The Digital Currency Council's recently released study on UK citizens reveals that Bitcoin's biggest challenges are around adoption and communications, and that digital currencies have got a persistent reputation problem.

It is in light of the call for information made by the government of the UK earlier this month that the American organization the Digital Currency Council released on Wednesday a study conducted by UK strategic research firm, Reputation Leaders, on UK citizens' sentiments on Bitcoin. 

Reputation of Bitcoin by region

Back in May, digital commerce solutions provider Venda, conducted a research on UK customers' feeling on using Bitcoin to pay for online shopping. The results highlighted UK citizens' resilience towards Bitcoin, and noted a lack of understanding of the technology.

Back then, 71% of respondents said they would rather not use Bitcoin to pay online, 43% expressed a lack of confidence, and 43% admitted not fully understanding how the digital currency works. This time, the Digital Currency Council's survey shows that Brits' concerns moved from security and technical understanding, to Bitcoin's slow adoption pace and public image issue. 

Entitled the "Bitcoin Barometer," the Digital Currency Council study consisted of online interviews with 527 nationally representative adults in the UK on October 1, and its key findings include Bitcoin's public image issue, with the digital currency's biggest challenges in the future identified as being adoption and communications.


When comparing with other payment systems, awareness of Bitcoin is relatively high, with 71% of interviewees having heard of the digital currency, in front of Moneygram (67%) and Square (37%). Meanwhile, Western Union and Paypal are in the lead when it comes to brand recognition with 87% and 99%, respectively.

Awareness of Bitcoin in UK

Regarding reputation, Bitcoin performed the worst among the 5 payment systems selected with 24% of UK interviewees believing that Bitcoin has a "fair/very bad reputation," against 13% believing that Bitcoin has a "very good/excellent reputation."

The other 4 payment systems such as Paypal, Western Union, Moneygram and Square displayed positive results with the majority of interviewees believing all 4 have a relatively good reputation.

However, these results greatly vary when taking into consideration the socio-economic criteria. While the global sentiment on Bitcoin's reputation is said to be bad, this trend is attributed to 35+ year-old individuals. Overall, the youngest portion of the interviewees say Bitcoin has a "very good/excellent reputation," and it is starting from age 35 that the trend quickly shifts to a rather pessimistic view with regards to the perception of Bitcoin.

Reputation of Bitcoin by gender and age

In late August, a US survey from the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) also highlighted the importance of socio-economic criteria when measuring Bitcoin awareness and adoption.

Key Findings

UK Study: Bitcoin Familiar to 71% of Brits but Suffers from an Image Problem - Infographics

The biggest takeaways from the study included:

  • Awareness of Bitcoin is high: 71% of respondents have heard of Bitcoin 
  • Compared with 99% who are aware of Paypal (and 37% who are aware of Square)

Bitcoin continues to have a public image problem:

  • 24% of respondents noting Bitcoin has “fair” or “very bad” reputation
  • 13% noting it has a “very good” or “excellent” reputation

Bitcoin’s biggest challenges for future adoption are perceived to revolve around adoption and communications, with:

  • 45% noting a lack of places to spend bitcoin
  • 40% noting a lack of consumer use of bitcoin
  • 38% noting difficulty in understanding how Bitcoin works
  • 38% noting the public perception of Bitcoin
  • 37% noting a lack of understanding of the benefits of Bitcoin
  • 29% noting Bitcoin’s association with criminality

Of those who are aware of Bitcoin, when seeking advice on the digital currency:

  • 28% would turn to a financial advisor
  • 16% would turn to an accountant
  • 12% would turn to a lawyer
  • 35% would turn to someone certified by the Digital Currency Council

Adoption as Bitcoin's biggest challenge

Regarding Bitcoin's biggest hurdles, the trend shows that Brits believe them to be adoption, communications and structural, environmental issues. Among the 377 respondents aware of Bitcoin, 45% say the lack of places to spend bitcoins is among the Bitcoin's biggest challenges while 40% cited the lack of consumer use for Bitcoin.

Besides the challenge of mainstream adoption, 38% of the people surveyed believe another barrier is the difficulty of understanding how the technology works; 38% cited problems with the perception of Bitcoin by the public and, finally, 37% of the study participants pointed out the lack of understanding by the public regarding Bitcoin's benefits.

Given these results, Digital Currency Council CEO David Berger stated:

"This study demonstrates the strong demand for the support of lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors in the rapidly growing Bitcoin economy. While grounded in a breakthrough technology, the future of Bitcoin rests on the commitment of these professionals to get trained so they may competently fulfill the demand for their services. If digital currency adoption continues to grow as it has been, these professionals will play a critical role in its development."

Launched in September, the Digital Currency Council is an American organization composed of financial professionals, attorneys and accountants, dedicated to support the development of best-in-class professional practices in the digital currency economy. The organization aims to deliver trainings and certifications to cryptocurrency professionals.

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