A breach is forming in the floodgates of mass adoption. The institutional herd is already becoming acquainted with Bitcoin and more companies are joining the bandwagon each week. The general public, three years on from all-time high search and media interest, are again paying keen attention, as shown in new data released this week by SatoshiLabs, creators of the Trezor hardware wallet.

Thanks to an independent survey of the American public, commissioned by SatoshiLabs, we have insight into the current state of awareness and understanding of cryptocurrencies within the general population. The survey used third-party data sourced from randomly-chosen participants, not SatoshiLabs’ data; you can read more about the methodology at the end of this article. Over one thousand surveys were taken across the states, with a target demographic of US consumers aged 13 and above, helping assess awareness of cryptocurrencies across ages, genders and political affiliations.

In the following sections, we take a dive into the data and try to contextualize it in terms of adoption, interest and understanding of cryptocurrencies. As the first survey of its type by SatoshiLabs’, it will serve in demonstrating the case for Bitcoin as well as to help anticipate our customers’ needs in the coming years and give a basis of comparison for future studies.

Just over a quarter (27%) are open to acquiring cryptocurrency in the future, while almost half (47.2%) want to learn more before they do. This reflects the ongoing need for education and safe, easy onboarding that companies like SatoshiLabs and open-source communities are working hard to provide. Of those who do not yet own cryptocurrency, just one fifth (21.8%) are not considering investing in crypto, while almost double that amount (40.3%) are open to it, suggesting a very bullish sentiment among the general public.

Opinions on cryptocurrency. Purple bars show responses by crypto holders, blue shows those yet to invest.

It may be that the huge injection of dollars into the economy has warmed the public to the idea of cryptocurrencies. Almost all (95%) of crypto owners are on board with crypto being a genuine currency solution, with 31.7% of them seeing it as a legitimate alternative to dollars and 40% still slightly favoring cash. This legitimacy is agreed on by 36.6% of non-owners, though around half of that group still value cash more highly. Most telling of how far sentiment has risen, perhaps, is that only 4.9% of those who haven’t invested yet feel that crypto is a scam.

It seems that there is very little left to obstruct Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. Educational resources are key to helping people make the jump, and there are many more places to learn nowadays than existed in the previous bull-run. Respondents themselves took a shot at assessing the main obstacles stopping bitcoin from being more widely accepted. The single biggest pain point, receiving two-fifths (37.8%) of the vote, was that Bitcoin is not easy to understand. In second place, at 26.4%, is that people worldwide are simply ignorant to cryptocurrencies’ complexities, while over half (51.8%) felt that it is either too difficult to use or there are too few opportunities to use it. A minority (15.2%) blamed Bitcoin’s marketing department for incompetence.

Taking a look at all respondents, including those who are not invested in cryptocurrency and are therefore more likely to be critical, the prediction for the price of one bitcoin seems far outside the realm of likelihood. The two most popular predictions were a disappointing $100, attracting 23.9% of the vote, and a single dollar, the price which 21% of respondents expect bitcoin to be worth by the end of 2021. Given the new high set just two days ago, only time will tell whether things work out for the minority of responses who predict it to be $100,000 or higher, weighing in at just over one in ten (11.8%) of those surveyed.

On taxation, the overall consensus is split between one-quarter (24.2%) of respondents who believe it is good to tax bitcoin and stricter measures are needed, against a slightly higher number (27.9%) who do not believe in taxing Bitcoin at all. This division of opinion might highlight the need for a more streamlined way to tax Bitcoin, as another quarter of the sample (25.5%) were discouraged from even using Bitcoin because filing a tax report is too complicated.

Regulation is, for many, a mark of acceptance from the economic incumbents, and data shows that many are willing to give up yet more privacy without being put off cryptocurrency altogether. As shown below, just over half (50.1%) of those surveyed would buy cryptocurrency even if it were to become more regulated. Only one in five respondents were decisively against more regulation, while one in three (29.7%) had no opinion on the matter. This last statistic might indicate that, for some, certain regulations could be more acceptable than others.

Responses to the question “Would you buy cryptocurrency if it becomes more regulated?”

This mixed sentiment around regulation may be tipping positive thanks to the influx in institutional investors. Regulations can make it easier for public companies to start holding cryptocurrency reserves, strengthening the currencies’ legitimacy and driving up the price. While some may prefer to revert back to Bitcoin’s lawless beginnings, many more are either unphased by regulation or see it as a beneficial, if not inevitable, step.

Interestingly, almost a quarter of people surveyed (22.9%) stated that they use paper wallets to store their coins, a once-popular but fragile cold-storage solution that many relied on before Trezor invented hardware wallets. A combination of these may suit some investors, but the most convenient secure solution remains the hardware wallet.

Part of what influences each individual’s approach to security is their preferred custody model. While many Bitcoiners are unlikely to settle for anything less than full key custody, newcomers and speculators may simply want exposure to the bitcoin price movements. This appears to be the case shown in the chart below, where over half of responses state they would use Bitcoin if it were accepted by Paypal and Venmo, a statistic supported by PayPal’s recent announcement that almost 20% of its customers had already used PayPal to purchase crypto.

Responses to the question “Would you use bitcoin if PayPal and Venmo accepted it?”

Of course, non-custodial solutions like PayPal and Revolut are not regarded as practical solutions for those who actually want to have ownership over and use their crypto. For a more in-depth look at this topic, please refer to our blog about why you shouldn’t use PayPal for Bitcoin. Do read over it before considering purchasing anything through these platforms.

There is closer overlap on more serious issues. A third of all respondents (33.1%) would consider buying cryptocurrency to protect their money against inflation, while 28.1% would be encouraged to do so based on an economic crisis following the presidential election. Interestingly, given the uncertain transition period in the White House, voters for both Biden and Trump felt equally strongly (28.9% and 29.7% respectively) about buying Bitcoin to offset possible economic instability following the election.

Who should be the face of Bitcoin? Nakamoto’s anonymity has helped Bitcoin earn a name for itself as a decentralized currency not under the influence of any one person, but who do the public feel is most aligned with Bitcoin’s philosophy? From the full sample, Joe Biden beat Bitcoin’s creator as well as his Republican competitor, with 13.9% of the vote, where Trump trailed closely at 10.9%. Nakamoto received a paltry 3.7%, well behind Snoop Dogg, Elon Musk and Bill Gates.

All responses to the question “Who would you want to put on the face of bitcoin?”.

Of the Trump supporters who responded, 27.9% said the ex-president was the best pick to embody Bitcoin. Those who said they would vote for Biden shared their votes between the president-elect at 21.8% and his Democratic predecessor who was in office when Bitcoin was created, Barack Obama, who received a not-insignificant 14.9% support.

One of the main soundbites of Trump’s presidency was “fake news”, claiming that the media are generally dishonest and biased. This is one of the few places where there is a clear divide along party lines visible in the survey data. When asked whether the mainstream media are honest about bitcoin, one in five (21.2%) Trump voters stated that they feel the media don’t understand what they’re talking about when it comes to Bitcoin. In contrast, almost one in three (29.7%) of Biden supporters felt that mainstream media reported fairly about Bitcoin.

The survey questions were designed to find out more about awareness and perceived usefulness of cryptocurrencies among the general American population, while also examining the effects of events such as the presidential election, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Bitcoin bull run. The data diverges from expectations on some key areas, such as bitcoin price predictions, as well as the overall familiarity of the general public with cryptocurrencies. While this data could be seen as a positive indicator of a strong year ahead, it uncovers a large knowledge gap, even among individuals who are already invested in cryptocurrency. As bull fever threatens to take over more cautious investors, it is critical that this gap be addressed and newcomers are welcomed through a trusted, secure gateway, like the Trezor environment provides.

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