Crypto Ownership: How Inflation, Regulation and More Led to Meteoric Rise in 2021

Young woman using cryptocurrency application on smartphone.
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2021 was cryptocurrency’s breakout year, as 41% of owners surveyed globally purchased it for the first time in 2021, with inflation being a primary driver for adoption, according to State of U.S. Crypto and Global State of Crypto reports from Gemini.

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“With inflation at levels not seen in 40 years in the U.S., we were particularly interested in the findings around whether Americans are investing in cryptocurrency as a hedge against inflation,” Gemini Chief Operating Officer Noah Perlman told GOBankingRates. “We found that among all respondents, only 16% in the U.S. say certain cryptocurrencies are a great way to protect against inflation. But among crypto owners in the U.S., 40% say the same. This suggests that Americans could be entering the crypto ecosystem after educating themselves about the potential inflation hedging properties of crypto, a trend that we expect to continue in the coming years.”

The global Gemini report also found that globally, the gender gap in cryptocurrency is potentially narrowing, as among those who plan to purchase it for the first time this year, 47% were women.

However, in the U.S., the gender gap is still wide, with 32% of investors being female, while 67% are male. For crypto curious, the gender gap is reversed, however, with 51% of females compared to 49% of male.

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In 2021, just 26% of current cryptocurrency holders were women, but Gemini said it sees the potential for this to change significantly. “Women account for more than half of those interested in getting into crypto soon, representing a major potential shift. The next wave of crypto buyers is also likely to be slightly older than current holders — with an average age of 44,” according to the U.S. report. “They are also likely to have slightly less money to invest than those who are already crypto holders and are more likely to live in a small town or rural area than in an urban area.”

The report also found that the crypto-curious audience remains largely white: 76% of the crypto-curious audience identifies as white or caucasian.

Gemini notes that 13% of U.S. adults — representing approximately 19.3 million adults — plan to purchase cryptocurrencies in the next 12 months, which would nearly double the current crypto investor population.

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In terms of barriers to entry, education remains the greatest obstacle to investing in cryptocurrency. Indeed, 39% of those who don’t yet own cryptocurrency consider themselves “somewhat or very” knowledgeable about cryptocurrency, and 77% indicate they are open to learning more about digital assets, whether they already own cryptocurrency or not.

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Finally, the report notes that general knowledge about cryptocurrencies seems to mirror what we hear in the news. Bitcoin is almost synonymous with cryptocurrency, but few have heard of other coins. An overwhelming 95% have heard of bitcoin, while only 38% have heard of ethereum, the U.S. report found.

In addition, 69% of cryptocurrency owners say they buy and hold cryptocurrency for its long-term investment potential, while 36% say they actively buy and sell as a means to achieve profits, and 27% say they actively use it to make purchases on the internet.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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