The securities regulator in Canada’s Ontario province has raised concerns that public knowledge of cryptocurrency appears to be lacking, despite a growing interest in the nascent technology among local residents.
The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) published the results of a survey on Thursday that asked over 2,500 Ontario residents aged 18 or older about their awareness and knowledge of cryptocurrency and initial coin offerings.
The research, which took place in March, found that 5 percent of Ontarians currently hold cryptocurrency assets such as bitcoin and ethereum. While the percentage appears to be relatively small, the OSC said the figure still translates to over 500,000 residents in the province – a number that is “sufficient to concern the OSC as a securities regulatory authority.”
Among the surveyed cryptocurrency holders, nearly half of them bought the assets because of their enthusiasm for the technology, while 42 percent did so in the hope of making profits by selling at a higher price.
Adding to the OSC’s concerns is a result showing that, while the public are largely aware of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, most of them do not understand basics of the technology.
For instance, the survey shows that over 80 percent of respondents indicated they have heard of bitcoin. But when asked six questions about bitcoin, only about 30 percent could answer four or more correctly, and only three percent made no mistakes at all.
Further, for respondents who currently hold cryptocurrency assets, the survey said around 15 percent of them answered the six questions correctly.
The survey also indicated that 1.5 percent of the respondents said they had participated in an initial coin offering, meaning over 170,000 Ontarians had bought crypto assets through a token sale. The report added that around 10 percent of respondents had been solicited by a token offering scheme.
The OSC raised concerns that a majority of the respondents who had heard of cryptocurrency before taking the survey (67 percent) did not know who regulates ICOs and 18 percent of them believed ICOs are not regulated.
The survey is the OSC’s latest effort to gauge public knowledge of the cryptocurrency industry as the regulator beefs up efforts to monitor token sales targeting Ontarian residents.
It also comes just a month after the regulator joined the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) to start working with counterparts in the U.S. to scrutinize ICOs projects.
Ontario map image via Shutterstock