Over 25% of Americans think cryptocurrencies are mainly used for illegal activities
Interest in cryptocurrencies and the technology which underpins its success has grown tremendously, signified by the astronomical rise of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which has seen its value rocket from a mere $0.08 (€0.07) in 2010 to above $6,000 (€5087.12) over the course of this year.
When assessing the core competencies behind cryptocurrencies, it’s easy to understand why they have become a real disruptive innovation in the face of the structured and established financial system we have all come to know. Cryptocurrencies have the pioneering potential to act as a global payment system which everyone can access any time and place without being restricted by traditional barriers such as having a credit history or bank account.
Despite their prospective capabilities, cryptocurrencies have been associated with numerous controversies. Most recently, statistics by anti-virus provider Kaspersky Lab showed that they had so far detected 1.65 million computers in 2017 infected by malware which has installed mining software (the process by which a given cryptocurrency is generated to create new funds and accumulate favourable a profit) without the permission or knowledge of the users/owners.
Even in all their glory, cryptocurrencies have also closely been aligned to unscrupulous individuals and groups looking to avoid detection from engaging in criminal/illegal activities. This can be highlighted by the large-scale WannaCry outbreak, where ransom payments were demanded in Bitcoin after thousands of computer systems across the world were locked down by malicious ransomware.
Interested in what the public think of cryptocurrencies, Turnerlittle.com analysed findings from YouGov, who surveyed over 1000 American adults (18+), to identify their attitudes towards the phenomena of cryptocurrencies.
The research intriguingly revealed that 66% of Americans have heard of bitcoin but just 13% of them have used it. Etherium, the next biggest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, was far less known -with only 24% of Americans having heard of it. Out of those aware of Etherium, 21% said they had used it before.
With respect to what Americans thought people used cryptocurrencies for, the majority seemed unsure or unaware, as 40% stated they “don’t know”. Interestingly though, 29% of Americans did think people used cryptocurrencies mainly for “purchasing illegal goods/services through the dark web”. Further on, when asked if they would be interested in using a cryptocurrency instead of US dollars, an overwhelming 64% of Americans said they would not be interested in making the switch.
Looking into the future, 35% of Americans do believe there will be a wider acceptance of cryptocurrencies as a mean of transaction in the next 10 years. Though, 28% don’t consider this to be the case and 37% simply have no idea. Moreover, 51% of Americans don’t think cryptocurrencies in the next 10 years will replace traditional currency. A minority of 18% contrastingly felt the opposite, with the view that cryptocurrencies will put traditional currency into extinction.
Nathan Kirkwood, a financial analyst commented, “The emergence of cryptocurrencies has been nothing short of extraordinary. With the current value of established cryptocurrencies surging and with many more emerging, they are certainly here to stay. What’s truly going to be interesting is how cryptocurrencies evolve as they become more and more prominent. Looking ahead, if they have greater transparency and do not become subject to aggressive regulations, they have the characteristics and desirability to be adopted by a wider array of stakeholders including well-known merchants and mass consumers”.
James Turner, the managing director of Turnerlittle.com commented,“The findings from this research are fascinating. I think what can be taken from this research is that Americans have not yet fully grasped the full functionally of cryptocurrencies as a digital entity. It’s through no fault of their own, cryptocurrencies are only at their infancy and as they advance in their development, people will certainly have a far greater understanding of not only the multiple ways in which they work and can be used but their likely role as an alternative monetary system”.