If you read this site on a regular basis, then you may already know what a bitcoin is. However, a study conducted by Bloomberg suggests that less than half of Americans are aware of what it is. The media outlet found that 42% of those who responded to their telephone survey were correctly able to identify what a bitcoin is (Maybe the number is skewed because it was a phone survey, but who knows?)
What a bitcoin isn’t
Bloomberg conducted the bitcoin survey between Dec. 6 and 9. It covered 1,004 Americans and carriers a margin error of plus or minus 3/1 percentage points.
The media outlet found that 46% of those who responded to the survey were not exactly sure what a bitcoin is. It found that 6% thought it was a new app for the iPhone, while another 6% thought it was a game for the Xbox.
What bitcoins could be used for
Even those who correctly identified bitcoins as a digital currency were unsure exactly what they would use it for. Many couldn’t fathom accepting them as payment for their business and weren’t even sure what they were worth. Some had just a very vague idea of what a digital currency is. For example, one respondent heard about bitcoins because of their use in crime, stating, “There was someone who was using it for something illegal.”
Regulators in the U.S. took up the issue of bitcoins recently, considering exactly what use they might be within the legitimate financial markets. Most focused on the digital currency as a payments system. Others have agreed with this assessment, pointing out that bitcoins don’t really act as a currency, but rather, as more of a payments system.
Should bitcoins be regulated?
Bloomberg’s survey also asked people who correctly identified bitcoins about whether or not they should be regulated. Nearly half of them said it should continue not being regulated. According to the survey, Americans who are under the age of 35 are more likely to know what bitcoins are compared to those who are older. This demographic is also the most likely to say they think bitcoins should continue being outside the supervision of the government.