A new study suggests that many consumers remain cautious about the prospect of purchasing or using digital currency.
The report was written by the Massachusetts Division of Banks (MDB) in conjunction with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), who canvassed more than 1,000 consumers with an online survey that focused on digital currency.
The CSBS, which is a national organization of bank regulators, previously held a hearing on the topic of digital currency in May.
The survey data shows that while a slim majority of respondents (51%) have heard of digital currency, 65% stated that they are “unlikely” to ever buy or use a technology like bitcoin.
Eighteen percent of participants indicated that they were “likely” or “very likely” to use a digital currency, and only 3% of those who had heard of bitcoin said they had actually bought some.
According to the CSBS, the Emerging Payments Task Force – the organization’s working group that focuses, in part, on bitcoin – will use the data as it continues to develop its policies for digital currency.
In a statement, the chairman of the task force and Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks David Cotney said that the study fits into the broader research phase currently taking place.
“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.”
Fears regarding security and regulation, as well as concerns regarding the lack of consumer protections afforded in the traditional financial system, were highlighted in the study.
Sixty-one percent said that the overall security of their bitcoins would factor significantly into whether or not they used or purchased some, while 43% of study participants stated that bitcoin’s tax status would be a major factor. Forty-eight percent reported that concerns of insurance might stop them from buying bitcoin.
The report highlighted answers from roughly 350 participants who gave additional comments on the topic of digital currency. Twenty-five percent suggested that, because of their concerns, they would never buy bitcoin. The overall safety of the process was questioned by 13% of respondents, while 14% suggested that they didn’t know how digital currency might be used.
Age and affluence a factor
The data also highlighted how knowledge and perception of digital currency breaks down by age demographics. Overall, younger respondents expressed far greater levels of enthusiasm for bitcoin than older participants.
Forty-three percent of those in the 18–24 age bracket stated that they were “likely” or “very likely” to purchase or use digital currency. Only 8% of those over the age of 55 shared that sentiment, and 75% of respondents who were at least 65 years old said they would most likely not use or buy bitcoin.
The MDB report also showed that affluence has played a role in how consumers learn about digital currency. In the study group, 70% of those who made more than $100,000 annually had heard of bitcoin, while 43% of respondents from lower-income households said they knew about or had used digital currency.
The study also noted that those who had graduated from college were more likely to know about bitcoin compared to those with a high school diploma or lower qualification.