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Following the UK government’s “Call for Information” on digital currencies, the Digital Currency Council (DCC) recently released results of a survey of a nationally representative sample of UK citizens that gauged their opinion about Bitcoin. Called the “Bitcoin Barometer,” the study is the first in a series of independent studies the DCC has planned that explore UK citizens’ sentiment toward the digital currency.

The study observes that Bitcoin awareness is high among UK citizens, with 71 percent of respondents having reported hearing about the digital currency, compared to 99 percent who know about PayPal, 87 percent who are aware of Western Union, 67 percent who have heard of MoneyGram, and 37 percent who know about Square.

The study also found that Bitcoin has a reputation problem, as nearly one-quarter of respondents said the digital currency has a “fair” or “very bad” reputation, while 13 percent said it has a “very good” or excellent reputation. The proportion of respondents who considered Bitcoin’s reputation as “fair” or “very bad” was higher than the proportion of those who expressed similar sentiments about the reputation of the four other payment systems: 22 percent for Western Union, 15 percent for MoneyGram, 11 percent for PayPal, and 6 percent for Square. Bitcoin did rank higher than Square when it came to a positive reputation, with 9 percent of respondents considering Square to have a “very good” or “excellent” reputation.

The study’s results suggest adoption and communication are the biggest challenges with respect to Bitcoins future, with:

  • 45 percent of respondents citing a lack of place to spend Bitcoin;
  • 40 percent citing a lack of consumer use of Bitcoin;
  • 38 percent citing difficulty in understanding how Bitcoin works;
  • 38 percent citing public perception of the digital currency;
  • 37 percent citing a lack of understanding of Bitcoin’s benefits;
  • and 29% citing associations with criminality.

Among those who are aware of Bitcoin, a significant portion said they would seek advice from a professional on the digital currency. Thirty-five percent said they would speak to someone certified by the DCC, 28 percent said they would seek advice from a financial adviser, 16 percent said they would turn to an accountant, and 12 percent said they would talk to a lawyer.

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