Awareness in the U.K. appears to be on the rise as the latest survey shows that about 1.9 million adults in the country own cryptocurrencies. This increasing crypto adoption also seems to be happening evenly across several age demographics. Households with varying annual incomes are exposing themselves to Bitcoin (BTC) and other virtual currencies. Part of this increasing popularity reportedly boils down to a litany of crypto-related multimedia advertising. While ownership figures might be rising, many holders still see cryptos as a speculative play given previous examples of massive price gains and declines. The growing crypto adoption in the U.K. also comes at a time when the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is increasing its oversight of the industry.
Almost 2M Adult Brits Own CryptoAccording to the FCA’s Cryptoasset Consumer Research 2020 published on Tuesday, 3.86% of the U.K. adult population (~1.9M people) own cryptocurrencies. This figure comes from a survey conducted by the FCA in late 2019 when more than 3,500 from across the country took part. The report also showed that three-quarters of U.K. crypto holders own less than £1,000 (~$1,200). Indeed, the average cryptocurrency ownership, as indicated by the document, was £260 (~$320). Only households with an annual income north of £50,000 (~$61,500) tended to hold higher sums. In terms of gender and age, the FCA report showed that 79% of U.K. crypto owners are males, with more than two-thirds over the age of 35. From an age distribution standpoint, there seems to be a decrease in cryptocurrency ownership for people between 18 and 34 since 2019, as seen in the chart below.
Crypto Awareness Growing in the U.K.The report explains that crypto awareness in the U.K. is on the rise, with media playing a significant role in bringing it into the mainstream. Excerpts from the document read:
“Of cryptocurrency owners, 35% were made more likely to purchase them, after having seen an advert […] More people are first hearing about cryptocurrencies through the media, with ‘traditional media’ being the place where people are most likely to have first heard about cryptocurrencies.”Indeed, traditional media, like the BBC, as well as online blogs, accounted for 54% of first crypto contact among survey respondents. Internet adverts also contribute greatly to sending retail consumers on their first virtual currency ownership journey. However, the growing influence of British media also comes at a cost. The FCA report indicated that people who were persuaded by advertisers to buy crypto often ended up regretting the decision.
Speculative PlayThe FCA found that more than three-quarters of the respondents purchased their crypto from exchanges. And only 5% of this number used U.K.-based platforms, while 83% preferred to buy their coins from overseas bourses. Not surprisingly, the FCA has already issued warnings about foreign exchanges operating in the country without authorization. Despite the growing crypto awareness, a large percentage of U.K. crypto owners still have not caught up with the meme: “not your keys, not your bitcoin.” Most of the survey respondents say that they store their coins on exchanges or on other online wallets. From an investment perspective, 47% of respondents said they see cryptos as a speculative play that could make or lose them money. Back in the 2019 edition of the poll, only 31% fell in this category. Almost a third of the participants who indicated having no intention of buying virtual currencies pointed to volatility risk as the main driver for their decision. An equal number of respondents also indicated that cryptos form a part of their long-term savings and that they view them as a repudiation of the mainstream financial system. As is often the case, Bitcoin, the largest crypto by market capitalization, is the most popular choice. Interestingly, the majority of respondents said they had heard of Facebook’s Libra before other significant coins like Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
Recent FCA Cryptocurrency Regulatory MeasuresOn the regulatory front, the FCA continues to vigilantly monitor the space. As previously reported by BeInCrypto, crypto businesses in the country must register by the end of June (today) or face forced shutdowns. At the start of the year, the FCA amended its registration fee regime for cryptocurrency businesses based on annual turnover. Firms with net income below £250,000 will pay £2,000 in fees while firms earning above £250,000 will pay £10,000.
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