Though increasingly common, cryptocurrency is more popular in some countries than in others. According to a new report, crypto in Europe is more popular than in America. Overall, Europeans know more about and buy more crypto than their American counterparts. Here’s what we know about the popularity of crypto today, and what Europeans and Americans expect of crypto in the future.
This data originates from an ING Group survey conducted between March and April of 2018. The survey includes 15 countries, including the United States and Australia. Each question received a minimum of 1,000 responses, except for Luxembourg, which has a population of less than 600,000.
More Europeans Have Heard of Cryptocurrency
Though you might be obsessed with all things bitcoin, not everyone has even heard of cryptocurrency. In America, a paltry 57% of people have heard it mentioned—nevermind knows what it is. Comparatively, 66% of Europeans and 70% of Australians have heard of it.
Only three European countries are less aware of the crypto revolution than Americans: Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. By comparison, Romanian, Polish, and Austrians have heard the most about crypto.
These figures shouldn’t come as a surprise. Cryptocurrency’s main advantage is that it gives us the never-before-seen ability to make transactions quickly, safely and economically without going through a bank, credit card company or government-issued currency. The worse a country’s economy is, the more people worry about the value of their currency.
Most European Union members use the Euro, with the notable exceptions of Poland and Romania. These countries have yet to qualify to join the Euro Zone. Specifically, countries have to stay above specific deficit and debt levels and reach other fiscal criteria defined under Euro Convergence. In other words, Poland and Romania aren’t on the Euro because their economies aren’t strong enough. A weaker economy leads to more interest in alternatives like cryptocurrency.
Percentage of Population That Owns Crypto
Naturally, the use of crypto in Europe loosely correlates to how many have heard of it. Turkey, Romania, Poland, Spain and the Czech Republic have the highest rates of cryptocurrency ownership. Keep in mind that the Czech Republic also doesn’t use the Euro as currency yet.
By contrast, Spain is doing well economically. However, Spain just emerged from a decade of economic recession and was one of the European countries hardest hit by the 2008 Financial Crash. One could assume that the Spanish are wary of economic prosperity, and most likely want to keep their options open with cryptocurrency.
Turkey has the highest rate of cryptocurrency ownership at 18%. Through the same economic lens, Turkey’s interest in cryptocurrency makes sense. Turkey is not a member of the EU; rather, they are only a candidate.
Furthermore, Turkey is the least stable country out of the 15 considered. In 2016, there was a failed military coup against President Erdoğan, who people have widely accused of moving Turkey away from democracy and towards authoritarianism. Since 2016, religious tensions, restriction of free speech and freedom of the press and human rights violations have only increased.
This survey collected data in the spring of 2018. If it were to include data from today, more Turkish people would own cryptocurrency in light of the country’s recent economic downturn resulting from Trump’s tariffs.
I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2018
After Trump tweeted this, the Turkish Lira plunged even further. Even right now, the Lira is in the midst of a crisis. By contrast, Bitcoin’s price has been slowly climbing after short positions hit record lows. Who wouldn’t rather hold cryptocurrency than a government-backed currency whose value is dictated by Trump’s tweets?
Europeans Expect to Buy Crypto in the Future
Who will own the most cryptocurrency in the next few years? The countries that are the most concerned about their economies, meaning their national currencies, will dominate the cryptocurrency market of the future. Turkey, Romania, Spain, Poland, and Italy show the most interest in the future of crypto in Europe. Italy has just become the latest European country to spend big on blockchain.
This is in keeping with Spain and Italy’s recent economic troubles, and Turkey, Poland, and Romania’s current ones. In 2017, there were widespread protests against the Romanian government after the Minister of Justice secretly amended the penal code. Indeed, Romania has gutted anti-corruption laws and is no longer considered a full-fledged democracy.
In recent times, similar events have occurred in Poland with the rise of white nationalism. In the fall of 2017, Poland celebrated its 99th year of independence with a 60,000 person march that included Nazis and nationalists.
Though Romania and Poland are in the midst of far-right political upheaval, Turkey’s situation is dire. For that reason, an impressive 45% of Turkish people expect to own cryptocurrency in the future.
Overall, Americans do not lag too far behind Europeans. A little over 1/5 of Americans expect to own cryptocurrency while 1/4 of Europeans feel the same. Despite the American political climate, people still feel a level of confidence in our economy. The logic goes, why do we need a decentralized technology when centralization is working? Europeans, on average, have less faith.
Why These Countries Own More Crypto Than America
In short, the worse a country’s political/economic situation, the more its residents gravitate towards cryptocurrency. For instance, Luxembourg has one of the highest GDP’s per capita in Europe. Furthermore, Luxembourg is also the investment capital of Europe. A prosperous country with a history of relying upon established financial institutions, Luxembourg is the least likely to be interested, nevermind invest, in cryptocurrency.
By comparison, European countries with struggling economies and governments demonstrate an interest in cryptocurrency. And the worse their situation, the more they care about crypto—as demonstrated by Turkey.
But regarding crypto in Europe, how does the U.S. compare? 63% of Americans haven’t even heard of cryptocurrency and only 8% own any. In the future, one in five Americans expects to own cryptocurrency. All these figures are lower than their European counterparts. There are two main reasons why Americans care less about crypto than Europeans.
First and foremost, interest in cryptocurrency has an inverse correlation with confidence in the economy. According to Market Watch, American’s haven’t had this much confidence in the U.S. economy since the 1990s Dot-com bubble.
Secondly, the U.S. is in the throes of a nationalist movement. Trump won on the notion that America comes first. So far, he’s kept that promise by instituting tariffs and taking an aggressive approach to foreign policy. Unlike Europeans who see the advantages of a borderless currency like crypto—they’ve already reaped the benefits from the Euro Zone—Americans don’t necessarily perceive borders as a bad thing.
But if the U.S. dollar takes a substantial hit, all this will change. And it’s only a matter of time. And recently, Ron Paul said the crypto shouldn’t be taxed. Furthermore, blockchain is another story. The tech behind crypto is already revolutionizing major American industries.