On Thursday, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) published the results of a survey titled "Taking Caution: Financial Consumers and the Cryptoasset Sector," which detail the commission's findings regarding Ontario residents' knowledge of cryptocurrencies (which the report refers to as "cryptoassets").
The report asserts that Ontarians are cautious about crypto; only a small percentage of residents own cryptocurrencies and many individuals are confused about their regulation, such as through token generation events (like ICOs). In fact, the OSC reports that only five percent of Ontarians own cryptocurrencies and four percent previously owned some.
The OSC conducted its survey among a sample of 2,667 Ontarians aged 18 or older. Five percent of respondents were very familiar with them (that is, these individuals could explain the details of crypto to other people), 25 percent were somewhat familiar, 52 percent had heard of them, and 11 percent had not heard of them at all. Out of all cryptocurrencies, bitcoin was by far the most recognizable, as 81 percent of respondents had heard of it.
The OSC then asked the respondents to review six basic true-or-false statements about cryptocurrencies:
According to the results, 34 percent of respondents overall gave correct responses to four or more of the statements, but only three percent correctly answered all six statements. However, of cryptocurrency owners, 72 percent provided correct responses to four or more of the statements, and 15 percent answered all six statements correctly.
The survey also notes that a "surprising number of cryptoasset owners (16 per cent) incorrectly agreed with the statement that 'Bitcoin is backed by the government,'" which indicates a lack of knowledge about cryptocurrency regulation among participants. Additionally, the results reveal that there is not a clear consensus regarding where cryptocurrency buyers would go to, should they run into any crypto-related issues:
The study also found that 67 percent of respondents did not know who was responsible for ICO regulation; in fact, many believed that ICOs did not need to be regulated at all. This information concerns the OSC because the commission itself is responsible for regulating ICOs when they constitute securities offerings.
On June 11, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), which the OSC is part of, published Staff Notice 46-308, "Securities Law Implications for Offerings of Tokens." The notice provides guidance to businesses that are looking to offer digital tokens to the public. The CSA released a previous notice last year that provided similar guidance to businesses. In May, the OSC also joined Operation Cryptosweep, which is an investigative effort among various US states and Canadian provinces to crack down on cryptocurrency investment scams.
Overall, the OSC concluded that "while many Ontarians are aware of and have some knowledge of cryptoassets, there remains a need for educational materials on this rapidly evolving sector."
Of course, the survey's sample size only represents a fraction of Ontario's population, but the OSC maintains its concern. "[The respondents] nonetheless collectively translate into tens of thousands of Ontarians taking significant, highly risky bets on cryptoassets," the survey states.
It appears that there is a disconnect between general knowledge of cryptocurrencies and their actual implementation. Perhaps increased educational offerings, as the survey suggests, could help spread awareness.