73% of UK consumers ‘don’t know what cryptocurrency is’

73% of UK consumers ‘don’t know what cryptocurrency is’

Almost three-quarters of consumers don’t know or can’t describe what a cryptocurrency is, according to a new survey published by the UK’s chief financial regulator.

The survey, conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), found as many as 73% of consumers were uncertain of what a cryptocurrency was or could not accurately define it. Those who could define cryptocurrency were typically men between 20 and 44 years old.

Conducted over a sample of 2,132 consumers by market research firm Kantar TNS, the study found a mere 3% had previous experience of buying cryptocurrency.

The figures show crypto assets still have some way to go to reach the financial mainstream, with consumers in general unfamiliar with what they are, how they work and how to transact in cryptocurrencies.

However, the study also shows the majority of consumers are not yet using cryptocurrencies for purchases, which is positively correlated with a greater understanding of the technology.

Executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, Christopher Woolard, said the research delivers important insights into how consumers are engaging with crypto assets at the moment.

He explained, “This research gives us evidence we haven’t had before about how consumers interact with crypto assets. This will help us ensure we are acting on evidence as we seek to protect consumers and market integrity. The results suggest that although crypto assets may not be well understood by many consumers, the vast majority don’t buy or use them currently.”

Acknowledging some investors and crypto users have lost money, Woolard said the “current scale of harm” was not as significant as previously anticipated.

“Whilst the research suggests some harm to individual crypto asset users, it does not suggest a large impact on wider society. Nevertheless, crypto assets are complex, volatile products—consumers investing in them should be prepared to lose all of their money,” he noted, adding, “Despite this lack of understanding, the crypto asset owners interviewed were often looking for ways to ‘get rich quick’, citing friends, acquaintances and social media influencers as key motivations for buying crypto assets.”

Still, Woolard reiterated crypto assets could be risky products, suggesting users should “be prepared to lose all of their money.”

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