There’s a significant knowledge gap when it comes to cryptocurrencies in the United States. While 71 percent of people in the US have heard of bitcoin, according to a recent survey by polling group YouGov, very few have heard of any other cryptocurrency, including the two coins that currently have 11-digit market caps.
Those two coins are Ethereum and Ripple (XRP), which as of this writing boast over $22 billion and $11 billion market caps, respectively. Yet, after bitcoin, only 13 percent of those surveyed were aware of Ethereum, while just seven percent knew about Ripple. Eleven percent of those surveyed had caught wind of Litecoin and 10 percent of Dash.
Then came Dogecoin. More survey respondents have heard of the cryptocurrency influenced by a 2013 Shiba Inu meme than Ripple, a payment protocol that originated from an online money transfer network that launched back in 2005. This may come down to branding—an internet meme, by definition, has a wide reach, perhaps causing mainstream online media to shower disproportionate attention on the Doge-inspired coin.
Of the 79 percent of US adults who’d heard of at least one cryptocurrency, comparatively few have gotten involved with them. Just nine percent of those who know about bitcoin have purchased some, while only five percent have sold or mined the cryptocurrency, respectively. Those percentages go up when it comes to lesser-known coins. People who knew about Ethereum and Litecoin were more likely to have purchased some, though buying exceeded selling rates, pointing toward a tendency for Ethereum and Litecoin owners to hold onto their coins.
With Dash and Zcash, activity leaned toward selling. Both Dash and Zcash are known as “privacy coins,” meaning that transactions between users obscure the link between buyer and seller. Seven percent of those who’ve heard of Zcash (all 36 of those surveyed) bought some while 19 percent sold some, and 14 percent of the 100 respondents who knew about Dash bought some, while 21 percent sold. How can someone sell a coin without buying it? Someone else must have paid them with it, suggesting the possibility of users hawking clandestine goods.
Clandestine, however, does not mean illegal—which seems to be a common stigma surrounding cryptocurrency (at least among Caucasian US adults).
All this should be taken with a grain of salt. YouGov only surveyed 1,202 adults in the US (aged 18 plus) during two days in August. Maybe more people know about Ripple than we think—they were just on vacation from August 29 to 30.