Pan-African financial services company Old Mutual Limited has released an annual Savings and Investment Monitor survey for South Africa, which polled respondents on awareness of and attitude toward cryptocurrencies in the country.
The recent study revealed that respondents generally have a positive regard of digital currencies, with 38 percent of respondents agreeing with the statement “I wish I had invested in [crypto] before” and 71 percent agreeing that “You can make a lot of money with them.” However, 43 percent of respondents agreed with the statement “They are bad news, like a pyramid scheme” and 53 percent said they do not understand how cryptocurrencies work.
In terms of overall awareness, 40 percent of respondents answered that they were aware to varying degrees, while 60 percent said they were not aware of cryptocurrencies.
In comparison with Europe, Australia, and the U.S., a survey conducted by a research company Ipsos on behalf of ING Bank B.V. revealed that 66 percent of Europeans had heard of cryptocurrency, while 33 percent agreed with the statement that crypto is the “future of spending online.” The share of awareness of crypto is equal to or exceeds 50 percent in every surveyed country, with the highest rate in Austria (79 percent) and Poland (77 percent). In the U.S., 57 percent of respondents have heard of cryptocurrency.
While the general public in South Africa shows a somewhat positive stance toward digital currency as an alternative form of investment, the country’s central bank chose to call digital currencies “cyber-tokens” because they “don’t meet the requirements of money.” The bank established a fintech task force to review its stance toward private cryptocurrencies and address regulatory issues in order to develop a relevant policy framework and regulatory system.
In May, South African Police were pursuing an alleged cryptocurrency investment fraud with over 28,000 investors suffering losses exceeding 1 billion rand ($80.4 million). As per the Hawks, an investigative unit of South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, “targeted members of the public are believed to have been encouraged by BTC Global agents to invest with promises of 2% interest per day, 14% per week and ultimately 50% per month. Payments were allegedly made every Monday. Some of the investors got paid in terms of the agreement. However, the payments suddenly stopped.”