The March 2022 Biden administration executive order and national recognition of digital currencies comes as U.S. consumer ownership and use of cryptocurrencies as a viable payment method soar to unprecedented heights. Not only do 16% of US consumers — 41.2 million people — now own at least one type of cryptocurrency, but 16.1 million have used cryptocurrencies for online purchases in the last 30 days, and 7.1 million have used them for purchases used in shops during this period.
Most consumers still see crypto primarily as a form of investment rather than a payment method — but that’s rapidly changing with a growing cohort of crypto owners. Research from PYMNTS shows that about half of consumers who own cryptocurrency use it as an investment, but nearly a third of consumers who own or have owned cryptocurrency in the past 12 months say they would switch merchants if this would mean that they could pay with cryptocurrency. High-income millennials in particular are using cryptocurrency to buy everything from groceries and clothing to gaming and entertainment subscriptions.
These are just some of the insights in “The USA Crypto Consumers: Using cryptocurrencies in online and in-store purchases”, a PYMNTS and BitPay Cooperation. In this report, we surveyed 2,334 current or former cryptocurrency users and non-users in the United States to learn more about consumers’ growing interest in cryptocurrencies and plans for owning and using cryptocurrencies.
Other important results of the study are:
• 23% of consumers – 59.6 million people – have owned at least one cryptocurrency in the past year, up from 16% – 41.5 million people – in 2021. Sixteen percent currently own cryptocurrencies, with 7% saying they have owned them in the past but no longer. The share of consumers owning cryptocurrencies in 2022 increased by four percentage points from 2021. Last year, only 12% of survey respondents said they currently own cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency owners are most likely millennials and high-income consumers.
• Bitcoin enjoys a comfortable lead over all other cryptocurrencies in terms of usage and consumer awareness. Bitcoin is a clear leader in terms of recognition and user penetration. PYMNTS research found that of the 12 cryptocurrency market players currently held by survey respondents, 12% of consumers own Bitcoin, 5% have held it in the last 12 months, and 2% have held it at some point in time to have. Also, 74% of consumers who have never owned Bitcoin have heard of it, and only 8% said they have never heard of Bitcoin. Ethereum and Dogecoin are also among the top cryptocurrencies currently held by consumers.
• High-income consumers and millennials are most likely to view cryptocurrencies as a payment option. When asked whether cryptocurrencies are a viable payment alternative, there was an even split among consumers as to whether they were neutral or negative about the technology. 36 percent of consumers had a neutral or negative perception of cryptocurrencies as a payment alternative. Only 28% said they were positive, but that proportion increases among millennials and consumers earning more than $100,000. 48% of millennials and 32% of high-income consumers are positive about cryptocurrencies as a viable payment method.
To learn more about US consumers’ growing interest in owning and using cryptocurrency, Download the report.