Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, recently revealed that he has invested in cryptocurrency. And he's not the only wealthy American who has -- 68% of high-net-worth adults do, according to a recent Motley Fool survey. That's about 4.7 million Americans, each with a net worth of at least $1 million, who have invested in crypto.
Why have more than two-thirds of American millionaires invested in cryptocurrency?
Most believe it will generate strong returns and that it's a hedge against inflation. A majority of millionaire cryptocurrency investors see it as a safe store of value or believe in the underlying philosophy of crypto, as well.
High-net-worth crypto investors also believe that cryptocurrency is going to the moon and maybe further. Two-thirds have at least half of their portfolio in cryptocurrency and a similar percentage say cryptocurrency will make up a larger share of their portfolio in the next five years.
But not all American millionaires are on board with crypto.
Read on for a deep dive into how high-net-worth investors are approaching cryptocurrency, including what they're buying, how long they hold, and what keeps some of them away from the crypto scene.
- 68% of high-net-worth individuals -- roughly 4.7 million Americans, each with a net worth of at least $1 million -- own cryptocurrency.
- Two-thirds of American millionaires who own cryptocurrency believe it will generate strong returns, 60% see it as a safe store of value, and 61% believe in the underlying philosophy of crypto.
- Bitcoin is owned by 60% of high-net-worth individuals that have invested in cryptocurrency, while 55% own Ethereum.
- 86% of high-net-worth cryptocurrency owners have invested in a memecoin like Dogecoin or Shiba Inu.
- 71% of high-net-worth cryptocurrency owners would use a credit card that offered cryptocurrency rewards and 58% would use a bank account that stores cryptocurrency.
- Two out of three millionaire cryptocurrency investors have at least half of their portfolio in cryptocurrency.
- 59% of high-net-worth individuals who own cryptocurrency expect to allocate more of their portfolio to it over the next five years.
- 81% of high-net-worth individuals who own cryptocurrency are likely to buy more in the next year. 50% of those that don't own cryptocurrency are likely to buy in the next year as well.
- Lack of education about cryptocurrency is seen as the biggest barrier to investment by high-net-worth individuals.
Two-thirds of American millionaires hold cryptocurrency in search of strong returns
68% of high-net-worth individuals (those with a net worth of $1 million or more), about 4.7 million Americans, own cryptocurrency.
The most cited reason for investing in cryptocurrency is a belief that cryptocurrency will generate strong returns.
About 60% of American millionaire crypto investors bought cryptocurrency because they believe it's a safe store of value. A similar percentage invested because they believe in the underlying philosophy of cryptocurrency, such as decentralized finance.
Just over 50% of high-net-worth individuals that have invested in cryptocurrency cited its potential to be a hedge against inflation.
|Reason to invest in cryptocurrency||Percentage of millionaire crypto investors|
|I believe it will generate strong returns||65.79%|
|I believe in the underlying philosophy of cryptocurrency (e.g., decentralized finance)||61.09%|
|I believe it is a safe store of value||60.28%|
|I believe it is a hedge against inflation||52.20%|
Bitcoin and Ethereum are the most popular cryptocurrencies among millionaires
Roughly 60% of high-net-worth individuals that have invested in cryptocurrency own Bitcoin and 56% own Ethereum. These are the two largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization.
Millionaires have branched out beyond mainstream cryptocurrencies. Dogecoin is owned by 48% of millionaire cryptocurrency investors, making it the third-most popular cryptocurrency among this group.
Roughly one-third own Shiba Inu. A similar percentage own other non-meme cryptocurrencies, like Tether, Cardano, and Solana.
|Coin owned||Percentage of millionaire crypto investors|
86% of millionaires who own cryptocurrency have purchased a memecoin like Dogecoin or Shiba Inu
More evidence for high-net-worth cryptocurrency investors' willingness to ride the memecoin craze is the fact that 86% of those who own cryptocurrency have at one point purchased a memecoin like Dogecoin or Shiba Inu.
The key difference between memecoins and more mainstream cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum is that memecoins have little real-world utility. Non-memecoins were developed to solve actual problems. Some memecoins, like Squid coin, have turned out to be outright crypto scams, with the creators of the cryptocurrency making off with $3.4 million while investors were left with nothing but losses.
|Have you ever purchased a "memecoin" (e.g., Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, Squid)?||Percentage of millionaire crypto investors|
Most high-net-worth cryptocurrency owners aren't fazed by recent scams
Cryptocurrency scams have made some millionaire investors, particularly those that don't own cryptocurrency, less interested in investing.
Among high-net-worth cryptocurrency investors who took our survey, just 24% said recent crypto scams have made them less interested in investing in cryptocurrency. 62% of high-net-worth crypto owners said they're more interested in investing in cryptocurrency because of recent high-profile scams.
On the other hand, 44% of American millionaires that don't own cryptocurrency said recent scams have made them less enthusiastic about investing in cryptocurrency. Just 37% said they were more interested in investing in crypto following high-profile scams.
How much have recent crypto scams (Walmart Litecoin, Squid coin, etc.) affected how you view crypto investments?
|Group||I'm much more interested in investing||I'm a bit more interested in investing||They didn't affect my views on crypto||I'm a bit less interested in investing||I'm much less interested in investing|
71% of millionaire crypto investors would use a credit card with cryptocurrency rewards, 58% would store crypto with a bank
Most American millionaires who own cryptocurrency would likely use a credit card with crypto rewards and bank with an institution that allows storing cryptocurrency.
This tracks with the views of the broader American public, of which 65% said they would consider using a credit card that provides cryptocurrency rewards and 70% said they would consider buying crypto if they could store it in a bank account.
Millionaires that don't own cryptocurrency are less interested in crypto credit card rewards or bank account support, but weren't entirely dismissive of them. 36% said they would likely use a credit card that provides crypto rewards and 40% said they'd be likely to use a bank with crypto support.
Which of the following would you be likely to use?
|Groups||A credit card with cryptocurrency rewards||A bank that lets you store cryptocurrency in an account||None of the above|
Two out of three millionaires who own cryptocurrency have at least half of their portfolio in crypto
Millionaires who own cryptocurrency aren't just testing the waters -- about two-thirds of them have at least half of their portfolio in cryptocurrency, according to our respondents.
A quarter of millionaire cryptocurrency owners in our survey have between 50% and 74% of their portfolios in cryptocurrency. Another quarter have between 75% and 99% of their portfolio in cryptocurrency.
About 16% of high-net-worth cryptocurrency owners have gone all-in on cryptocurrency.
|How much of your portfolio is allocated to cryptocurrency?||Percentage of respondents|
71% of American millionaires say they're likely to buy cryptocurrency in the next year
High-net-worth cryptocurrency owners want to continue investing in cryptocurrency -- 66% say they're very likely to buy more cryptocurrency in the next year and 16% say they're somewhat likely to do so.
About half of the millionaires that don't own cryptocurrency may have a change of heart over the next year and make their first investments in cryptocurrency. 24% of that group said they are very likely to buy cryptocurrency in the next year, while 25% said they are somewhat likely to do so.
How likely are you to buy cryptocurrency in the next year?
|Group||Very likely||Somewhat likely||Somewhat unlikely||Very unlikely|
59% of high-net-worth individuals who own cryptocurrency expect to allocate more of their portfolio to it over the next five years
Millionaires who own cryptocurrency aren't just likely to buy more in the next year, they also expect to have cryptocurrency make up a larger share of their portfolio over the next five years.
59% of American millionaires who own crypto expect cryptocurrency to make up more of their portfolio in five years. 22% believe that cryptocurrency will make up the same percentage.
19% anticipate that cryptocurrency will make up less of their portfolio over the next five years, a similar percentage of respondents who said they were unlikely to buy cryptocurrency over the next 12 months.
|How do you anticipate cryptocurrency's role in your portfolio changing over the next five years?||Percentage of respondents|
|Crypto will make up more of my portfolio||59.18%|
|Crypto will make up the same percentage of my portfolio||22.10%|
|Crypto will make up less of my portfolio||18.72%|
Millionaires view cryptocurrency as riskier than other investments
Despite the enthusiasm for cryptocurrency, millionaires view cryptocurrency as the riskiest type of investment regardless of whether they own cryptocurrency.
High-net-worth individuals see NFTs as the second-most risky investment, followed by stocks, index funds, bonds, real estate, and finally options.
Cryptocurrency owners, on average, assigned NFTs and stocks the same amount of risk.
|Asset||Cryptocurrency owners' risk ranking (1 being least risky)||Non-owners' risk ranking (1 being least risky)||Total|
Gen Z millionaires are the only generation that don't see cryptocurrency as the riskiest asset. Instead, they consider options to be riskier. This reflects Gen Z's overall view of cryptocurrency -- that it's a more stable investment than stocks or options.
Gen Z also considers NFTs to be less risky than index funds and bonds, and stocks to be less risky than all three of those assets. This may be a result of Gen Z beginning to invest in years when stocks and digital assets have had historically strong returns.
|Asset||Risk assigned by Gen Z investors||Risk assigned by millennial investors||Risk assigned by Gen X investors||Risk assigned by baby boomer investors||Risk assigned by Silent Generation investors||Risk assigned by all generations|
Roughly a third of millionaire crypto owners trade cryptocurrency at least once a day, but most want to hold for years
35% of high-net-worth individuals who own cryptocurrency trade at least once a day. Another 21% trade once a week.
Trading including buying and selling, so 35% of high-net-worth individuals aren't necessarily day trading cryptocurrency. But there's clearly enthusiasm among high-net-worth investors about cryptocurrency.
|How often do you trade cryptocurrency?||Percentage of respondents|
|I make at least one trade a day||34.73%|
|I make at least one trade a week||21.37%|
|I make at least one trade a month||13.73%|
|I make at least one trade every six months||10.65%|
|I make at least one trade a year||10.21%|
|I haven't trade cryptocurrency in over a year||9.32%|
The fact that about 91% of high-net-worth cryptocurrency owners want to hold their cryptocurrency investments for more than a year suggests that most are not interested in day trading cryptocurrency and view it as a long-, or at least medium-, term investment.
|On average, how long do you keep a cryptocurrency investment? (If you haven't sold one yet, how long do you anticipate holding your investments?)||Percentage of respondents|
|Less than a year||9.25%|
Lack of education about cryptocurrency is seen as the biggest barrier to adoption among millionaires
Asked what the largest barrier keeping people from investing in cryptocurrency is, about 24% of high-net-worth individuals cited a lack of education about cryptocurrency.
An uncertain regulatory environment and cryptocurrency having too few uses were the least cited barriers among all millionaires. Owners of cryptocurrency were less likely to point to uncertain regulation as a barrier to investment than non-owners.
What's the biggest barrier keeping more people out of investing in cryptocurrency?
|Group||Lack of education about cryptocurrency||Lack of support and cryptocurrency services from major financial institutions||Uncertain regulatory environment||Lack of belief in the value of cryptocurrency||Too few uses for cryptocurrency||Other|
Cryptocurrency-focused websites are the most popular sources of information for high-net-worth individuals who own cryptocurrency
About 59% of high-net-worth cryptocurrency investors get information on crypto investing from websites focused on cryptocurrency.
54% high-net-worth cryptocurrency investors use social media for cryptocurrency information, making it the second most popular information source.
Print media is the least used source for cryptocurrency information.
|Where do you get information on cryptocurrency?||Percentage of respondents|
|Cryptocurrency data and media websites (CoinDesk, Coin Metrics)||58.66%|
|Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)||53.89%|
|Financial media (Seeking Alpha, NerdWallet, Investing.com)||52.06%|
|News media (CNN, Fox Business, NPR)||48.09%|
|Family and friends||44.13%|
|Print or broadcast media (newspaper, magazines, TV)||42.58%|
Are high-net-worth Americans ahead of the crypto curve?
A recent poll from Pew found that just 16% of Americans own cryptocurrency, despite almost 90% having heard about it -- a far lower percentage than the 68% of high-net-worth individuals who own cryptocurrency.
So is it fair to say that high-net-worth Americans are ahead of the curve when it comes to cryptocurrency?
It's hard to tell. Cryptocurrency was invented just over a decade ago, regulation is still evolving, new tokens are being developed, and use cases are still being explored.
Millionaire cryptocurrency investors are just starting to explore the fast-growing cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin and Ethereum are by far the most popular cryptocurrencies among millionaire investors, but there are countless other tokens that offer exposure to distinct aspects of the cryptocurrency world.
That said, millionaires are certainly enthusiastic about cryptocurrency. A majority want to buy more, make it a larger share of their portfolio, and hold for at least a year. Wealthy Americans want credit cards that offer cryptocurrency rewards and bank accounts where they can store cryptocurrency.
High-net-worth Americans aren't the only group that sees cryptocurrency as a mainstay-almost half of Gen Z and Millennial investors own cryptocurrency. And over 20% of Americans are likely to buy cryptocurrency in the next year.
Cryptocurrency is new, volatile, and its landscape is fast changing. We expect attitudes toward it will continue to shift and evolve apace.
- CNBC (2021). "Tim Cook says he owns cryptocurrency and he's been 'interested in it for a while'."
- Pew (2021). "16% of Americans say they have ever invested in, traded or used cryptocurrency."
The Motley Fool distributed this survey to 2,000 American adults with at least $1 million in net worth via Pollfish on November 3, 2021.
Respondents were 43% female and 57% male.
The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.