Are people ready for Bitcoin?


The internet has become a means of exchange, through which people buy and sell any type of goods. The market has reached the level at which new payment methods have been created: new types of digital currency. This type of money exists only in digital form, having value “because people accept it” (Van Alstyne, p. 1). Therefore, there is no bank that produces it or that controls their circulation. The most popular and valuable cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, which is a global money system currency, which gives people the convenience to exchange transactions on the internet between wallets in just a few minutes, keeping their identity hidden and secure. This is the main reason why Bitcoin has a steadily growing popularity among people all around the world. Another reason is the fluctuating price, which has increased its value in the eyes of investors. With a considerable adoption rate, “Bitcoin has attracted the attention of regulators who all agree that regulation is inevitable” (Mandjee, p. 181), a request that has been accepted by some countries and ignored by others, “Bitcoin is accepted for fee tuitions in Cyprus” (Mandjee, p. 3).

© Image by VIN JD from Pixabay.

In this report, it will be analyzed the level of how prepared people are for the regularization of the most well-known virtual currency, Bitcoin. The report is structured in such a way as to answer the question: to what extent are people ready for Bitcoin’s regulation? The aim is to analyze the audience's current relationship with the media object, Bitcoin, the level of knowledge and awareness of what the use of this currency involves, but also how prepared people are for its regularization. The report is for any interested person, not only for those involved, who are divided by the “FinCEN guidance…into three categories: users, exchangers and administrators” (Prentis, p. 617). The purpose of the report is to present that people, both those who use it and those who do not, are prepared to some extent to regularize Bitcoin, as it can be a valuable payment method. However, there is still room for improvement, especially with regard to the risks it imposes at this time. The goal is to understand that most people, although Bitcoin is considered risky, are ready and enthusiastic about its regulation. In order to answer the question, it is necessary to use research methods to collect enough data, so there were conducted a survey and a content analysis on Twitter.



© Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

To carefully examine people's opinions and feelings about regularization, I adopted a methodological triangulation by using two types of research methods, as stated in the introduction. Regarding the survey and the interview, the goal was to address the questions in such a way that the level of reliability is satisfactory, collecting only the necessary data to answer the question. In order to have reliable data, the question set for the survey consisted of at least one explanatory sentence for a precise consistency of answers. The questions were addressed concisely, being strictly relevant for the regularization of Bitcoin and some risks associated with it. In this way, there were no irrelevant answers or questions that would put the subject in an uncomfortable position.

Firstly, a set of survey questions was conducted consisting of nine questions. There were 28 entries in the survey, containing two types of audience: both those who do not use Bitcoin and users. The purpose of the survey is to analyze the general opinion of ordinary people, not experts. For a clear and concise experience, in order not to collect irrelevant answers, given that the subjects are not experts, each question had a short introduction. In order to eliminate any risk related to ethics, the participants had to check that they are over 18 years old, that they participate voluntarily in the research study and that the answers to the questions are strictly based on their personal opinions. As ticking was mandatory, without doing so, the participant could not continue to answer questions. Therefore, all subjects were aware of the study and the potential risk of breaching ethics has been minimized. In order to analyze the survey data, the answers for each question were extracted separately, having the number of participants for each answer for a more accurate analysis.


Secondly, another technique for research was content analysis, because the media object is a virtual currency, and analyzing virtual communication on this topic is essential for understanding people's feelings related to Bitcoin’s regulation. Content analysis was performed on Twitter using one online research tool: Keyhole.


© Keyhole.

To maintain reliability, the unit of meaning was the analysis of the most commonly used words and the concept of trustworthiness suggested in Twitter users' posts. Also, there was collected data related to the majority of keywords, such as "invest" and analysis on the positive, negative or neutral sentiments of users. Data minimization was achieved by strictly collecting the relevant data, already mentioned. The posts being public, the collection was objective.

The results of the survey are presented in the Figure 1. As stated already, 28 people participated in the survey. When asked if they heard about Bitcoin, 21 were aware of its existence, but never used it, 2 people never heard of it and 5 people were users. When asked about the easiness’s of shopping online with Bitcoin, 16 participants responded “yes” and 3 responded “no”. When asked their opinion on the criminal risk Bitcoin imposes, 9 claimed that criminals are using any kind of money – not only bitcoins -, while 19 responded that Bitcoin is risky. When asked what their opinion on Bitcoin’s regulation is, 16 people claimed that it would be more trustworthy to have a bank, while 6 would like the situation to remain the same. When asked whether they consider people are ready for the regulation, 16 said “yes”, while 11 said “no”. For the last question, when asked if they would give a chance for Bitcoin to be regulated, 17 said “Yes”, while 11 said “No”.

Figure 1

The findings from the content analysis are presented in Figure 2 (the most engaging posts from Twitter), Figure 3 (the most frequent keywords) and Figure 4, which is the most interesting, as it shows people’s sentiments regarding Bitcoin’s regulation.


Given the results of the survey, it is clear that most people know what Bitcoin is and consider that it would be great to be an online payment method, although they think it is risky. This suggests that there are uncertainties, due to the “the lack of regulation that affects the negative public image” (Mishra, p. 6). Although the answers to question 6 show that most would choose fiat money, the feeling is positive, because people want regularization, a central bank giving much more trustworthiness to Bitcoin.

Figure 2

Regarding Figure 2, the second post demonstrates one of the problems with Bitcoin, which could be mitigated by regularization: criminals.

Figure 3

Regarding the most used words, there are no negative words, mainly words like "earn", "invest", which emphasizes the fact that people agree, in large numbers, with the use of Bitcoin.

Figure 4

In terms of people's feelings, 56% are neutral, while 36% are positive for regularization. This suggests that people are open, therefore “better regulation will benefit crypto investors, further the development of new technologies and reduce the risk of cyber-attacks” (Massad, p. 2).

In conclusion, considering all the results, the hypothesis from the introduction is demonstrated, because people are prepared for the regularization of Bitcoin, but they still have uncertainties regarding its security. These will certainly be diminished only after regularization. People want to use it, to invest, to shop online, being considered an asset. Neutral feelings exist because of these uncertainties, but positive feelings are to a greater extent than negative ones. Ultimately, people are prepared for regularization to a great extent. Both ordinary people, experts and organizations are open to learning what Bitcoin means and receiving it in their lives.



References:

Mandjee, T., 2015. Bitcoin, Its Legal Classification And Its Regulatory Framework. [online] Digitalcommons.law.msu.edu. Available at: <https://digitalcommons.law.msu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=jbsl> [Accessed 17 April 2020].

Massad, T., 2019. It’s Time To Strengthen The Regulation Of Crypto-Assets. [online] Brookings.edu. Available at: <https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Timothy-Massad-Its-Time-to-Strengthen-the-Regulation-of-Crypto-Assets-2.pdf> [Accessed 18 April 2020].

Mishra, M., 2018. View Of Bitcoin: A General Awareness Survey. [online] Management.nrjp.co.in. Available at: <http://management.nrjp.co.in/index.php/JBMQA/article/view/181/325> [Accessed 20 April 2020].

Prentis, M., 2015. Digital Metal: Regulating Bitcoin As A Commodity. [online] Scholarlycommons.law.case.edu. Available at: <https://scholarlycommons.law.case.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2654&context=caselrev> [Accessed 18 April 2020].

Van Alstyne, M., 2014. ACM: Digital Library: Communications Of The ACM. [online] Dl.acm.org. Available at: <https://dl.acm.org/doi/fullHtml/10.1145/2594288> [Accessed 20 April 2020].

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