Fed survey: 12% of US adults, mostly wealthy, held cryptos in 2021

By Raffaele Redi

Those who held cryptos for investment purposes tended to be in the high-income bracket

The Federal Reserve Building, Washington DC                                 
The findings appeared in the Federal Reserve report ’The Economic Well-Being of US Households in 2021’ – Photo: Shuttestock

12% of US adults held cryptocurrencies in 2021 and most of those that did were wealthy, according to a survey by the Federal Reserve.

The survey by the US financial institution seems also to dismantle the remittances industry narrative, as only a few of those surveyed said they used cryptos to send money to relatives or friends, while most people had bought cryptocurrency for investment purposes.

In particular, 11% of adults had held cryptocurrency as an investment, while a far smaller 2% of adults said they had used cryptocurrency to buy something or make a payment in the prior 12 months, and 1% had used it to send money to friends or family.

According to the Federal Reserve, the financial profiles of those who used cryptocurrencies for transactions were quite different from the financial profiles of those buying crypto purely as an investment.

Nearly 60% of adults who used cryptocurrencies for transactions had an income of less than $50,000, while a far lower 24% had an income of more than $100,000. Transactional cryptocurrency users were also less likely to have a bank account.

Only a few were unbanked

The survey from the Fed also stressed that 99% of those investing in cryptocurrency, but not using it for transactions, had a bank account, while 89% of non-retired cryptocurrency investors had at least some retirement savings.

According to the survey, 13% of those who used cryptocurrency for transactions lacked a bank account, compared with just 6% of adults who did not use cryptocurrency. Similarly, 27% of transactional cryptocurrency users did not have a credit card, exceeding the 17% of non-users without a credit card.

“Those who held cryptocurrency purely for investment purposes were disproportionately high-income, almost always had a traditional banking relationship, and typically had other retirement savings,” said the Fed researchers.

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