In January this year, the world watched in horror as sky-high fires tore through 44 million hectares of Australian bushland, engulfing property, wildlife and humanity. Then, just as victims were emerging from the ashes, COVID-19 arrived and the local economy went into lockdown. Gross domestic product shrank 7% in the three months through June, unemployment rose as high as 7.5% and Australia entered its first recession in 30 years.
Beyond the bleak news headlines and broader economic downturn, I have uncovered evidence to suggest that a sizable chunk of the Aussie population see bitcoin as a ray of hope.
This post is part of CoinDesk’s 2020 Year in Review – a collection of op-eds, essays and interviews about the year in crypto and beyond. Adrian Przelozny is CEO of Independent Reserve, a cryptocurrency exchange.
In November 2020, we conducted the annual Independent Reserve Cryptocurrency Index (IRCI) where we surveyed over 1,100 ordinary Australians to get a gauge on their current feelings about crypto. Crucially, we didn’t seek out existing crypto users, nor did we sample the users of our own exchange. We wanted to hear from everyday Australians from all walks of life and made our survey representative of Australian demographics.
The data revealed their confidence and trust in digital currencies had significantly improved. Almost one in five Australians now owns crypto, and, at 91.4%, nearly everyone had heard about it. But what is perhaps more poignant was the big change in how many people were inclined to think bitcoin is a scam – only 17.3$ are wary about it now, down from 21.3% in 2019. Instead, Australians are now more likely to view the world’s dominant crypto as a store of value, an investment vehicle or money.
We witnessed that growing confidence on our exchange, too, as we welcomed new traders in droves. Our worst month for account registrations in 2020 counted 50% more new signups than our best month in 2019. These are some of the most…