Therefore, it’s interesting to note the findings of the special cryptocurrency edition of Edelman’s Trust Barometer report, which was released earlier this week. Working with a sample size of 34,000 adults (18+ years old) across 28 countries, the survey carried out by the PR company is by no means comprehensive, but still offers some intriguing insights into the public perception of cryptocurrencies.
Crypto isn’t the biggest tech fear
Edelman started its surveys in 2001, and since then, its annual reports have been a highly regarded barometer of public trust in social institutions.
On a more general note, its 2020 annual survey (published in January, before COVID-19 became a serious global economic shock), revealed plenty of concerns about technology’s increasing importance in the world economy. A majority of people felt that pace of change was too fast, with over 80% of those surveyed specifically worried about losing their job to automation. Over half the participants expressed doubt as to whether capitalism was working at all.
Almost 50% of people surveyed across markets in the cryptocurrency edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer report generally trust cryptocurrencies. By comparison, only 10% more people trust banks.
Stark US-China divide in crypto trust
Blockchain trust by country also throws up some interesting contrasts and highlights some geopolitical realities. 34% of US respondents trust cryptocurrency, a slight drop from 2019. As the world’s biggest economy, the US is a highly coveted market among crypto firms, but with a decline in trust and a vested interest in protecting the dominance of the dollar, it could well be other countries that end up fuelling crypto’s future.
Over 80% of Chinese respondents trust crypto, a 10% increase since last year. Trust in crypto also jumped up significantly in Latin markets such as Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. The native currencies of these countries have suffered a lot from depreciation against the dollar in 2019, so it’s no surprise that the US’ southern neighbours would look to crypto as an alternative to dollar domination.
Crypto’s potential for good
Overall, only 35% of respondents believe cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology will have a net positive impact. Given the ideological motivation behind crypto’s founding, it still faces an uphill struggle to convince people of its noble intentions.
The US and China are also very split on whether cryptocurrency is a good or bad thing. Just 26% of US participants are convinced of blockchain’s potential for good, whereas China’s figure is 62%.
Given the Chinese government’s official support for blockchain research, and the imminent launch of the digital Yuan, it is China, rather than the land of the free, that emerges as the biggest champion for blockchain.
Majority support regulation
Perhaps the strong numbers in China are unsurprising when one considers that over 60% of respondents agreed that the cryptocurrency sector needs more regulation. This hints that in order to reach mainstream and adoption, cryptocurrency cannot always be opposed to governments and banks, but rather must find a way to work together to win public trust. This process is already well underway. It increasingly looks like blockchain will improve existing financial institutions, rather than replace them.
Overall, the trend towards mainstream trust in cryptocurrency is positive. Out of the 28 markets surveyed, only three saw trust in cryptoassets go down from last year, and it was only by a small amount. However, one of these was the US, whose disproportionate influence on the world stage cannot be discounted. We’ve just seen, for example, the SEC strike down Telegram’s TON project and gram currency. Indeed, the US doesn’t just have the ability to regulate itself, but the world. Time will tell whether increased adoption in other markets will eventually force the US to change its approach.