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Who Invests in Bitcoin? The Answer Might Surprise You

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® - Jul 25, 2019 at 9:46AM

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The average investor interested in bitcoin might not be exactly who you think.

There are several common perceptions about investors in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. For example, bitcoin investors are generally thought of as younger people and as a very small subset of the population.

In order to get a better idea of who is interested in and investing in bitcoin, Grayscale recently commissioned a survey. Conducted by Q8 Research, this survey asked 1,100 U.S. investors between the ages of 25 and 64 about bitcoin, and some of the results are surprising.

Stacks of gold coins with bitcoin symbol.

Image source: Getty Images.

One-third of U.S. investors are interested in bitcoin

The survey found that over one-third (36%) of U.S. investors would consider an investment in bitcoin, which roughly translates to 21 million people. There are a few potential reasons for this -- in addition to its use as a speculative instrument or as a long-term store of value, bitcoin is often seen as a way to diversify a portfolio, as its price movements are not closely correlated with the stock market.

To clarify, this isn't to say that 21 million Americans actually own bitcoin. This is simply the group of people who would consider an investment in the digital currency.

Bitcoin investors aren't as young as you might think

The average investor is 45 years old, and the average investor interested in bitcoin is 42. This is in contrast to the common misperception that bitcoin is popular only among millennials and other younger investors.

Looking a little deeper into the demographics reveals more surprising data. Investors interested in bitcoin are actually slightly more likely to identify as Republican than the average investor, and have a similar income distribution to the average investor.

One area that does conform to the common perception is that men are more likely to be interested in bitcoin than women. While the overall investor base surveyed was 49% men and 51% women, men made up 57% of those who said they were interested in bitcoin.

Bitcoin investors have a thirst for financial news

The 1,100 investors surveyed were asked about 28 different financial news outlets in print, online, and TV formats, and all 28 are more likely to be read or watched by investors interested in bitcoin. Using our own website as an example, 25% of bitcoin-interested investors say that they read content on The Motley Fool (Hi, Fools!). Among the general investing public, that number is 13%.

Investors interested in bitcoin are also likely to be interested in gold

Here's one that isn't too surprising. Bitcoin is often referred to as "digital gold," as many people who own bitcoin see it more as a store of value than as a payment mechanism.

Grayscale's survey found that 55% of investors believe gold is a good investment. If you narrow the pool to investors who are interested in bitcoin, this jumps to 69%.

Why are 64% of investors not interested in bitcoin?

Although 36% of investors with interest in bitcoin could be a surprisingly high number to many people, that still leaves 64% of the investor population uninterested in owning the digital currency. This breaks down to the 30% of investors who say that they're neutral and the 34% who specify that they aren't interested in buying bitcoin as an investment.

When asked about their top concerns, many investors agreed on some factors that may be keeping them out of the cryptocurrency market:

  • Digital crime: 75% of investors say that this is their top fear. This is certainly a fair concern, as there have been some high-profile hacks of bitcoin exchanges in the news.
  • Lack of regulation in the cryptocurrency market: 65% find this a major concern.
  • Lack of information: 89% of investors say that they'd be more likely to invest in bitcoin if they knew more about it. In other words, many don't feel they are well educated on bitcoin relative to more common investments like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

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