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Who Are The Bitcoin Users?

Who Are The Bitcoin Users?

With the recent collapse of the Mt Gox online exchange site that handled a small percentage of Bitcoin, the world’s attention has focused on the online currency again.  There is an extremely large and growing base of consumers who are turning to bitcoin usage, which has many viewers who are interested in learning more asking the question “exactly who are the people using bitcoin?”

An online poll from the group Simulacrum has yielded the following results.  The average bitcoin user is a 32.1 year old, white male who is most likely registered as a Libertarian.  The statistics farmed from the poll shows that most bitcoin users are male (about 95%) and the majority of the group considers itself non-religious (61%.)  Additionally, roughly 44% consider themselves “libertarian and anarcho-capitalist.”  The major political view that unites most bitcoin users is that it operates independently of economic markets and individual country’s governmental systems.  It is a true, universal currency.

One of the main questions from these findings is why this particular demographic makes up so much of the overall percentage of bitcoin users? The answer is not surprising in that in order to fully utilize the system that bitcoin operates within, one must be relatively wealthy, due to the fact that you must be able to purchase a sometimes expensive currency and also be able to factor a certain amount of speculation into the transaction in that bitcoin is not fully accepted and recognized.  On top of these facts is that the process of “mining bitcoins” involves knowledge of coding and decryption as well as how to use currency exchanges.  When these factors are added up they point squarely to a single demographic as the majority, computer literate, wealthy, young, white men.

Is this type of gravitation to an alternative currency by a specific demographic shocking to you?  It shouldn’t be if you consider that many other groups utilize the same mentality with regards to currency, and many times they actually embody the polar opposite of the typical bitcoin user.  The term “unbanked” describes people who rely on informal transactions and systems of borrowing capital instead of the more formalized versions that the majority of the population utilizes.  Mainly describing demographics involving women and people of color, “unbanked” people gravitate towards services like payday loans and check cashing services in order to operate outside of the standardized banking systems and keep the majority of their capital in the form of cash.  They spend upwards of 10% of their income (roughly $2,400 of their yearly revenue) specifically to avoid the traditional forms of banking.

While comparisons between the groups are overshadowed by their differences, with bitcoin users completely rejecting the traditional currency systems and others simply being shut out of it.  The differences are largely because bitcoin users have the luxury of rejecting a government system entirely while others are reliant upon government roles in banking systems in order to assist them in overcoming bias.  Being reliant upon governmental institutions compromises the ability to envision a legitimate system without government at the center of it, even if certain steps are taken to remove certain traditional aspects that are not trusted.  Bitcoin users generally feel that they themselves can operate and succeed without governmental regulation and intervention.

Acceptance of any system by the wealthy, powerful and politically influential people will do more for it’s promotion than any advertising campaign or mass media push.  As more and more people of means gravitate towards a system that is considered “outside the bounds” the more solid it becomes as the financial backing and self-regulation removes uncertainty from the discussion.  The leaders are doing it, why shouldn’t the rest of the population get on board.