Study: Over 46 Million Americans Likely to Buy Crypto in the Next Year
With the stock market dipping and inflation biting, 46.5 million Americans who have never purchased cryptocurrency before say they are likely to invest in crypto for the first time next year, according to a survey from The Ascent, a Motley Fool service.
Those Americans will join the 145 million American adults -- about 56% of the U.S. adult population -- who say they own cryptocurrency or have invested in crypto in the past.
In May 2022, The Ascent surveyed 2,000 American adults to get a better understanding of why they are interested in becoming cryptocurrency investors or why they shy away from the cryptocurrency market. We asked whether they understand blockchain, where they get information about cryptocurrency, what tools they use to invest in crypto, and more.
We found that interest in becoming a crypto investor for the first time continues to grow, although an increasing number of Americans believe that cryptocurrency is a bad investment.
Read on for cryptocurrency statistics, including how many people own cryptocurrency, what Americans think about governmental regulations, what's led them into the crypto market, and what's keeping them out.
- Interest in cryptocurrency continues to grow: 56% of American adults, roughly 145 million people, say they own or have previously owned cryptocurrency. Seventy-four percent of that group, roughly 107 million Americans, invested in crypto for the first time in the last two years. Forty-one percent of Americans who have never owned crypto, about 46.5 million Americans, say they are likely to buy crypto in the next year.
- Skepticism towards crypto's value is on the rise: 24% of American adults who don't own crypto haven't bought it because they think it's a bad investment, up from 9% in 2021.
- Financial integration is in demand: 52% of American adults would consider investing in cryptocurrency in their retirement accounts, 62% would consider buying more crypto if they could store it in a bank account, and 61% would consider a credit card with crypto rewards.
How many people own cryptocurrency? 145 million Americans
Fifty-six percent of American adults, about 145 million people, say they own or have previously owned cryptocurrency.
The number of Americans that own crypto is now on par with the number of Americans who own stocks.
Since Bitcoin's creation in 2009, interest in investing in virtual currency has exploded. There are countless cryptocurrencies, different types of cryptocurrencies, and more ways to invest in cryptocurrency than ever before.
74% of Americans who own cryptocurrency bought for the first time within the last 2 years
Seventy-four percent of cryptocurrency investors, roughly 107 million Americans, bought for the first time in the last two years.
Impressive returns from crypto markets in 2020 and much of 2021 likely brought in a new wave of cryptocurrency ownership.
|Timeframe of first crypto purchase||2021||2022|
|Less than a month ago||8%||8%|
|1–3 months ago||14%||14%|
|4–6 months ago||16%||14%|
|7–12 months ago||13%||13%|
|1–2 years ago||20%||25%|
|2–5 years ago||18%||16%|
|More than 5 years ago||10%||9%|
41% of Americans who have never bought cryptocurrency are likely to buy in the next year
Out of the 44% of Americans who have never owned crypto, 41%, or 46.5 million Americans, are likely to invest in crypto for the first time in the next year.
Fourteen percent said they are very likely to invest, and 27% said they are somewhat likely.
Those numbers are up from 2021, when only 3% said they were very likely to invest in crypto in the coming year and 20% said they were somewhat likely.
|Likelihood of buying crypto in the next year||2021||2022|
53% of cryptocurrency owners bought in as an investment; one-third think it will replace standard currencies
Fifty-three percent of cryptocurrency investors purchased crypto as an investment. The percentage of crypto owners who bought in as an investment is down 14% from 2021, when 67% of crypto owners said they purchased crypto as an investment.
The second most popular reason Americans invest in cryptocurrency is for fun or as a hobby.
A sizable number of Americans, however, bought cryptocurrency for reasons one wouldn't buy a stock or bond. These investors see the non-traditional benefits of cryptocurrency.
For example, 32% bought crypto because they believe it will replace standard currencies. Thirty-one percent said they bought cryptocurrency to make secure payments, and the same percentage said they bought because they like that it isn't government-controlled. Twenty-nine percent said they purchased cryptocurrency to buy non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or make purchases in the metaverse.
|Reason for owning crypto||2021||2022|
|As an investment||67%||53%|
|For fun or as a hobby||45%||40%|
|I believe it will replace standard currencies||34%||32%|
|To make secure payments||30%||31%|
|I like that it isn't government-controlled||29%||31%|
|To buy NFTs or make purchases in the metaverse||N/A*||29%|
52% of crypto investors also hold stocks; 35% own NFTs
Fifty-two percent of crypto investors also own stocks and 36% are invested in a retirement account.
Both of those percentages are down -- 13% and 15% respectively -- compared to 2021. Crypto holders are also less likely to hold mutual funds and bonds than they were a year ago. The recent market downturn may have contributed to these developments.
On the other hand, more crypto investors are now likely to also own NFTs compared to 2021. In that year, 21% of crypto owners also owned an NFT. In 2022, 35% of crypto investors owned an NFT.
|Other types of investments owned (among crypto investors)||2021||2022|
|None of the above||8%||11%|
The jump of 14 percentage points may indicate that NFTs and other digital assets could be a significant driver in crypto adoption, but more data is necessary to make a strong claim.
24% of adults who don't own crypto think it's a bad investment
Twenty-four percent of American adults who haven't invested in cryptocurrency think it's a bad investment. The percentage of Americans who have stayed away from crypto because they think it's a poor investment grew 13% from 2021, and it's now the most-cited barrier to investing in crypto.
Another 17% haven't invested because they don't know what to do with it, down 12% from 2021.
More Americans this year think it's too late to cash in on the crypto market -- 14% said they haven't invested because they feel like it's too late, while in 2021 only 7% said they thought it was too late.
Not understanding how to buy cryptocurrency fell from the second-most cited barrier to investment in 2021 to the least-cited barrier this year. In 2021, 20% of adults who had never owned crypto said not knowing how to buy crypto was their primary barrier to investing. In 2022, only 8% cited that as the reason they haven't bought in.
|Main barrier to investing in crypto||2021||2022|
|I think it's a bad investment||9%||24%|
|I don't know what to do with it||29%||17%|
|I feel like it's too late||7%||14%|
|I'm waiting for more people to start using it||7%||11%|
|I've never heard of it||14%||9%|
|It's too expensive||8%||9%|
|I don't understand how to buy it||20%||8%|
52% of American adults would consider investing in cryptocurrency in their retirement accounts
Fifty-two percent of Americans would consider including cryptocurrency among the investments in their retirement account.
Attitudes towards investing in cryptocurrency as part of a retirement plan shifted based on whether respondents were crypto investors.
Sixty-three percent of crypto investors said they are open to including crypto in their retirement account, while only 39% of those who have never invested in cryptocurrency were open to the idea.
|Respondent||Percent that would consider investing in cryptocurrency in their retirement account|
|Crypto owners/previous owners yes||63%|
Adding cryptocurrency to retirement accounts like a 401(k) or IRA has been a subject of debate and scrutiny.
In March, the Department of Labor cautioned retirement account providers against offering cryptocurrency, and warned that doing so may result in investigation. Most major retirement account providers don't offer crypto to account holders, although Fidelity, the largest retirement account provider in the United States, does.
51% of Americans who have never owned cryptocurrency would consider buying if they could store it in their primary bank
Fifty-one percent of Americans would consider buying cryptocurrency for the first time if they could store it in an account at their primary bank.
Seventy-one percent of those who own or have owned crypto say they'd consider buying more of it if they could store it with their bank. That's down from 84% in 2021.
Overall, 62% of American adults said they would consider buying cryptocurrency or buying more of it if they could store it in an account with their bank, down 8% from 2021.
Looping financial institutions into the cryptocurrency world would go against what many people think is a big advantage of crypto, but there's a lot of interest in it.
|Respondents who would consider buying (or buying more) cryptocurrency if they could store it in an account with their primary bank||2021||2022|
|Cryptocurrency owners/previous owners||84%||71%|
61% of Americans would consider a credit card with crypto rewards
Americans are also intrigued by crypto rewards credit cards.
However, interest in crypto credit cards has waned slightly over the past year.
Sixty-one percent of Americans said they would consider signing up for a credit card with crypto rewards, compared to 65% in 2021. Forty-five percent of those who had never owned cryptocurrency said they would consider it, and 73% of those who own or have owned cryptocurrency expressed an interest, compared to 80% in 2021.
|Respondents who would consider signing up for a credit card that provides rewards or cash back in cryptocurrency||2021||2022|
|Cryptocurrency owners/previous owners||80%||73%|
44% of Americans would consider receiving part of their salary in cryptocurrency
Overall, 44% of Americans would consider receiving part of their salary in cryptocurrency, and 36% said they would consider receiving all of their salary in cryptocurrency.
Fifty-six percent of crypto owners and previous owners would consider getting part of their salary in crypto payments.
Respondents who had never owned cryptocurrency were significantly less likely to consider getting any portion of their salary in crypto, although more are interested in taking some or all of their salary in crypto compared to 2021.
|Respondents who would consider receiving part of their salary in cryptocurrency||2021||2022|
|Cryptocurrency owners/previous owners||59%||56%|
|Respondents who would consider receiving all of their salary in cryptocurrency||2021||2022|
|Cryptocurrency owners/previous owners||45%||45%|
58% of Americans think those who haven't invested in cryptocurrency can still make a profit
Fifty-eight percent of American adults believe it's not too late for those who haven't invested in crypto to make a profit.
Those who have never owned cryptocurrency are more optimistic -- 67% of that group don't believe they've missed the boat on making a profit from cryptocurrency. On the other hand, 49% of respondents that own or have owned cryptocurrency believe that non-investors have missed the boat.
|Respondents who think people who haven't yet invested in cryptocurrency have missed the boat or are too late to make a profit||2021||2022|
|Cryptocurrency owners/previous owners||52%||49%|
Roughly 9% of people who have bought cryptocurrency don't understand how it works
How many people own cryptocurrency and really understand how it works? Not quite as many as one might expect. Most American adults admit they don't have a full understanding of how cryptocurrency works, despite it moving toward more mainstream acceptance.
Nineteen percent of respondents said they don't understand how cryptocurrency works at all. A quarter reported understanding how cryptocurrency works a little bit. Just 24% claimed to understand how it works very well.
Respondents who own or have owned cryptocurrency reported higher levels of understanding compared to those who have never owned cryptocurrency.
However, 9% of those who own or have owned cryptocurrency said they don't understand how it works at all. We recommend that before purchasing assets, investors educate themselves about them, especially in the case of new classes of asset like cryptocurrency.
|Please rate your understanding of cryptocurrency:||Owners/previous owners||Never-owners||All|
|I don't understand how it works it at all||9%||33%||19%|
|I understand how it works a little bit||24%||25%||25%|
|I understand some of how it works||24%||18%||22%|
|I understand how it works very well||34%||11%||24%|
|I've never heard of cryptocurrency||8%||13%||10%|
21% of adults have never heard of blockchain, and 23% haven't heard of decentralized finance
Cryptocurrencies rely on blockchains to validate transactions. These networks can cut out typical financial middlemen like banks and brokerages, allowing users to interact directly with each other. This can create a decentralized financial network.
Our results suggest that consumers need more education about these subjects, given the fundamental importance of blockchain and decentralized finance to many cryptocurrencies.
Overall, about one-fifth of respondents said they didn't understand blockchain and decentralized finance, and one-fifth said they had never heard of those concepts.
Notably, 12% of those who own or have owned cryptocurrency have never heard of blockchain, and 13% say they don't understand how blockchain works at all.
Those who have never owned cryptocurrency were more likely to report less or no understanding of blockchain and decentralized finance.
|Please rate your understanding of blockchain technology:||Cryptocurrency owners/previous owners||Crypto non-owners||All|
|I don't understand how it works it at all||13%||28%||20%|
|I understand how it works a little bit||23%||15%||20%|
|I understand some of how it works||26%||16%||22%|
|I understand how it works very well||25%||10%||18%|
|I've never heard of blockchain technology||12%||32%||21%|
|Please rate your understanding of decentralized finance:||Cryptocurrency owners/previous owners||Crypto non-owners||All|
|I don't understand how it works it at all||15%||28%||21%|
|I understand how it works a little bit||29%||19%||25%|
|I understand some of how it works||19%||11%||16%|
|I understand how it works very well||22%||9%||17%|
|I've never heard of decentralized finance||15%||33%||23%|
68% of crypto investors typically sell cryptocurrency within a year of buying
Sixty-eight percent of crypto investors typically sell cryptocurrency within a year of purchasing it. They're most likely to sell within a month. Just 12% of respondents said they typically sell more than a year after purchase (though 20% said they haven't sold any cryptocurrency yet).
The Motley Fool recommends that investors hold crypto investments (and most other investments) for at least five years.
|How long do you typically wait to sell cryptocurrency after you buy it?||2021||2022|
|More than a year||14%||12%|
|I haven't sold any cryptocurrency yet||21%||20%|
30% of crypto investors get most of their information on cryptocurrency from social media
Crypto investors are most likely to get information on buying and selling crypto from social media -- 15% get most of their information from friends and communities on social media, and another 15% get most of their information from influencers and experts on social media.
Thirty-one percent rely on crypto news websites, while just 13% get most of their information on crypto trading from traditional news websites.
|Where do/did you get MOST of your information about which cryptocurrencies to buy or sell?||2021||2022|
|Cryptocurrency news websites||37%||31%|
|Friends and family||13%||18%|
|Friends and communities on social media||20%||15%|
|Influencers and experts on social media||10%||15%|
|Traditional news websites||16%||13%|
56% of American crypto cryptocurrency owners have used Coinbase
Coinbase was by far the exchange most commonly used to buy or sell cryptocurrency, with 56% of respondents having used it. No other exchange was used by more than 27% of respondents.
Binance and Gemini are other relatively popular exchanges. Gemini has launched a crypto rewards credit card to attract new investors and retain current ones.
|Which of the following cryptocurrency exchanges have you used to buy or sell cryptocurrency?||2021||2022|
79% of Americans are concerned about crypto scams
Seventy-nine percent of American adults are concerned about cryptocurrency scams -- no surprise, given that crypto and investment scams have skyrocketed in frequency and costs in recent years. In some cases, hackers have exploited software vulnerabilities to commit outright cryptocurrency theft.
Notably, there is little variance among cryptocurrency holders and those who have never bought crypto when it comes to concern over crypto scams.
|Respondents||Not concerned||Somewhat concerned||Very concerned|
|Cryptocurrency owners/previous owners||19%||40%||41%|
To avoid crypto scams, be wary of alleged investment opportunities sent to you online or via messaging app from someone you've never spoken to, avoid schemes that sound too good to be true or guarantee a big return on investment, and research the blockchain or initial coin offering behind the pitched crypto asset.
51% of people who have owned cryptocurrency believe the government should regulate it
Fifty-one percent of cryptocurrency investors think the government should regulate crypto, up 7% from 2021.
Surprisingly, Americans that have never owned crypto are less likely to think it should be regulated (47%).
Overall, 50% of American adults believe the government should regulate crypto, highlighting how controversial the idea of crypto regulation has been.
In March, President Biden issued an executive order that may set the stage for regulation of digital assets, and there is no shortage of debate between legislators about whether and how digital assets should be regulated. The Federal Reserve is also exploring a Central Bank Digital Currency equivalent to the physical U.S. dollar.
Some crypto proponents argue that regulation may be good for the industry, despite other crypto supporters hyping crypto-enabling financial systems that operate outside of government.
|Cryptocurrency owners/previous owners||51%||49%|
Interest in cryptocurrency is growing, but barriers to entry remain
Interest in cryptocurrency investing continues to grow among American adults, and most think they can still make a profit by investing in cryptocurrency.
Forty-one percent of American adults who have never bought cryptocurrency are likely to invest in the next year, and of those who own or have owned cryptocurrency, 74% invested in it for the first time in the past two years.
Barriers to more investment remain, however. There is significant concern about crypto scam from crypto investors and those who have never bought crypto. People who haven't invested in crypto have growing doubts about crypto's viability as an investment, and are unsure of its utility.
There are some clear ways to make cryptocurrency more attractive -- American adults would be more willing to buy cryptocurrency if they could store it in their primary bank accounts, and they are intrigued by crypto credit cards.
Overall prospects for more-widespread cryptocurrency adoption remain strong and we'll be keeping a close eye on the crypto market.
On May 6, 2021, The Motley Fool distributed a survey to 2,000 American adults via Pollfish. Respondents were 44.7% female and 55.3% male.
On May 26, 2022, The Motley Fool distributed a survey to 2,000 American adults via Pollfish. Respondents were 49.65% female and 5.35% male
We're firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.