The US, Europe, and Australia are set to witness the public interest in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin more than double in future, a survey by ING's eZonomics think tank showed.

Only 9 percent of Europeans surveyed currently own cryptocurrencies, but another 16 percent expect to possess them in the future, the "Cracking the code on cryptocurrency" part of ING's international survey on mobile banking revealed.

The survey was carried out among nearly 15,000 people across 13 countries in Europe, the US, and Australia.

Countries surveyed in Europe were Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Given that a third of those in Europe have not yet heard of cryptocurrency, the growth potential could be even higher, ING said.

In the US, 8 percent of those surveyed currently own cryptocurrencies and another 13 percent expect to have them in future. In Australia, the respective ratios were 7 percent and 8 percent.

"The volatility of cryptocurrency carries with it both positives and negatives; on the plus side it can increase awareness but may also mean people view digital money as a relatively risky asset," Jessica Exton, behavioral scientist at ING, said.

"If cryptocurrency stabilizes there may be increased interest."

The potential growth in cryptocurrency use could be due to a gradual change in attitudes around online spending with 35 percent in Europe thinking that digital currencies are the future of spending online and that is up seven percentage points from 2015, the survey found.

That said, the volatility and relative infancy of digital currencies mean many are risk-averse when it comes to using cryptocurrencies for longer term transactions.

Nearly a half of Europeans said they do not want to change the way they pay, and some were comfortable to use cryptocurrencies as payment for one-off transactions and purchases.

While 30 percent said they were consider using cryptos as payment for international purchases online, only 15 percent were comfortable with the idea of receiving their take-home pay in Bitcoin and its peers.

The survey also found that 35 percent of Europeans expect the value of digital currencies to increase in the next 12 months and 32 percent each saw them as the future of investment.

Meanwhile, Europeans largely perceived investment in cryptocurrencies as more risky than in other asset types. The survey showed that 46 percent thought putting their money in the share market was less risky and 29 percent said they would never invest in digital currencies.

Those who may invest in cryptocurrencies would do so only with the guidance from specialist websites or a financial advisor, the survey showed.

by Jyotsna V

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