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Bitcoin Ownership in Canada is Up 72 Percent Since 2016, Says Central Bank

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:09 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:09 PM

Bitcoin ownership in Canada increased by 72 percent from 2016 to 2017, a survey conducted by the country’s central bank has found.

The newly-published update to the 2017 Bitcoin Omnibus Survey  (BTCOS), conducted by the Bank of Canada last Dec. 12 to Dec. 15, indicates that five percent of Canadians own bitcoin, up from 2.9 percent when the central bank conducted a similar poll in Nov. 2016. Though minor in absolute terms, it nevertheless represents a 72 percent relative increase in just a little more than a calendar year, a testament to the degree to which cryptocurrency captured the imaginations of investors during the 2017 bull market.

Unsurprisingly, this increase in ownership was accompanied by a shift in the primary reason that Canadian bitcoin owners chose to purchase the asset. At the time of the Nov. 2016 survey, a plurality of Canadians (39 percent) said that they held BTC for transactional purchases, such as making payments or sending money to other people. By the height of the bull market in mid-Dec. 2017 — when, incidentally, bitcoin transaction fees had ballooned to what many argued were unsustainable levels — 58 percent of BTC owners said that they were holding the asset for investment purposes.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) also seems to have played a role in bitcoin ownership, at least during the fevered market of Q4 2017. TO wit, 12 percent of respondents said that their primary reason for purchasing BTC was that “My friends own Bitcoin.”

But while ownership remains relatively low, the survey also shows that bitcoin has successfully achieved brand saturation in the Great White North. The BTCOS survey found that 85 percent of Canadian residents are aware of bitcoin, up from 64 percent the year prior.

This increase in awareness may partly stem from the fact that the country has emerged as a major hub for cryptocurrency mining in the Western hemisphere, primarily due to an abundance of surplus electricity, cooler average temperatures, and affordable energy rates.

It’s not immediately clear when the Bank of Canada plans to do another follow-up survey on bitcoin awareness, but, whenever it does, it will be interesting to see whether the recent bear market leads to a significant decrease in cryptoasset ownership.

As CCN.com reported, another recent survey found that 40 percent of cryptocurrency investors in Ontario — Canada’s most populous province — have already liquidated their entire cryptoasset stakes, perhaps suggesting the cryptocurrency ownership is ebbing back towards its 2016 level.