Five Per Cent of Canadians Own Bitcoin

Discussions and headlines around cryptocurrency have waned over the past months, but many Canadians are still hanging—er, HODLing—onto their digital treasure trove.

Approximately five per cent of Canadians own bitcoin according to a recent staff analytical note titled Bitcoin Awareness and Usage in Canada: An Update, released by the Bank of Canada. It is an update of the results of the Bank’s 2017 Bitcoin Omnibus Survey (BTCOS) that took place from December 12 to 15, 2017.

From the time between the 2016 to the 2017 BTCOS, Canadian’s awareness of bitcoin raised 21 percent, with a total of 85 per cent of those surveyed being knowledgeable of the cryptocurrency. Over that same period, the percentage of Canadians owning bitcoin jumped from 2.9 per cent to five per cent. If that figure is applied to all of Canada, it would mean 1.85 million Canadians own bitcoin. On top of that, only half of those who own bitcoin actually use it to regularly buy goods or services, with the rest hanging onto it.

Another interesting note in the survey shows that Canadians own approximately 1.9 million bitcoins in total, an increase from the one million owned in 2016. That means Canadians own 11 per cent of all bitcoin as of the end of 2017. The Bank of Canada is quick to note that these figures are not statistically significant due to a large standard of error, but interesting nonetheless. Below is a chart showing how much bitcoin Canadians typically own.

bitcoin ownership

The difference in bitcoin ownership rates from 2016 to 2017 from those who were aware of the cryptocurrency did not change much, meaning that the increase in overall ownership was largely driven by newly-aware purchasers. The 18-to-24 age group saw the highest increase in ownership percentage, from six to 14 per cent.

The report goes on to further break down bitcoin statistics in Canada, noting that B.C. citizens were the most aware of the cryptocurrency, while those living in Quebec had the least awareness. In terms of gender splits, only two per cent of Canadian women own bitcoin, while 8.1 per cent of men do.

As a side note, the 2017 BTCOS, on which all of this information is based, asked Canadians about cryptocurrency during the height of the bitcoin fervor, as the digital currency hit a record high (close to $20,000 USD) in mid-December. However, despite the hype around bitcoin, this study asked respondents to answer knowledge-testing questions to see if they actually understood what bitcoin was, and how much they knew about it, which added a bit more transparency. Example questions include “The total supply of Bitcoin is fixed,” which is true, or “Bitcoin transactions take place instantaneously,” which is false.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, in general, has been in the news a lot in Canada. Late last year, it made its way into discussions about becoming a part of the Canada Pension Plan, while some provinces drive out cryptocurrency miners as others begin to welcome them. If five per cent of Canadians do in fact own bitcoin, then cryptocurrency will certainly remain in the news for a long time to come.