According to a new survey conducted by blockchain-oriented research firm Clovr, over half of all Americans believe cryptocurrencies should be treated like fiat in political elections.
To gauge the support for cryptocurrencies, the firm conducted a survey of 1,023 respondents who were all registered U.S. voters. The results show significant increases in public trust towards the industry since last year.
- Out of 1,023 eligible voters, 60% of eligible voters believe that “it should be legal to donate cryptocurrency in federal elections under the same rules that apply to donations in U.S. dollars.” Only 21% disagreed.
- 54% of all eligible voters believe cryptocurrencies to be safe enough to be used for political purposes. Only 26% disagreed.
- However, when asked “Is cryptocurrency financially stable enough to be used for political purposes?” less than a majority responded positively with 42% agreeing.
- Out of the sample size, 27% of Republicans, 25% of Democrats, and 22% of all independents consider themselves likely to contribute to political campaigns by donating cryptocurrencies.
- Republicans were more likely to support cryptocurrencies by, on average, more than 10 percentage points than Democrats.
The report also found that the individuals whose preference for fiat-only donations in both parties is dropping. In fact, 31% of the Democratic party would have no problem with donating cryptocurrency-only.
Online Donations on the Rise
With online giving and donations on the rise, now millions of dollars are donated through credit and debit cards. The reality of fundraising has changed and it seems that the public is open to allowing new models for political funding like cryptocurrency. As the report mentions:
“Recent statistics show voters who said they contributed to a political candidate within the past 12 months doubled from 6 percent to 12 percent from 1992 to 2016. In addition, most contributions were less than $100, which is one reason former presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-New Hampshire), raised millions of dollars online.”
It seems easy to imagine that this trend will continue and allow for cryptocurrencies to take their natural role in political fundraising efforts.
In 2014, the Federal Election Commission made a minor ruling on bitcoin and political campaigns. They ruled then that Bitcoin could be accepted as an “in-kind” contribution of up to $100. At that time, however, Bitcoin was only trading at some $440. What this means is that effectively, cryptocurrency donations are not even close on par with fiat currency recently. Under federal law, checks, cash, and credit cards are all allowed as valid forms of political donations. Other donations in the “in-kind” contributions category include subsidized rent, donated items, equipment, supplies, and other miscellaneous items. Currently, Bitcoin is considered on par with these minor items and, according to recent polling, something needs to change.
A Divided Public
Despite over half believing that cryptocurrencies should be allowed for political donations, there seems to also be a majority who believe that it would make foreign interference in elections more common. According to Clovr’s report, around 60% of their respondents felt that way.
Another issue is that most eligible voters still believe that cryptocurrencies make it more likely that funds will be used illegally in the political system, with 62% having such fears. Around the same amount also believed that politicians would take advantage of looser regulations on the cryptocurrency industry towards illegal ends.
What this means is that we are currently still not beyond the first hurdle for the cryptocurrency space. There seems to still exist an ignorance gap in the public. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies need to be explained as more secure than fiat because every transaction is able to be tracked and viewed on the blockchain. This advantage does not exist with fiat currency, especially cash, which can never be effectively tracked. Fiat leaves us with that ambiguity where we “don’t know” where the money; this could never happen with cryptocurrencies you cannot send it without it being on the public ledger.
Of course, basic KYC and AML procedures need to be baked into the technology, but the public’s distrust of cryptocurrencies means that we are not even in the first wave of adoption yet. However, as demonstrated by this survey, public perceptions are quickly changing and we could see a healthy majority support for cryptocurrencies in the short-term future of the United States.