What Do Americans Really Think About Bitcoin? New Survey Tells All

By Jacob Cohen Donnelly Jan 27, 2015 9:49 AM EDT

NEW YORK (InsideBitcoins) — Things take time to catch on for people. Bitcoin is no different. The vast majority of Americans have no idea what bitcoin is, what it can do, or the potential of it. And for the first time, there’s quantifiable data to support that statement.

Coin Center, a non-profit research and advocacy group, has released data from a five-month survey revealing just how well the American people know and understand bitcoin. And the results are not all that surprising.

Fully 65% of people polled were not at all familiar with bitcoin. Of those that were even a slightly bit familiar, 80% had never used it before.

Most surveys are difficult to conduct because there’s always bias or poor scientific reporting. Coin Center used Google Consumer Surveys, which many have seen when they are prompted to answer a question in exchange for reading an article. In a New York Times article, this method of polling was the second most accurate in predicting the outcome of the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

“There has never been a definitive benchmark for public understanding of Bitcoin,” said Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center, in a statement released with the study. “This survey demonstrates that there’s much to be done to build an understanding of Bitcoin.”

When polled about whether bitcoin is used for nefarious reasons: crime, fraud, etc. — or good reasons: investing, legitimate payments, and the like — the general population leaned toward the illicit side. While some did believe that it was for good, more people were inclined to believe it was for negative reasons. Even then, the bulk of people were right in the middle, likely undecided.

“Public policy reflects public attitudes on a subject,” said Peter Van Valkenburgh, Coin Center’s director of research. “What we see is a large gap in public understanding.”

While there was a bias towards the belief that bitcoin was primary used for illicit purposes, more people thought that government should leave bitcoin alone rather than ban it. And, like the previous question, the bulk of people were right in the middle on this question.

It’s clear that bitcoin has a long way to go to build its brand and to demonstrate utility. But that does beg the question: does a lack of understanding mean that it won’t gain usage? Or, asked in another way: even if 80% of people say they never use bitcoin, will there come a point where they use it without realizing it?

Very few people can tell you what TCP/IP or even what HTTP is, but tell someone to go to the Internet, find a cute kitty gif and email it to a friend — they’ll do it in a heartbeat.

Photo credit: B Tal

  • lakawak

    The last line is pathetic even for desperate bitcoin losers. IT is nothing like using the internet even though you don’t understand it. There is no alternative to the internet, let alone a better one. Whereas there is a much better alternative to bitcoin. Money.

    The sooner all bitcoin bloggers kill themselves, the sooner their families can finally have peace. That day Is coming..and has come already for some. But not fast enough.

  • Renioctib

    What do Americans really think about Bitcoin? DR: No-one really knows. This survey is as stupid as most surveys are. Without the total number of respondents known, 65% can mean as little as 65 people. There is no quantifiable data here.

    Survey: Gaggle randomly asks 100 Aussies who are online and reading random shit if they know about Bitcoin. 65 of them say huh? And from that, BS headlines are created “The vast majority (65%!!!!) of Aussies have no idea what BTC is”.

    And this is how articles get away with such BS reporting. Use your F’ing brain.

  • oliver83

    Bitcoin’s tech is the revolution. I also think that P2P lending with cryptocurrencies is going to be a game changer. It is becoming more and more common nowadays. We can even mention many businesses that already exist around bitcoin. On http://www.bitbond.com for example you can lend money internationally which was very difficult for individuals before bitcoin existed. It also allows to earn higher interest rates than what your bank pays and that was the most appealing argument for me to start using the platform 😉

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