A bitcoin survey carried out by the Canadian central bank has revealed that though people in the North American country are increasingly aware of bitcoin and cryptocurrency, they aren’t using it.
The survey of 2,500 people in Canada, catchily named the Bitcoin Omnibus Survey, was carried out during peak bitcoin-mania at the end of last year — when the bitcoin price spiked to an eye-watering $19,000 before falling sharply back at the beginning of 2018.
The Bank of Canada found, despite the large price increase throughout last year, the number of people in Canada who held bitcoin rose from 2.9% in late 2016, to 5% in late 2017 — a rise of just 2.1 percentage points.
Though there was only a small uptick in the number of people in Canada holding bitcoin, awareness has risen rapidly — and if it continues at its current pace, awareness will reach 100% in less than a year.
Some 85% of people in Canada were aware of bitcoin at the end of last year, up from 64% in late 2016.
“In terms of changes over time, Quebec saw the largest increase in awareness, as it rose from 49% in 2016 to 77% in 2017,” the report authors wrote. “Awareness among women rose to 80% in 2017, an increase of 26 percentage points. Awareness also increased across all age groups, from 62% to 68% in 2016 to 83% to 89% in 2017. In general, demographic trends in awareness remained consistent across years. For example, males were noticeably more aware than females (91% vs. 80% in 2017; 75% vs. 54% in 2016).”
Worryingly though, the biggest reason that people were holding bitcoin shifted significantly over the year.
While in 2016 the biggest reason people said they held bitcoin was transactional (39%), this was dwarfed in 2017 by investment purposes — with 58% of last year people holding bitcoin in the hope the price will rise, up from 12% the year before.
People in Canada mainly holding bitcoin to make transactions sunk to just 10% in 2017.
Many have argued that for bitcoin and other digital currencies to achieve mass adoption it is important that those holding cryptocurrency use them to buy goods and services, not just sit on them as an investment.
Elsewhere, the survey showed the public’s understanding of bitcoin and cryptocurrency improved. The proportion of people in Canada that thought bitcoin was “government-backed” dropped around 40 percentage points from the year before.
Bitcoin Bears Are Back…
Meanwhile, the bitcoin price has taken a tumble in the last few hours, with fears around the health of a relatively minor cryptocurrency exchange likely to be the cause of the sell-off.
Last night it was reported bitcoin prices at the Singapore-based Wex exchange spiked to over $9,000 (compared to just over $6,000 on the biggest exchanges), with some users complaining withdrawals from the exchange weren’t completing (though this hasn’t been confirmed).
Wex, which boasts some 1.3 million users and claims to handle $44 million in trade volume each day, is a rebranded version of now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, which was shut down by US regulators last July in connection with an international investigation into a multi-billion dollar bitcoin money laundering operation.
This story originally appeared in Forbes. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.