Cryptocurrency markets are taking hits from all sides – from price drops to multiple corporate bankruptcies to lawsuits and regulatory threats. Among the vast majority of Americans who say they’ve heard something about cryptocurrencies (88%), three-quarters say they’re not sure current ways to invest, trade or use cryptocurrencies are reliable and safe, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted March 13-19. . This comes to about two-thirds of all US adults.
Roughly four-in-ten adults who have heard of cryptocurrencies (39%) say they are not at all confident, and an additional 36% are not very confident about the reliability and security of cryptocurrencies. At the other end of the spectrum, few of these adults are extremely (2%) or very (4%) confident in cryptocurrency. Almost one in five (18%) say they are somewhat confident.
While concern about cryptocurrency is widespread, some groups of Americans are more concerned than others. For example, adults aged 50 and over who have heard about cryptocurrency are less confident about its reliability and security than their younger counterparts (85% vs. 66%).
The Pew Research Center conducted the study to examine Americans’ views and personal experiences with cryptocurrencies. The survey was conducted between March 13-19, 2023, among 10,701 US adults. Participants are members of the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. Thus, almost all US adults have the opportunity to choose. The survey is representative of the US adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about ATP’s approach. Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses, and its methodology
This study included a total sample of 375 Asian adults. The sample included primarily English-speaking Asian Americans and therefore may not be representative of the overall Asian adult population. Despite these limitations, responses from Asian adults are included in general population statistics throughout this report.
Women are also a bit more skeptical about investing in, trading or using cryptocurrencies. Among Americans who have heard of cryptocurrency, 80% of women say they are not confident in it, compared to 71% of men.
Attitudes also differ based on whether one has invested in cryptocurrency. While one in five cryptocurrency users say they are extremely or very confident that it is safe and reliable, this share drops to 2% among those who are familiar with cryptocurrency but have not invested. Still many who there is Investors in cryptocurrency also have concerns about its security: 43% of this group said they are not very confident in it.
Who Uses Cryptocurrency in the US?
Overall, 17% of US adults say they have ever invested in, traded or used cryptocurrency. This share is largely unchanged from previous Center surveys conducted in 2021 and 2022.
As has been true in past surveys, younger men are more likely to use cryptocurrency than men 50 and older and women of any age. For example, 41% of men aged 18 to 29 said they have invested, traded or used cryptocurrencies compared to 16% of women in the same age group.
Cryptocurrency usage also differs by race, ethnicity, and income level. About 24% of Asian adults and 21% of black or Hispanic adults say they have ever invested in or used cryptocurrency, compared to 14% of white adults.
One in five adults with high (22%) or moderate (19%) incomes have ever invested in, traded or used cryptocurrency, compared to 13% of people with low incomes.
Some cryptocurrency users first used it within the last year
The survey asked Americans when they first used cryptocurrency. Nearly three-quarters of those who have ever invested, traded or used cryptocurrency (74%) said they did so for the first time one to five years ago. A much smaller share said they first did so within the past year (16%) or more than five years ago (10%).
Race, ethnicity, and family income vary among new cryptocurrency investors. Black users (27%) are more likely than white users (12%) to say they first used cryptocurrency within the past year. Roughly ten in ten Hispanic users (21%) say the same. (There weren’t enough Asian American cryptocurrency users to split into a separate analysis.) And about three-in-ten users from low-income households reported a first investment in cryptocurrency within the past year, compared to one in ten adults from middle- or high-income households.
Some past cryptocurrency users are no more today
Roughly three in ten adults (31%) who have ever invested in, traded or used cryptocurrencies say they do not currently own any cryptocurrencies. Still, the majority (69%) say they currently own cryptocurrencies.
Those living in low-income households (43%) are more likely to give up cryptocurrency than middle- (30%) or high-income (21%) households. And women who have ever used cryptocurrency are more likely than men in this same group to say they don’t currently own any currency (37% vs. 29%).
Roughly one in five cryptocurrency users say investments have hurt their personal finances
A plurality (45%) of cryptocurrency users report that their investments performed worse than they expected, a result that was statistically unchanged from July 2022, when the center last asked about it. In comparison, 15% say their investments have done better than expected, 32% say they have done the same as expected and 7% are unsure.
However, when these investments have impacted users’ personal finances, three in five users (60%) say they have neither helped nor harmed them. Roughly equal shares say these investments have helped them financially (20%) or hurt them (19%). Only 7% say cryptocurrency has helped them a lot with their finances and 3% say it has hurt them a lot.
College graduates (25%) and those with some college experience (20%) are more likely than those with a high school education or less (10%) to say their cryptocurrency investments hurt their personal finances.
Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses, and its methodology
Michel Faverio is a research analyst focusing on Internet and technology research at the Pew Research Center.
Olivia Sidoti is a research assistant focusing on internet and technology research at the Pew Research Center.