2.6 million UK consumers purchase cryptoassets

An estimated 2.6 million UK consumers have bought cryptoassets at some point, according to new research published by the FCA.

The regulator suggested the number marks a 1.1 million increase since it completed a face-to-face survey on the same topic last year. Of the 1.9 million that still hold their cryptoassets – such as Bitcoin, Ripple or Ether – half hold more than £260.

The FCA has previously warned that cryptoassets are “highly volatile and risky”, with many not currently regulated in the UK. The transfer, purchase or sale of such tokens would currently fall outside the FCA’s regulatory remit, leaving customers unable to make complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service or seek protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

The new research, which was conducted online by YouGov and saw a total of 2,681 participants questioned, formed part of the FCA’s work alongside the Government and Bank of England to understand attitudes towards cryptoassets.

The FCA revealed that its other key findings suggested the majority of cryptoasset owners are “generally knowledgeable” about the product, are “aware” of the lack of regulatory protection afforded, and “understand the risk” of price volatility. 

The research, however, suggested an estimated 300,000 cryptoasset owners believe they have protection, which the regulator indicated leaves them at potential risk of financial harm. The FCA also stated that of those who purchase cryptoassets, 83% do so through non-UK based exchanges.

FCA interim executive director of strategy and competition, Sheldon Mills, commented: “This FCA report reveals the increasing popularity of cryptoassets among the UK consumer population and underlines the importance of our work to gain a deeper understanding of this market and how people interact with these assets.

“Cryptoassets present risks and opportunities for consumers and we hope these insights will help inform the policy debate in the UK and internationally as the use of these assets continue to grow.”

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