Bitcoin has endured a torrid month with prices falling to $5,786, the lowest point of the year so far after a spate of hack attacks on exchanges and lingering accusations of prices manipulation rock prices and investor confidence.
However, a major Dutch bank has sent the crypto community a much-needed boost after finding that the general public is more receptive than otherwise thought to using digital currencies for spending online.
ING’s Cracking the Code research paper polled 14,828 from 15 European countries on the growth potential for digital currencies.
The bank found an unexpected appetite for the technology with 66 percent of people in Europe claiming to have heard of cryptocurrency, just under one in 10 (9 percent) own it with an additional 16 percent say they expect to own it in future, which, according to the report suggests “uptake could more than double”.
Jessica Exton, behavioural scientist at ING, said: “Cryptocurrency remains an abstract investment for many, but there may be more appetite for digital currencies than some might suggest.
“Based on our survey, ownership of cryptocurrencies could more than double in the future – although we do not know when.”
US twitter user @rallyqt described the news as “a ray of sunshine on this cold rainy day!”
The study found that three in 10 people across Europe say they would consider using cryptocurrencies to pay for an international purchase online. However, only 15 percent would consider receiving their take-home pay in bitcoin or similar.
Benjamin Dives, CEO and founder of LBX, told Express.co.uk: “The new research is extremely promising and indicative of a shift towards a broader understanding, and acceptance, of cryptocurrencies, and ultimately more informed investment.”
The paper highlights a move back towards cryptocurrency as means of payment rather than a speculative asset with just over a third of people in Europe polled (35 percent) responding that digital currencies, such as bitcoin, are the future of spending online, up seven percentage points from 2015.
Despite the deluge of negativity and the lingering fear that, according to Luke Shipley, CEO of Zinc, bitcoin has not yet, “truly tested the bottom of the market”, ING found that 35 percent of people in Europe agree the value of digital currencies will increase in the next 12 months.
One in three (32 percent) say cryptocurrencies are the future of investment with those who believe that investing in the share market is less risky than investing in digital currencies, split down the middle.
Jonas Goltermann, developed markets economist at ING, added that cryptocurrencies are set to take on a larger role in global finance.
He said: “Overall, cryptocurrency investments make up a small fraction of global financial assets, much less than 1 percent according to the Bank of England. So their impact on the global economy is still pretty limited and, at least from a monetary policy and financial stability perspective, central banks appear more curious than concerned about the growth of cryptocurrencies.
“The results from our survey suggest this could change, as many savers appear willing to consider crypto investments.
“If that were to happen, we’d expect policy-makers to take a more active interest in these instruments and how they affect the rest of the economy.”