UK FCA crypto assets research: Industry reaction

"Education alone will not drive adoption, compelling use cases will. It is not up to the FCA or universities. That would only go so far"

This week, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority published research into UK consumer attitudes to cryptoassets. It found that 73% of Brits don’t know what a cryptocurrency is or are unable to define it.

Coin Rivet brings you reactions and thoughts on what this research will mean for the larger industry.

Nick Cowan, Managing Director and Founder of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange Group: “The research tells us that digital assets are still in the early stages of permeating the UK landscape. While the space has experienced significant growth globally, the levels of mainstream adoption haven’t been even across various jurisdictions. The fact that over 70% of those surveyed haven’t heard of cryptocurrencies or are unable to define cryptocurrencies underlines the urgent need for more accessible education on blockchain and digital assets. Education around blockchain technology and digital assets isintrinsically linked to the sustained growth of the industry globally. Those surveyed cited risk and lack of regulation around digital assets among the reasons why they haven’t invested in cryptocurrencies, which is further illustration of the need for increased transparency, regulation, and consumer protection to help the industry grow.”

Vaibhav Kadikar, CEO of CloseCross: “The most heartening take away from the survey is that people that understand cryptocurrencies sustain a long-term view and are committed to at least a three-year horizon for holding the assets. Also, within that same crypto literate group, there is no buyers remorse in spite of the bearish market the past 15 months. This is a positive insight and reveals how once educated, the public can see the great potential for cryptocurrencies.

The implication for the broader industry remains the same – work on compelling use cases and drive adoption. Until the wider population understands what they can do with cryptocurrencies and why the benefits outweigh the cons, we will remain at the lower end of adoption.

Education alone will not drive adoption, compelling use cases will. It is not up to the FCA or universities. That would only go so far. The report should neither encourage nor discourage anyone within the entire financial industry, from incumbents to startups, from entering the space. At this early stage, the space is mostly dominated by visionaries and early-adopters. While mainstream companies and developers may be tempted to wait until the technology has been embraced by the masses, in this fast-moving world that may be too late.”

Jessica Exton, Behavioural Scientist at ING: “Our research into cryptocurrency suggests that people are generally cautious about investing in digital currencies, dispelling ideas that Bitcoin might be an alternative ‘safe’ investment. Indeed, cryptocurrency is considered more risky than most other assets.

The research also finds that Europeans are more likely to seek out specialist websites or financial advisors rather than input from friends or family, when looking to invest in cryptocurrency. This may reflect a general feeling that this is a complicated trend and therefore requires specialist input.

Perceptions of cryptocurrency depend on multiple factors such as familiarity with technology, risk attitudes, media coverage and what friends are doing. Indeed, expectations of how cryptocurrency will be used in the future differ across the 15 countries we surveyed last year. The UK was relatively pessimistic, with one in four agreeing that cryptocurrency would be the future of spending online or the future of investment. This compared to a European average of one in three.”

Jill Lorimer, Criminal Litigation Partner, Kingsley Napley: “Given the FCA is currently consulting on how to bring some types of this controversial asset within the regulated sphere, its survey provides food for thought. Clearly regulation is only a small part of the equation for those who might consider crypto investments with other more fundamental barriers being a factor too.  We can also infer that cryptocurrencies are not about to go mainstream in appeal even when regulated. Regulation will hopefully protect less knowledgeable users and will, if anything, ensure that cryptocurrencies become a niche market product for sophisticated investors.”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.

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