Poll: Vast Majority in US Would Rather Invest in Gold than Bitcoin

Daniel Cawrey
Mar 25, 2014 at 16:03 UTC
Updated Mar 26, 2014 at 14:55 UTC

Although almost half of US citizens know what bitcoin is, only 13% would choose it over gold as an investment vehicle, suggests a new survey.

The poll – which received responses from 2,039 adults aged 18 and over – was conducted by Harris Interactive, in partnership with a financial management company Yodlee back in December 2013.

Although more people in the Western states knew what bitcoin was, that knowledge didn’t necessarily translate into a desire for adoption. For example, a leading 55% of people in the West were familiar with bitcoin, however only 7% of them would invest in BTC over gold.

Gold vs bitcoin

Gold was used as the comparative investment vehicle over bitcoin in the survey, and the results showed that the average person would prefer to invest in gold over bitcoin by a large margin.

Question: If you had to choose between these two choices, would you rather invest in gold or bitcoin?

Question: Would you rather invest in gold or bitcoin? (Base: know about bitcoin)

Furthermore, of those who did have a knowledge of bitcoin, most still didn’t want to invest in the digital currency, with only 13% saying that they would invest in the digital currency over gold.

In terms of gender, 14% of men compared with 10% of women would choose bitcoin as an investment over gold.

The survey’s summary report suggests that Americans, as a result of this particular poll, have a low level of trust in bitcoin. However, it may simply be that many do not have enough information to make an informed investment decision.

In a statement, Yodlee’s Senior VP of Operations and Information Security Tim O’Brien said:

“Bitcoin will be hard for consumers to understand and trust on a large scale until secure, user-friendly tools and services emerge to make it as convenient and safe as possible to use.”

Reluctant on regulation

When asked if bitcoin regulation by governments was a good idea, the vast proportion of people who knew what bitcoin was disagreed, or were not sure.

Question: Do you believe any government should be allowed to regulate bitcoin? Base: Know what bitcoin is (n=912)

Question: Do you believe any government should be allowed to regulate bitcoin?

Geography plays some role in attitudes towards regulation, it seems. The survey found that people in the Northeast (28%), or in the West (30%), were much more inclined to believe that bitcoin should be regulated than in the Midwest (only 16%).

Looking at respondents’ ages revealed that 39% of adults aged 18-34, and 42% of men aged 18-34, would not advocate the government regulation of bitcoin. These figures drop with age, the poll discovered, with 28% of those aged 45-54, and 24% aged 55 and over, saying that they did not want to see bitcoin regulated.

Yet, as a whole, the fact that less than a quarter of survey respondents said that bitcoin should be regulated could be seen as a good sign. It may indicate that, despite the number of negative stories about bitcoin in the media, Americans are still largely keeping an open mind.

Other findings

When it looked at the backgrounds of the respondents, that survey found that the more money a person made, the more familiar they were with bitcoin. Sixty-one per cent of those with a household income of over $100,000 per year had heard of bitcoin – higher than the figures for the average person (48%).

Furthermore, people living in the Northeastern states of the US were more knowledgeable about bitcoin, according to the survey. This is perhaps because of the concentration of financial professionals in that particular area, especially in New York City.

Despite some positive findings, however, investment interest in bitcoin seems to be very low. The percentages (by age bracket) of people who would invest in bitcoin over gold were:

  • 18-34: 20%
  • 35-44: 12%
  • 45-54: 13%
  • 55-64: 7%
  • 65+: 8%

Other surveys that have polled people about bitcoin have been generally more positive than this one conducted by Harris Interactive and Yodlee.

One survey that found 57% of UK citizens know about bitcoin, another that 51% of ‘techies’ are happy being paid in bitcoin, and a third that 57% of young Americans believe that bitcoin boosts the global economy.

Survey image via Shutterstock