We’ve all heard of Bitcoin evangelism, but is it to be heard everywhere like in the states? The UK has so far been silent – until now.
The British public has spoken, according to a survey released by YouGov
, a UK-based the market research firm, which asked 2052 people about their opinions of Bitcoin.
Perhaps the one of the gloomier statistics to come from the research is that 71% of consumers “do not want” the option to pay with virtual currency. And of those who did want it, the main reason was fairness rather than interest, respondents saying that all valid currencies should be made available as payment methods.
Stories in the news featuring Mt. Gox succumb to hacking, price volatility and government backlashes against crypto-currencies can no doubt have contributed to UK consumers’ wary stance on Bitcoin.
Some of the more revolutionary aspects of Bitcoin, however, seemed to win over the public’s imagination nonetheless. 6% of those asked said they were attracted to the anonymity of using BTC, while 5% liked the idea of simply no longer needing to carry cash, making a total of 11% of participants positively inclined towards Bitcoin.
The use of credit cards in the UK is heavy, but the appeal of Bitcoin’s lower payment processing fees seems not yet to have made an impression among consumers. As knowledge of the currency spreads, however, this situation could well change, as many businesses such as smaller shops and pubs in the UK must charge substantial fees for credit card payments to cover costs, or refuse to accept card payments altogether below a certain amount.
Is the tide turning?
It is strange, though, that opinion should be so divided here compared with other first-world economies such as the US, which not only hosts the majority of crypto-currency community-related activity but is also experimenting with official dialogue between its major players and the IMF and government.
The underlying cause could well be lack of information. According to the survey, 49% of women and 36% of men knew nothing about Bitcoin.
As authorities eye the situation in the US, a positive outcome there could well be the catalyst to support an embracing of crypto-currencies the other side of the Atlantic in years to come.
Expert's opinion from Filip Roose “I would think it is already becoming more positive. Even though it is not yet enough to become big right now, I am surprised to see that so many people already like it. Actually, if almost half of them hadn't ever heard of it, you could almost say that the 5% who would like to use it, are almost 10%. I'm feeling positive” Expert's opinion from Rik Willard, Co-Founder and CEO of MintCombine “If I were to guess I'd say that the UK has always been resistant to new currencies - take the euro as an example. However because of their proximity to Europe they are used to exchanging currencies on the fly. Bitcoin is not a stretch from a conversion standpoint. The more education you see there, the more adoption they'll get. At 50% education you're saying they have 5% adoption – that's 10% post-education penetration. Much more than the US.” Expert's opinion from Marshall Hayner "In America I think it's something like 3 out of 4 people have heard of Bitcoin as of February. I think a big reason for this is you have more international travel in Europe, as countries and borders are smaller. Bitcoin is an amazing tool for international travel, especially wherever the Euro is used."
Expert's opinion from John O’Mara “This article reads more pessimistically than the situation in my eyes, it’s taken a long time, but over the 3 years of my involvement with Bitcoin the situation has slowly but dramatically improved. My first orders placed with Bitcoin all came from the US, while more recently I’ve been able to find desirable goods for sale online in Scotland and Europe. The recent announcement that Bitcoin will not be subject to V.A.T (“value added” sales tax) is the first announcement we’ve seen that makes the currency more widely accessible to business in the UK. Indeed, we’ve seen many new enterprises set up in London over the past few months alone. This is in fact a worrying trend that is swiftly seeing BTC use spread from the widely beneficial and publicly popular narcotic trade to more ethically dubious purposes such as hedge funding and big banking. Hopefully it won’t be long before we’re bestowed a regulatory authority which will make the latter uses just as morally meritorious as the former.”
Expert's opinion from Manuel Heilmann, Coinzone “I think this is very encouraging when we put it into perspective. Back in 1995 only about 2% of UK's population used the Internet. In 2000, only five years later, 25% of UK's population used the Internet. Now 11% of UK's population would use Bitcoin for various reasons. This is an encouraging start that we can build upon.
“It's still a long way to go until Bitcoin becomes mainstream. The Internet faced similar challenges 20 years ago and a lot of people had similar reservations. The whole Bitcoin community along with the Bitcoin Foundation and local associations need to pull together to educate the mainstream. Lack of knowledge is by far the biggest challenge for Bitcoin to become mainstream.
“However, I expect the UK to spearhead the Bitcoin movement in Europe because of three reasons:
1. The UK is the No. 1 in Europe in terms of online sales. Especially travel online booking is very popular and this is an industry that will be very keen to adopt Bitcoin because the lower transaction costs add to their bottom line.
2. The population in the UK is very open minded regarding new and innovative products. There is less reluctance to try something new.
3. The UK has a high proportion of migrant workers, who regularly transfer money back home. Right now they pay an average of 8-9% to companies like Western Union. Bitcoin gives them an opportunity to save 7-8%. I don't think they will pass this up once it becomes easier to get and hold Bitcoin.”