The Ontario Securities Commission published a study earlier this week revealing that in spite of raised interest surrounding cryptocurrencies among residents, the vast majority of them lacked general knowledge about the technology. The study was conducted in March across 2500 individual residents of Ontario over the age of 18.
According to the study, “the vast majority of Ontarians are approaching cryptoassets with caution.” The study explained that on a practical level, this means that “only a small percentage” of Ontarians have holdings in digital currencies, and that holders “tend not to spend substantial sums of money acquiring them.”
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OSC Study: Lack of understanding of cryptoassets puts Ontarians at risk >> https://t.co/mHHkPLwN2y pic.twitter.com/cVoifJ90qf
Indeed, the OSC allegedly conducted the study to gain a better understanding of the way that Ontarians interact with cryptocurrency as the commission prepares to up its regulatory efforts. ING published a similar study with European, American, and Australian participants earlier this week.
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A General Lack of Understanding
The study noted that because Ontario has such a large population (13.6 million) that “a small percentage” is actually a significant number -roughly 500,000 people, a figure that is “sufficient to concern the OSC as a securities regulatory authority.”
Of those 500,000, about 42 percent said that they purchased cryptocurrency for speculative purposes, hoping to make a profit by holding onto their coins and then selling them at a higher price. Half of them claimed that they bought digital currencies because of excitement for the technology.
However, the majority of the people who responded that they had heard of Bitcoin were unable to answer basic questions about the technology. Participants were presented with six statements about Bitcoin and asked whether or not they were correct; only 30 percent correctly identified four or more of the statements as true or false, and only 3 percent identified all of the statements correctly.
The study also found that many Ontarians are unsure about the regulatory status of ICOs, noting that most ICOs are subject to securities regulation in Ontario. 10 percent of survey participants said that they had been solicited to take part in an ICO; 67 percent did not know which government body was in charge of regulating ICOs, and 18 percent said that they did not think that ICOs were regulated at all.
Only 1.5 percent of participants said that they had actually bought digital assets through a token sale, which translates to roughly 170,000 people.
The Canadian government has historically taken action to strike a regulatory balance between encouraging crypto industry growth and adequately protecting investors. Most recently, Canadian regulators (including the OSC) joined the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA) ‘Operation Cryptosweep’ to clear the cryptosphere of fraudulent ICOs.