Bitcoin has come a long way. Decentralized currency is still largely stigmatized and rarely fails to confuse beginners. But interest has expanded quite a bit since it only touched the radar of skeptical cryptography mailing list readers.


According to a fresh national-wide survey from the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), 6% of respondents are 'very likely' and 12% are 'somewhat likely' to purchase Bitcoin. 17% said they weren't sure.

Yet, younger voters averaged much higher. 43% of 18-24 year old participants indicated they were ‘very likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to purchase Bitcoin while only 8% of respondents older than 55 said the same. Of course, older generations tend to be less inclined to touch new technologies.

But there's still a long way to go. The bulk of participants (65%) want to stay clear of the currency for the time being.

The study

To study and determine how to approach cryptocurrencies, the Massachusetts Division of Banks, working with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), commissioned a report called “Consumer Attitutes on Bitcoin and Other Virtual Currencies.” The report is a part of the new Emerging Payments Task Force's goal to chart the course of government involvement:

The Task Force, comprised of senior state banking regulators, is taking a comprehensive look at the changing payments landscape to identify opportunities for a coordinated state approach in addressing virtual payments issues as well as promote compliance, security, and protection for consumers.

The task force cropped up earlier this year to research and survey the burgeoning virtual currency sector. The task force is charged with penning an official Bitcoin rulebook and held a Bitcoin-centric hearing in May. 

The reason for the report is based on typical “how the government should deal with the decentralized currency” motives, but entrepreneurs and developers could potentially use the information to attract new adopters. The report charted some of the concerns related to virtual currency. Participants indicated that Bitcoin security, and whether it is insured, were important factors in their willingness to adopt.

Regulation seems to leave consumers more at ease. 65% of participants said that “whether or not Bitcoin is regulated” is an important factor in their decision to purchase Bitcoin.

The task force also found that of the 1,014 or so participants, slightly more than half (51%) of consumers have heard of the currency. 45% have not.

Expert commentary

Some experts in the Bitcoin world have commented on the findings and have shared their thoughts on whether the 65% of people not wanting to buy virtual currencies is bad news or good news for Bitcoin. Here are a few:

Jacques Favier (

“The key factor, according to me: ‘43% of those in the 18–24 age bracket stated that they were ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to purchase or use digital currency. Only 8% of those over the age of 55 shared that sentiment, and 75% of respondents who were at least 65 years old said they would most likely not use or buy Bitcoin.’ But how would we understand that? Fear of soothing new, like any new tech? Or fear of a new money that could be adversarial (or just neutral) to their interest as a class? The dollar and euro are not only State-fiat currency; they carry an implicit economic and social choice, which (especially for the euro!) are clearly pro-seniors.

“May be the key figure would be, on the same population, what percentage had already or would consider buying gold […] as an investment. There [are] two issues with Bitcoin: 1- will it be a safety investment (like gold is, when nervous breakdown is coming on the market) 2 - will it be a cheap payment instrument. Hard to say, hard to balance. When 35% consider buying Bitcoin, what is it for?”

Michael Ruperto (IT Specialist, BlockChainTek):

“It actually surprises me how many people might end up buying Bitcoin in the near future. The title of the article is pessimistic. But what I read is “5% of US consumers ‘likely’ to buy Bitcoin.

 “[…] there is a strong drive for merchant adoption. And this is because the incentives are there. Merchants save up 3% on each transaction. That's massive money. Also people are buying and holding Bitcoin hoping for it to appreciate. And it will as long as the Bitcoin economy and the number of people voluntarily opting in continue to rise. Chances are most people will opt into Bitcoin to make money and as it appreciates, they will likely spend it as oppose to sell it on the open market.”

Jason Rose (Remote Customer Operations, Coinbase):

“I'll take 35% adoption any day. Isn't the critical mass point for humans 10%-ish.

“I’m sure there was a similar poll dole in 1899 about cars and 1995 with email. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat!!”

Isidor Zeuner (IT consultant):

“[…] you might have got a similar conclusion if you asked around if people would be likely to ever use a technology like Linux some years ago. Today, a lot of people might not even know that they do, because it is running in their smartphone, their DSL router, their digital TV set etc. It might turn out in a similar fashion for Bitcoin, where a lot of people will not even know that their world-wide wire transfers are fast and cheap because the bank uses Bitcoin behind the scenes. But not everybody wants to understand enough of the technology so it makes sense to actively embrace it.”

Shen Rustemovski (Bitcoin Enthusiast):

“Thanks for the info...1,000 people 'only' gotta love random surveys.”

David Carrera (Chair CIO Contractors, CEO Whoppa Digital):

“So what - such a statistic does not mean that those who opt-out are correctly accessing their opportunity or indeed the importance of a crypto-currency. We could ask how many people hold at least 10% of their net worth in GOLD bullion - not paper GOLD but actual physical GOLD in their possession? I would suggest fewer individuals do so, and yet if (when) the economy's of the world finally collapse GOLD and any real (alternative) currency will be of value and fiat currency (dollars) will fuel your fires.” 

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