It's hard to avoid the latest headlines proclaiming that Bitcoin has lost half of its value since reaching its record high just two months ago. News like that can easily raise an investor's blood pressure several points -- or force them to put their money into a simple savings account. Yet despite such volatility in the fast-evolving world of blockchain and cryptocurrency, a new survey from crypto trading platform Voyager Digital announced late last week that two-thirds of the more-than 6,000 Americans it surveyed are bullish on cryptocurrencies. Those Americans believe that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, altcoins, stablecoins and the like will be widely accepted as forms of payment within the next five years.
American consumers are gaining confidence in crypto as it becomes more mainstream and grows in utility, Voyager Digital stated in its press release. About 64% of Americans surveyed, for example, believe that crypto will gain value in 2022, with 61% saying that they're likely to purchase some form of cryptocurrency this year.
"I think consumers look at it as a long-term investment and that there's going to be an evolution of technology that's built on blockchain," said Voyager Digital CEO Stephen Ehrlich in an interview with ZDNet. "I think a lot of the protocols, a lot of the coins and blockchain are the next version of the technology evolution -- not revolution -- but evolution."
Voyager Digital's Crypto Confidence Survey is its first. It was commissioned by Voyager and fielded by global data intelligence firm Savanta between December 10 and 20, 2021. Savanta surveyed a total of 6,103 people, which consisted of a Census-representative sample of 1,006 Americans ages 18 and older, plus an oversample to reach 996 current cryptocurrency owners and 4,325 current customers of Voyager, according to the press release.
Among the key takeaways from the survey is that women are the most receptive to owning cryptocurrency. Of the two-thirds surveyed who believe crypto's acceptance will be widespread within the next five years, more than half are women (53%) compared to 44% who are men. And of the 61% surveyed who say it's likely they'll purchase crypto this year, women are slightly more likely than men to buy crypto at 62% and 60%, respectively.
Ironically, the survey findings suggest that American men are twice as likely as women to currently own crypto, according to the survey.
From a generational standpoint, the survey indicated that, contrary to popular belief, the number of Gen X-ers and Boomers that are interested and want to participate in cryptocurrency continues to grow. Of the 61% who said they're bullish to buy crypto in 2022, the majority of Gen Xers (62%) and almost a third of Boomers (32%) said they'd buy crypto this year.
"Everyone thinks of [crypto] as a Millennial/Gen Z opportunity, and those are the ones that are going to get it. But Gen X and Boomers are saying they want to participate," Ehrlich said.
Another key finding Ehrlich notes is that Millennial and Gen Z respondents are more apt to invest in cryptocurrency than in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds. "I think a lot of that goes back to the financial crisis in 2008," he said, suggesting that younger generations -- who experienced the breakdown in the financial markets as a result of the Great Recession -- see cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance as a means of taking greater control of their finances.
"They're like, 'Hey, long term I know this technology is going to be replacing and evolving and I want to take more control because I think this decentralized aspect is going to help me create wealth so I can be able to buy my first house,'" Ehrlich said.
According to the survey, of the 43% of Americans surveyed who believe cryptocurrency is the future of money, the majority are Millennials at 59%, followed by Gen X-ers at 46%, and Gen Zs at 41%.
The Millennial generation is a significant driving force in the adoption of cryptocurrency, the survey suggests, revealing the following about Millennials' attitudes toward investing in cryptocurrencies:
● 82% are excited about crypto's ability to reduce reliance on banks
● 41% bought crypto in 2021 rather than mutual funds (23%) or new cars (27%)
● 82% are excited at the prospect of being able to buy a cup of coffee using crypto
● 67% want to learn more about cryptocurrency
● 59% believe that cryptocurrencies are the future
● 51% believe that cryptocurrencies have the potential to help small businesses
Although the volatile swings in the value of digital coins remains a top concern among crypto traders, many of the people surveyed don't see it as a deterrent. "Consumers, even though they understand that there's volatility in these asset classes, they look at this and say the volatility are bumps in the road and that overall," Ehrlich noted.
Also: The future of money: Where blockchain and cryptocurrency will take us next
"Volatility comes in cryptocurrency because it's only been around 10 years," he explained.
For some investors surveyed, the biggest risk is not a volatile market, but not participating at all in crypto. "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to participate in what will be the infrastructure of the future," Ehrlich said. That doesn't mean investors need to withdraw all their money and life savings and pour it into crypto, but rather they need to invest the amount that they're most comfortable with to participate. "The key is entering at a level of comfort and education."
Education is one facet that respondents on the survey feel needs more attention. About half of the respondents surveyed said that they would consider investing more in cryptocurrency if they understood it better, and 55% said they want to learn more. Forty-five percent of Gen X-ers and Boomers said they wish they knew about crypto at a younger age.
What's more, two-thirds of those surveyed said that crypto should be taught in high school, and a third believe that it should be taught in middle school or earlier. This belief coincides with the opinion of newly elected mayor of New York City Eric Adams, who has said that cryptocurrency and blockchain should be taught in schools.
Perhaps the biggest lesson gleaned from the survey is that investing in cryptocurrencies is not just for the younger generations. "The thought that crypto is just for Millennials and Gen Z is misguided. With the amount of Boomers and Gen X-ers that are in it -- who want information, are learning more, want to participate, and are starting to participate -- that changes the narrative about cryptocurrencies," Ehrlich said.
"I think that one of the key findings from the survey is just how important digital assets are becoming," Ehrlich added, "and that alone shows you how big we are with cryptocurrencies in the US. We know it's going to be so much bigger because it's not just one or two generations. It's everybody."