65% of Americans Have No Idea What Bitcoin Is, Coin Center’s New Survey Reports

Most Americans have no idea what Bitcoin is, according to the recent survey from Bitcoin organization Coin Center.

Photo: Tayla Lyell/Flickr

Photo: Tayla Lyell/Flickr

Yesterday Coin Center, a public policy organisation dealing with digital currency research and advocacy, released data from a five-month Coin Center Bitcoin Public Sentiment Survey, revealing how well the American people know and understand bitcoin.

It turned out that 65% of respondents call themselves “not familiar at all” with Bitcoin. This seems low, taking into account all the media attention the digital currrency has. But there is no reason here to minimize how well-known it is. That is the first study that attempts to measure the attitudes of the American public towards Bitcoin in an impartial and objective way.

“It is clear that there is more work to be done. Public policy generally reflects public sentiment on a subject. That’s why such a profound lack of familiarity is particularly alarming. It’s also an opportunity, however. What we see is a large gap in public understanding of Bitcoin, and part of our mission is to help close this gap so that any policy decisions made with respect to Bitcoin are well informed, good for competition, economic growth, and technological innovation,” was written in a blog post.

The poll was also divided in such a way: the government should “ban Bitcoin or leave it alone.” The result is that 12.9% respondents were down with banning something that probably some of them had never heard of, while 16.1% hoped that the government would not interfere.

When polled about whether bitcoin is used for immoral reasons like crime, fraud or good reasons, like investing, legitimate payments, some believed that it was for good, more people tend to think that it was for negative reasons.

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

Coin Center used Google Consumer Surveys, which many have seen when they are prompted to answer a question instead of reading an article. In a New York Times article, this method of polling was the second most accurate in predicting the result of the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

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

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