China, already well positioned to dominate government-run blockchain services and central bank-issued digital currency, has another advantage in the race to mass adoption: its citizens overwhelmingly trust in cryptocurrency.
According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, a 34,000-person online survey of 26 markets with 1,150 respondents each, just 48% of respondents worldwide trust crypto and an even smaller slice – only 35% – think it will bring about good. The data casts China as the most bullish place for crypto and its associated innovations among the 26 polled markets: 81% of Chinese market respondents indicated they trust crypto and blockchain and 62% percent believed the technologies will have a positive impact on the world.
Trust in crypto has surged year over year – not just in China. Mexico and Argentina leaped 20% or more from 2019, 17 countries grew by at least 10% and five countries notched 5%-plus gains. Only three countries – Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and the U.K. – saw falling trust in crypto and blockchain from 2019. Overall, global trust is up 11%.
Gathered before COVID-19 rocked financial markets and cryptocurrency with it, the Edelman data indicates crypto enjoyed a growing global base of positive sentiment that has only come into sharper focus in the run-up to the halving and in the era of infinite money printing, said Deidre Campbell, global chair of the Financial Services Sector for Edelman.
“This research I think really shows that crypto is very much increasingly in the consideration set as an alternative currency, but I think in this [COVID-19] environment we’re starting to really see people start to look at crypto, particularly Bitcoin, like a hedge on inflation,” Campbell said.
Even so, the pre-COVID-19 data captured glaring spots where crypto and blockchain has plenty of room to grow.
U.S. respondents approached the industry with statistically significant disdain. A mere 26% believe crypto and blockchain will have any positive impact on the world (Edelman posed this question on a five-point sliding scale). Canadians and British respondents led the doubters with only 17% positivity rates each.
Global tech skepticism also manifested in legal views: 84% of distrusers and 48% of “trusters” said the space needed tighter regulation. A majority of respondents said more regulation of crypto and blockchain is necessary.
A slight majority of Chinese market respondents called for stronger government controls. Eighty-one percent of those surveyed for Hong Kong, 67% for the U.S, 55% for South Korea and 34% for India said the same.
Other figures indicate the technologies bitcoin spawned in 2008 still have a ways to go before they appeal beyond their informational echo chamber. Those who claimed they were very well informed about crypto and blockchain also had the most positive sentiments toward them, at 71%. That figure dropped as the familiarity levels declined – it bottomed out at 19% among those who said they knew nothing.
The Edelman report identified four “imperatives” to improving global trust in cryptocurrency based on the survey results. At least 40 percent of all respondents said that communicating the tech’s downsides, the benefits, increasing education and committing the industry to a code of ethics, respectively, will help them build more trust.