In a national survey conducted by the Massachusetts Division of Banks in collaboration with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) in May of this year, it was found that many consumers are aware of virtual currencies like bitcoin, but express concern about using or interacting with them.
The survey, which polled 1,000 consumers, came to the following points:
- 51% of those polled have heard of virtual currency, with awareness varied by race, gender, income, and education level.
- Respondents with higher incomes or higher education levels were 60-80% more likely to know about virtual currency than lower income and less educated respondents.
- Not surprisingly, men were more likely to know about virtual currency than women.
The study found that an overwhelming amount of respondents had learned about virtual currency from the internet and television. This is in comparison to how consumers have learned about other financial tools and products: from banks and credit unions.
- Despite virtual currency awareness, a limited number of respondents were willing to buy or use it.
- Just 3% of those polled have previously purchased or used bitcoin.
- Younger people were more likely to have previously purchase bitcoin, or another virtual currency.
- Hispanic and African American respondents said they would be more willing to purchase virtual currency than White consumers.
All in all, about 65% of all respondents said they were unlikely to ever purchase or interact with virtual currencies.
Those with attitudes about virtual currencies said they might be influenced by concerns over whether these digital forms of money are secure, insured, and regulated.
The goal of the survey was to better understand public awareness of virtual currencies, and their corresponding attitudes.
“State regulators welcome innovations that lead to greater choice and lower costs, but we also want to understand any consumer and marketplace risks as we evaluate the overall benefits of virtual currencies,” said David J. Cotney, Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks and Chair of the Task Force.
“We welcome the work of the task force as consumers need reliable and credible information about the potential impacts virtual currency may offer,” added Massachusetts Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs Barbara Anthony.