Cryptocurrency Awareness in Malaysia 2020

by Erina Azmi

Hey there Geckos!

As the world’s leading independent cryptocurrency data aggregator, CoinGecko has always examined the global cryptocurrency market. However, this time around we decided to point the magnifying glass at our home country, Malaysia, to gauge an understanding of the local market. 

There is growing interest in “mata wang kripto” (cryptocurrency) in Malaysia - especially with Bitcoin’s price now nearing its All-Time-High of RM80,244 (US$19,665) and Year-to-Date return of 145% (as of 17th November 2020).  We saw this as a great opportunity to understand the cryptocurrency awareness and usage amongst Malaysians, including their holdings, preferred exchange platforms, and their perception of the cryptocurrency market.

For our study, we recently conducted a survey with 414 Malaysians, and here are our 5 key takeaways from the findings!


1. While 30% of Malaysians are aware of cryptocurrencies, only 5% own at least one cryptocurrency 

Out of 414 respondents, we found that only a third of Malaysians are aware of cryptocurrencies (29%) but those that hold at least one cryptocurrency make up less than 5%. This gap between awareness and holdings may be the result of a lack of education on the cryptocurrency sector.

2. 45% of respondents view Bitcoin as just a currency but 8% still view it as a scam or fraud 

We found that almost half of the respondents have a neutral perception of Bitcoin because they view it as just a currency.  We noted there is still a fraction of them (8%) that perceive it to be a scam or fraudulent. We don’t find this surprising as there have been many past incidents involving Bitcoin, including the recent 14 arrests made by the local police for involvement in a series of cryptocurrency investment scams in April 2020.

3. 56% of Malaysian crypto users use Luno as their preferred platform while more than 20% prefer international exchanges as more trading pairs are available 

With regards to cryptocurrency exchanges, we found that more than half of our Malaysian respondents prefer to trade cryptocurrencies with Ringgit on all of the licensed exchanges (Luno, Tokenize, and Sinegy) approved by the local watchdog, Securities Commission, with Luno as the top choice.

However, up to 20% of Malaysians prefer to trade on international platforms such as Binance and Huobi as they provide more trading pairs (almost 900 pairs in each exchange) compared to the local ones.

4. More than 57% of users do their research via social media, especially Facebook and YouTube 

In terms of researching cryptocurrency, social media appears to be the most popular venue, especially Facebook and Youtube. The finding is not surprising as Facebook and Youtube are the top-3 most active social media used by Malaysians (MCMC Internet Survey). However, this does not account for the quality of information they receive because it is not vetted and filtered by the respective platforms.

5. Most Malaysians are not financially resourceful as seen by almost 40% of respondents not investing at all or relying on fixed deposits as their primary investment 

Although a majority of the respondents have savings, barely 40% of them reinvest it.  Most rely on fixed deposits as a passive investment. We found that only 10% of the respondents invested in cryptocurrencies. This suggests that Malaysians are inclined more towards saving instead of investing.


Overall, our findings suggest that awareness and adoption of cryptocurrency are still relatively low in Malaysia. Interestingly, despite regulation on cryptocurrency trading by the Securities Commission, some locals still carry a negative perception, suggesting that there is room for more education.

Malaysians also tend to research more through social media sources rather than official sources, which may be natural as the country has one of the highest social media penetration (81%). On the flipside, this may also indicate that Malaysian investors are generally more casual and do less research prior to investing.

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Erina Azmi

Erina Azmi

Erina is CoinGecko’s market research analyst. Current expertise is finance and crypto - DeFi. Previously in research consulting and often did market analysis.

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