60% of South Africans Are “Not Aware” of Cryptocurrencies, Study Shows

Francisco Memoria
  • A recently conducted survey shows most South Africans are "not aware" of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
  • It shows, however, that 38 percent of those who were aware wish they had invested in cryptocurrencies.

Financial services giant Old Mutual has recently published the 2018 Savings and Investment Monitor survey for South Africa, the continent’s second-biggest economy. Per its study, as much as 60 percent of South Africans revealed they’re unaware of cryptocurrencies.

About 19 percent of the country’s residents revealed they were aware of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, but had “just heard about it.” 17 percent knew “a bit,” while only 4 percent showed they knew a lot about cryptos.

Respondents’ sentiments towards cryptocurrencies showed that 53 percent did “not understand how they work,” while 71 percent believe it’s possible to “make a lot of money” with them. About 38 percent of respondents who were aware of cryptos noted they wish they had invested in them before.

Notably, 43 percent likened cryptocurrencies to a pyramid scheme, a number that may be influenced by news that revealed the country’s authorities were investigating an $80 million bitcoin Ponzi scheme that collapsed after its founder disappeared.

Old Mutual’s survey comes little over a week after Google Trends data showed South Africa has the highest worldwide interest for bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency. As CryptoGlobe covered earlier this month, the country has a well-established legal framework that governs the financial services industry.

Regulators in the country are aware poor regulations may stifle innovation, and as such haven’t been taking an aggressive approach. In April, the country was set to establish a self-regulatory unit to oversee the industry. At the time the central bank’s Director of Banking Practice, Bridget King, stated:

“Regulating cryptocurrencies prematurely could have the negative consequence of throttling the growth and innovation of the industry”

Bridget King

Nevertheless, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) revealed through an official statement that normal tax rules apply to cryptocurrencies. While the organization sees them as intangible assets and not currencies, taxpayers are expected to declare gains.

Recent crypto-related developments in the country include the launch of crypto exchange SygniaCoin, which is set to allow users to purchase cryptos with the Rand, South Africa’s fiat currency, and to base its rules and regulations on exchanges in New York.

Another cryptocurrency exchange, Coindirect, also recently launched trading pairs between the Rand and various top cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, litecoin, and Ripple’s XRP.