HKUST Releases Survey Findings on Public Attitudes Towards Virtual Assets | The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

October 17, 2023

This is one of the major findings of a two-phase survey released today by HKUST Business School. The two-phase survey is aimed to gauge public attitudes and views in Hong Kong on topics related to VA investment, including investment experience and intentions, and regulatory safeguards. “We hope that the findings in the survey can offer industry stakeholders more perspectives on the development of a robust virtual asset sector in Hong Kong. About the HKUST Business SchoolThe School of Business and Management of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST Business School) is young, innovative and committed to advancing global business knowledge. For more details about the School, please visit https://bm.hkust.edu.hkAbout The Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyThe Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (https://hkust.edu.hk/) is a world-class research intensive university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science.

The School of Business and Management of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST Business School) found that 41 percent of Hong Kong people prefer not to hold virtual assets (VAs) Note 1, up by 12 percentage points from a previous survey, in the aftermath of an alleged financial fraud that involved a cryptocurrency platform in mid September.

This is one of the major findings of a two-phase survey released today by HKUST Business School. According to the survey findings, about 20 percent respondents say they would like to hold VAs in the future, down by five percentage points compared with one conducted months before the financial incident.

The two-phase survey is aimed to gauge public attitudes and views in Hong Kong on topics related to VA investment, including investment experience and intentions, and regulatory safeguards. A total of 5,700 people aged 18 or above responded to the first four-week-long survey conducted between April 24 and May 23. To reassess citizens’ views after the recent financial incident, a second-phase survey was launched on September 28, which will end on October 20. A total of 2,200 people responded as at October 5. Note 2

Results of the survey show about 84% of respondents say they have heard of VAs before. Of them, only about 27% currently hold or have previously held VAs. The top three channels that respondents ranked as most important for receiving information about VAs are “other online resources” such as websites, blogs, podcasts, videos (23%); social media (21%) and traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, televisions (18%).

Commenting on the survey findings, Prof. Allen HUANG, Associate Dean of the HKUST Business School, said the recent financial incident has drawn more public attention on VAs and regulatory issues, and led to a more conservative investment appetite. “Virtual assets are an emerging asset class with potential to spur innovation and growth in the financial sector. Market incidents in Hong Kong and overseas show that they also entail significant risks and challenges for investors and regulators.”

Results of the April-May survey show cryptoexchange (61%) is selected most by respondents as the medium to hold VAs. The most popular type of VAs that respondents are interested in holding is Bitcoin (73%), followed by NFTs (24%) and Ether (21%).

A majority, or over 80%, of respondents who want to invest in VAs say they will invest HK$50,000 or less. When investing in VAs, respondents prefer directly owning tokens and investing in ETFs over investing in derivatives based on VAs or in companies that operate in the crypto space.

On regulating VAs, about 57% of the respondents in the second-phase survey say they are  aware that the regulatory authorities in Hong Kong will require VA asset service providers including cryptoexchanges to get a license for operating in Hong Kong. It represents an increase of 15 percentage points compared with the first-phase survey.

Over half of the respondents in both phases of the survey agreed with the statement that virtual assets traded on HK-licensed exchanges are approved by regulators. The finding shows a common misconception among the general public.

Prof. Huang said virtual assets are part of Hong Kong's strategy to drive FinTech development. “We hope that the findings in the survey can offer industry stakeholders more perspectives on the development of a robust virtual asset sector in Hong Kong. As virtual assets become increasingly a part of the digital economy, more educational initiatives are needed to enhance public understanding and awareness of the risks and potentials of this emerging field.”

 

Notes:

1. Virtual assets refer to digital representations of value which may be in the form of digital tokens (such as utility tokens, stablecoins or security- or asset-backed tokens) or any other virtual commodities, crypto assets or other assets of essentially the same nature.

2. Since the second-phase survey runs until 20 October, the findings quoted in this press release are based on data up to 5 October. 

About the HKUST Business School

The School of Business and Management of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST Business School) is young, innovative and committed to advancing global business knowledge. The School has forged an international reputation for world class education programs and research performance, and has received many top global rankings. For more details about the School, please visit https://bm.hkust.edu.hk

About The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (https://hkust.edu.hk/) is a world-class research intensive university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science. HKUST offers an international campus, and a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy to nurture well-rounded graduates with global vision, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking. Over 80% of our research work were rated “Internationally excellent” or “world leading” in the Research Assessment Exercise 2020 of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee. We were ranked 2nd in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings 2023, and our graduates were ranked 30th worldwide and among the best from universities from Asia in Global Employability University Ranking and Survey 2022. As of September 2023, HKUST members have founded 1,747 active start-ups, including 9 Unicorns and 13 exits (IPO or M&A), generating economic impact worth over HK$ 400 billion. InvestHK cited QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 to demonstrate the performance of five world’s top 100 local universities in several innovation-centric areas, among which HKUST ranked top in four engineering and materials science subjects.

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