The UK's Financial Conduct Authority estimates that around 2.6 million UK consumers have bought cryptocurrency at some point.
On June 30, the FCA published the results of its latest study of how consumers interact with crypto markets in the United Kingdom. It found that 1.9 million people – 3.86% of the general adult population (18+) – currently own cryptocurrency.
This presents what the FCA considers to be a "statistically significant increase," an increase from 3% in the latest FCA consumer survey report in 2019.
The increase brings the total number of UK consumers who have ever had cryptocurrencies to a random point of 1.5 million to the current estimated figure of 2.6 million.
Aside from the clear upturn in crypto owners, industry awareness appears to be increasing – 73% of adults have heard of cryptocurrencies, compared to 42% last year.
The FCA's research shows that 75% of the 1.9 million that currently own crypto is worth less than £ 1,000 ($ 1,229). 83% of crypto owners purchase their assets through non-UK. based exchanges.
Overall, the level of technical knowledge and understanding of holders of the potential risks associated with a lack of protection and the volatility of assets is high, according to the FCA.
An exception is that 11% of current and former crypto holders mistakenly believe that their crypto assets are protected by consumer protection – about 300,000 people in total.
The FCA believes that these consumers are at risk of financial damage. At the same time, however, it also discovered that the most popular reason for UK consumers to buy crypto was 'a gamble that could make or lose money', with full awareness of the volatility in crypto markets.
Another important finding in the study is the apparent prevalence of crypto-related ads and their impact on consumer decisions.
45% of current and former holders said they had seen a crypto-related ad, of which 35% (400,000 people) said it made them more likely to buy crypto. In total, 16% of current and former crypto owners said they had been influenced by advertisements.
Summary of FCA study results, December 2019. Source: FCA
As reported earlier this week, the FCA has just released a detailed statement calling on all local crypto business operators to register with the authority today. The latest registration requirements come with a range of specific compliance measures, mainly in the areas of money laundering and counter-terrorism financing.
In its announcement today, the FCA noted that it is partnering with the government and Bank of England as part of the UK's Cryptoassets Taskforce to tackle crypto-related consumer risks and encourage innovation.
The UK government budget in March 2020 indicated that the government plans to discuss measures to potentially bring certain crypto assets under the scope of the financial promotions regulation.