When Tony Richards, Head of Payments Policy at the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), read the results of the recent Finder Crypto Report survey that said nearly one in five Australians owned cryptocurrency, he didn’t believe it for a bit. second.
However, the results had already been published widely across the country, making headlines for weeks. They even made it to the recent Senate Committee on Australia as a final report from the Finance and Technology Center in October.
Welcome to the statistically dubious world of cryptocurrency surveys – an easy way for businesses to get publicity by promoting survey results, but not necessarily a great way to stay informed.
The searcher poll August stated that 17% of Australians own at least one cryptocurrency: 9% own Bitcoin, 8% own Ether, and 5% own Dogecoin.
Is the figure plausible?
Richards called these figures in question in his speech to the Australian Corporate Treasury Association on 18 November, saying that he finds them “somewhat implausible”.
“I can’t help but think that the online surveys they are based on might not be representative of the population,” he said.
The head of payments policy at the Reserve Bank of Australia, Tony Richards, said that the growth of cryptocurrencies in 2021 was “undoubtedly driven by influencers and celebrity tweets.”
– CoinzProfit (@CoinzProfit) November 19, 2021
He referenced “important segments of the population,” including the elderly, people living in regional areas, and those without reliable Internet access, that online survey panels “don’t capture well.”
His point echoes a similar sentiment outlined by Dr. Chittaranjan Andrade in his 2020. report for the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, where it states that online survey samples are often not representative, regardless of topic.
Online surveys are completed only by people who “are biased enough to be interested in the topic; Why else would they take the time and trouble to respond? ” he wrote.
But the Head of Consumer Research at Finder, Graham Cooke defended the methodology, telling Cointelegraph:
“Respondents are selected based on age, gender and location to create a sample that accurately reflects the results that would be expected from a full national survey.”
“We are confident that this produces a reliable and representative sample of the population,” he added.
In the 15-page report summarizing the survey results, there are only a few lines at the end to explain the methodology / It says: “Finder’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker is an ongoing nationally representative survey of 1,000 Australians each month, with more than 27,400 respondents between May 2019 and July 2021 ”.
The survey is conducted by Qualtrics, a data processing products and systems applications (SAP) company. Qualtrics website boast, “In just ten weeks, Finder increased brand awareness by 23 percent,” but there was no additional information regarding the survey methodology and did not provide any at the request of Cointelegraph.
A Finder spokesperson was able to confirm to Cointelegraph that “Qualtrics collects respondents from various panels and can be incentivized in different ways. Some are paid a small fee for their participation, others earn a charitable donation, for example. “
Different surveys have estimates separated by 2 million people
It’s not about highlighting the Finder poll for a particular review – there seems to be a new poll every day, and your findings are often at odds with each other.
Take the YouGov poll commissioned by Australian crypto exchange Swyftx, which found that the number of Australians owning crypto is closer to 25%. The July survey collected responses from 2,768 adult Australians, and the figures were weighted using estimates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This survey was found comply with the Australian Elections Council Code.
However, both surveys cannot be correct. Australia’s population is 25.69 million. This means that 17% of Finder’s Australian population is roughly 4.37 million people. Meanwhile, 25% of Swyftx is about 6.42 million people.
The difference between the two estimates translates to just over two million people, more than the total population of South Australia.
The numbers don’t seem to be reflected on local platforms either. Crypto trading platform Binance Australia told Cointelegraph it had 700,000 users, Easy Crypto Australia said it had around 15,000 users, Swyftx has 470,000 users (many from overseas). BTC Markets has more than 330,000 Australian users and the Independent Reserve site claims 200,000 users.
Digital Surge, eToro, Coinspot, and Coinmama did not respond with user numbers.
Not all Australians use a local exchange to trade their crypto, of course, but on the other hand, a significant proportion of users are subscribed to multiple local exchanges. There seems to be a mismatch of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, between the survey results and the exchange accounts.
That said, Jonathon Miller, Australian managing director of Kraken Exchange, said his platform presented similar figures to Finder at YouGov’s market research in May.
The sample in that survey included 1,027 Australians over the age of 18, data weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
It found that one in five (19%) Australians have owned or currently own a cryptocurrency, and 14% (2.78 million) currently have a portfolio of cryptocurrencies.
Speaking to the Finder poll, Miller said: “I don’t think it’s that far off. The point is, these polls are probably representative. ”
“If those numbers aren’t exactly correct today, they will be tomorrow. I think it is true that one in five Australians has crypto. ”
How many BTC do I need to pay you to say you trust BTC?
One problem that could be affecting the results of surveys related to cryptocurrencies is that respondents in some of these surveys are paid in crypto.
On November 18, a Premise Data poll of 11,000 participants in 76 countries stated that 41% of people globally trust Bitcoin (BTC) over local currencies.
The trick was, a poll of Premise’s “contributors” two months earlier reported that 23% of their contributor base has been paid in BTC, and since 2016, the data collection company has paid more than $ 1 million in Bitcoin through Coinbase to survey participants in 137 countries globally.
Melbourne Institute for Applied Economic and Social Research lead researcher Nicole Watson told Cointelegraph that “paying someone with Bitcoin to complete a survey on cryptocurrencies would skew the result.”
“People who know what Bitcoin is and want something would be more likely to participate,” he said. In short, they will not be a reflection of the general population.
Cointelegraph reached out to Premise about its survey methodology, but received no response.
What Makes a Survey Reliable?
In Watson’s view, online-only surveys are not representative of the general population.
“Recruiting a sample online can skew the sample towards people who spend more time online, visit certain websites or use certain applications, depending on where the invitation to participate was placed and who might see it.”
He explained that someone’s participation in a survey could be influenced by who is running it, what it is about, how long it will take, and what incentives (if any) are offered, all of which can skew the results.
“For a new technology like cryptocurrency, you can see how many of these factors could lead to a skewed result.”
For research conducted in Australia, a good way to know if the findings are reliable is to check whether an “Australian Polling Council Quality Mark” has been issued. In the UK, you can see if the survey company is a member of the British Polling Council (PCB) and in the United States the National Council of Public Surveys.
The Survey Council of Australia He says that any survey or poll worth its weight should include an “extensive methodology statement,” including additional information such as weighting methods, effective sample size, and margin of error.