Canadian crypto ownership declined amid tight regulations, falling prices

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The Bank of Canada (BOC) reported a decline in the ownership of Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies in the country last year as neither market conditions nor regulations sided in the favor of Canadian crypto investors, according to a BOC study published last week.

The annual Bitcoin Omnibus Survey (BTCOS) conducted by the Canadian central bank showed a relapse from the massive crypto adoption witnessed in 2021.

Bitcoin awareness and ownership in Canada, 2016 to 2022. Source: Bank of Canada

The above graph shows that — halfway into 2022 — Bitcoin ownership in Canada declined to 9% by August. Although BTC adoption saw a slight uptick to 10% by the end of the year. However, the drop in Bitcoin ownership does not imply that investors were spreading out their investments into other cryptocurrencies. The report read:

“Investors did not appear to shift out of Bitcoin and into other cryptoassets, as we observe decreased ownership of altcoins.”

The biggest motivation for Canadians interested in Bitcoin is an investment — as showcased by the choice of over one-third of the 4,996 respondents in the BOC survey.

Percentage of Canadians who own Bitcoin, 2016 to 2022. Source: Bank of Canada

Most Canadians acquired their crypto holdings through mobile and web apps. Bitcoin and crypto mining became the third-most-popular method of accumulating tokens for the second consecutive year.

When it comes to the altcoin ecosystem, Dogecoin (DOGE) was the most sought-after crypto investment considering the Elon Musk-induced hype and its history of randomly skyrocketing in price. Ether (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC) were some of the other popular altcoins for Canadians.

Related: Parliamentary report recommends Canada recognize, strategize about blockchain industry

According to the BOC, the research is relevant for monitoring the two conditions that could warrant the issuance of an in-house central bank digital currency (CBDC): “if Canadians almost or do stop using cash, or if Canadians widely adopt and use private cryptocurrencies for payments.”

BOC highlighted that ecosystem collapses, along with regulatory hurdles and price depreciation contributed to the decline in crypto ownership. However, considering the government’s intent to provide regulatory clarity combined with a stable market, the crypto ownership in the region is expected to pick up as well.

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