect, younger individuals are highly enthusiastic about bitcoin, especially when compared to the older population. 55% of 18 to 29-year-olds know some or a lot about bitcoin, as opposed to 62% of 30 to 45 year old who know little to nothing. The lack of knowledge increases slightly for individuals older than 45, with 66% of those age 45 to 65 and 73% of individuals older than 65 knowing nothing or very little about the online currency.
This lack of knowledge highlights the need for more education in all age groups, especially for the older generations, as it seems to have led to concerning attitudes towards using bitcoins for commerce. The young, 58%, and the middle age group, 54%, show overwhelming support for allowing the purchase of goods and services with the digital currency. The older age groups have the opposite attitude with 64% of 45-65-year-old and a staggering 73% of individuals older than 65 stating that they were against voluntary transactions in goods and services if the means of exchange is bitcoins.
The Rich and Poor, The Religious and the Atheists, the Male and the Female
The higher the income and wealth, the more likely you are to know about bitcoin with 51% of earners of 100,000 dollars and more knowing some or a lot about the currency, as opposed to only 29% of individuals earning 50,000 or less. Perplexingly, this greater knowledge does not translate into highly permissive attitudes, as, although the high-income earners are slightly more in favor than the other income groups towards allowing commerce with bitcoins, the majority, 55%, are against it.
Non-religious individuals, 48%, know some or a lot about bitcoin, as opposed to 35% of religious individuals, corresponding to a 50-50 split on whether the government should allow or prohibit transactions in bitcoins for the non-religious individuals as opposed to 63% of protestants and 58% of Roman Catholics who are against the purchase of goods and services with bitcoins.
The same attitudes are expressed by females as opposed to males, with only 27% of females knowing some or a lot about bitcoin as opposed to 48% of males and 62% of females being in favor of banning bitcoin commerce as opposed to 53% of males.
The Need for Education
There seems to be a strong correlation between individuals who state that they know some or a lot about bitcoin and their permissive attitude towards the purchasing of goods and services with bitcoin. The more they know about bitcoin, the more likely they are to be in favor of allowing it for the purchase of goods and services and the more likely to have used it or currently use the currency.
The effects of education on attitudes towards bitcoin highlights the importance of informing and educating the public on the nature and advantages of bitcoin and the need to counteract misconceptions or misinformation about the currency. The greatest misconception may be that bitcoin is pervasively used for illegal activities. Studies however show that the dollar remains the currency of choice, far surpassing bitcoin, to purchase and sell controlled substances and other illegal goods or services. The general public needs to be informed that purchases from Silk Road amount to an almost insignificant 0.25% of the total global money-laundering and other illegal activities, accounting for only 1 billion dollars out of a 500 billion to 1 trillion market and that bitcoin has far greater and legal uses than purchasing goods or services on Silk Road.
Thankfully, merchant adoption and investment in bitcoin is increasing at a fast pace with celebrities and industry leaders in Silicon Valley and beyond adopting and promoting the currency. As such, it may be only a matter of time before the misconceptions are addressed, leading to an attitude change as the public is informed and accustomed to, what many call, the greatest technological innovation since the internet.
Source: Morning Consult