In today’s technological world, it’s pretty difficult to not hear or read about bitcoin on a daily basis. Although the ubiquity of the digital currency is pretty widespread, there will always be people who don’t know about it. Nevertheless, the people who do understand what the virtual currency is are distrustful.
According to a new Harris Interactive online survey conducted for Yodlee, a Redwood City, California-based software company less than half (48 percent) of American adults understand what bitcoin is and a majority of these individuals do not trust it enough to invest their money in it.
Despite the value of bitcoin gaining steam over the past year and remaining steady at around the $600 mark, Americans are unsure about its reliability as well as its usefulness as an alternative currency. This is why people are still investing in gold: only 13 percent of respondents said they’d opt for bitcoin instead of the yellow metal.
As previous studies have highlighted, younger adults are more supportive of bitcoin than their older counterparts: one-fifth of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 would choose the virtual currency instead of gold.
Men were also more aware of bitcoin than women (63 percent vs. 35 percent). In addition, the northeast region of the United States is the biggest proponent of the virtual currency, but again less than one-fifth would choose it over gold.
“The financial industry benefits greatly from disruptive technology, but security is unfortunately a bigger challenge than some new financial innovators expect.” Tim O’Brien, Yodlee’s senior vice president of operations and information security, said in statement. “Bitcoin has addressed some major opportunities in the financial system, but the vulnerability of some Bitcoin exchanges, along with the currency’s overall volatility, are still serious issues.”
When it comes to government regulation, a significant number were unsure if the government should regulate bitcoin (45 percent). However, for those who already had an opinion on the matter, it was nearly split: 44 percent said the government should regulate bitcoin, while 56 percent opposed the government intervening into the bitcoin economy.
“Bitcoin will be hard for consumers to understand and trust on a large scale until secure, user-friendly tools and services emerge to make it as convenient and safe as possible to use,” O’Brien added.
These findings are similar to previous studies tapping the opinions of average Americans on bitcoin. More individuals are aware of bitcoin, but it’s likely that the reason they distrust it is because of the numerous reports of virtual heists, bitcoin exchanges shutting down and government officials not being supportive enough of it.
The positive for bitcoiners is the fact that people are beginning to educate themselves on cryptocurrency. With a bit of hard work, more communication and stability, perhaps a poll next year at this time will reveal a majority of Americans support bitcoin and think it’s a better investment tool than precious metals.
At the time of this writing, bitcoin is trading at around $590.