ING reveals crypto report: The utility phase
ING publishes crypto report ‘From cash to crypto: The money revolution’, conducted by Ipsos.
Amsterdam-headquartered ING hosted a breakfast round-table on 17 September 2019 in their London offices, which discussed the banking services’ yearly report on cryptocurrency and the latest trends. Here FinTech Future’s highlights the key takeaways and trends from its report.
The panel of speakers came to the same conclusion about the report, which surveyed 15,000 people in 15 different countries across Europe – until crypto is useful, mass adoption will not follow. Hence, crypto is still in a ‘utility phase’.
Speakers included Coinbase’s general counsel Marcus Hughes, ING’s lead economist Teunis Brosens and crypto author Glen Goodman, who were mediated by ING’s behavioural scientist and creator of the report, Jessica Exton.
One of the surveys reveals that 73% of people thought crypto was controlled by a central body or didn’t have any idea who controlled it.
Author Goodman puts the lack of education around crypto down to the absence of a “killer app”. He continues: “Until there is mass adoption of crypto, until that app comes along, crypto won’t be important or useful for people.”
Coinbase’s Hughes agrees, calling his company’s approach to crypto the ‘utility phase’, which involves asking itself: how is crypto useful today? “You have to view cryptocurrency as an evolution, it’s not going to just happen overnight,” says Hughes.
Earn, a Coinbase service which allows users to watch videos about crypto to earn more coins, is an example Hughes uses for how the company are educating people on crypto assets.
It shows that 40% of people in Europe oppose the idea of their banks taking up crypto.
Goodman immediately refutes the need for integration between old and new systems, because “young people don’t really care about the old financial world,” he says. “Young people trust challengers very quickly because there’s an ecosystem of trust around banks like Monzo from friends.”
For a crypto enthusiast like Goodman, the digital asset doesn’t need a relationship with an overarching body because it is built to be secure in its fundamental nature.
Although acknowledging the little time it takes to become a household name now, ING’s Brosens believes the introduction of intermediaries to crypto would work, even if it did then blur the difference between digital and physical currency.
News (33%) and online research (33%) are the two biggest sources of crypto knowledge for Europeans, meaning it is still not a hot topic at home or at the pub. This could suggest a lack of trust surrounding a topic which is yet to see regulation.
Brosens says “to have a future, embracing regulation is the way forward for crypto”. He also points out the risk unregulated crypto clients create for banks today.
Hughes highlights the efforts of Japan and Switzerland, who are embracing crypto regulation. He also mentions that Coinbase is in the process of securing a licence in Japan.
A real financial alternative for some
A staggering 63% of people with a minimal knowledge of crypto in Turkey said they wanted their banks to offer current accounts in crypto, and 62% said they were positive about the future use of crypto.
Goodman notes this is “because Turkey is seriously worried about its own currency”. In other words, because there is a need, there is also an interest in crypto.
In emerging markets, banks will be more open to it because they aren’t as dependent on the dollar, says Brosens.
In Venezuela, Coinbase has been giving out crypto to communities, getting stores to accept the digital asset and help boost the economy.
One of the speakers asked if people would send money to friends and family using social media. Again, Turkey was the highest by far, with 43% saying they would. The report was, however, conducted before Libra was announced, so some of the other results are likely to have already changed, perhaps even increased.
Goodman can’t see the likes of Western Union surviving if Libra do get regulatory approval, saying it will be “vapourised” along with all other crypto currencies.
For Brosens, Libra has nothing to do with crypto. It’s more similar to a way to pay than a Bitcoin.
Other topics in the report include:
The correlation between knowledge of crypto and confidence in crypto. It seems the more people know, the less confidence they have in it. The report shows that 45% of people with ‘medium’ knowledge liked the idea of crypto, but only 32% of people with ‘high’ knowledge liked it.
Cash is still king. ING’s research shows that people’s dependency on cash has only dwindled a few percent since 2017, remaining relatively stable.