Cryptocurrencies

16% of Americans say they have invested, traded or used cryptocurrencies

16% of Americans say they have invested, traded or used cryptocurrencies

A smartphone app shows cryptocurrency exchange rates in April. (Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)

The vast majority of American adults have heard of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ether at least a bit, and 16% say they have personally invested in, traded in or used another, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. Men between the ages of 18 and 29 are particularly likely to say they have used cryptocurrencies.

A bar chart showing that nearly nine in ten Americans say they've heard at least a little about cryptocurrency, and 16% say they've ever invested, traded, or used one themselves

Overall, 86% of Americans say they have heard at least a little about cryptocurrencies, including 24% who say they have heard a lot, according to the Survey of American Adults, conducted September 13-19, 2021. Some 13% say they didn’t hear anything at all.

In 2015, the Center asked Americans a variety of questions that focused exclusively on Bitcoin. At the time, 48% of adults said they had heard of Bitcoin (to some degree), and only 1% said they had ever collected, traded, or used it.

The Pew Research Center has conducted several studies on Americans and cryptocurrency. This survey was conducted among 10,371 American adults from September 13-19, 2021. All of those who participated are members of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel recruited by national random sampling residential addresses. In this way, almost all American adults have a chance of being selected. The survey is weighted to be representative of the adult US population by gender, race, ethnicity, party affiliation, education and other categories. Learn more about the ATP methodology. Here are the questions used for this report, along with the answers, and its methodology.

This survey includes a total sample of 362 Asian Americans. The sample includes only English-speaking Asian Americans and therefore may not be representative of the entire Asian American population. Despite this limitation, it is important to report the perspectives of Asian Americans on the subjects of this study. As always, responses from Asian Americans are incorporated into general population figures throughout this report. Due to the relatively small sample size and a reduction in precision due to weighting, we are unable to analyze Asian American respondents by demographic categories, such as gender, age or education.

In the new survey, certain demographic groups are particularly likely to say they have used cryptocurrencies, with some of the biggest differences by age and gender.

A bar chart showing that 43% of men aged 18-29 say they have invested, traded or used cryptocurrency

About three in ten Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 (31%) say they have ever invested, traded or used a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Ether, compared to a smaller proportion of adults in older age groups. aged. Men are about twice as likely as women to report ever using a cryptocurrency (22% vs. 10%).

These differences are particularly pronounced when considering age and gender together. About four in ten men aged 18-29 (43%), for example, say they have ever invested, traded or used cryptocurrency, compared to 19% of women in the same age bracket. For both men and women, the likelihood of having invested, traded or used cryptocurrencies decreases with age.

Asian, Black, and Hispanic adults are more likely than white adults to say they have ever invested, traded, or used cryptocurrency. There are no statistically significant differences by household income.

While the majority of demographic groups say they have heard at least a little about cryptocurrency, smaller shares say they have heard a lot. For example, adults under 50 (31%) and men (35%) are more likely than older Americans (16%) and women (15%), respectively, to say they have heard a lot.

The share of adults who have heard a lot about cryptocurrency also varies by race, ethnicity and household income. For example, 43% of Asian Americans say they have heard a lot about cryptocurrency, compared to 29% of Hispanic adults and about a quarter of black or white adults. High-income (31%) Americans are more likely than middle-income (25%) and low-income (21%) Americans to have heard a lot about cryptocurrency.

These conclusions are emerging as government leaders and other debate the rules of cryptocurrency – which has been defined as a digital, encrypted and decentralized medium of exchange, without a central authority that manages and maintains its value. Financial regulators are concerned monitor cryptocurrencies and raised concerns about long-term viability such currencies, such as Bitcoin.

China recently prohibited transactions using cryptocurrencies. US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell said this summer that these currencies need more regulationand the Biden administration is trying to fight ransomware cracking down on cryptocurrency payments. At the same time, El Salvador in September became the first country declare bitcoin as legal tender.

Note: Here are the questions used for this report, along with the answers, and its methodology.

André Perrin is a research analyst specializing in internet and technology at the Pew Research Center.