A recent study from Piplsay found that 49% of millennials polled own cryptocurrency compared to 38% of Gen Xers and 13% of GenZ. Millennials are also more likely to adopt the investment as a form of payment, with 53% saying they are “very likely” to purchase products or services with crypto, vs. 40% of GenX polled and just 7% of GenZ.
“Millennials are growing natively with Web 2.0 — that is, mobile — and Web 3.0 (crypto) technology,” says Kurt Kumar of Rocketfuel Blockchain, a crypto payment processing company. “They intuitively understand digital wallets and treasure chests, which are part of many games younger millennials played, such as Fortnite and Minecraft.”
Beresford Research notes that the youngest millennials are 25, while the oldest in the cohort are 40. Kumar also pointed out that some of the younger members of this generation may not have credit cards or bank accounts yet, so they are instantly leveraging crypto wallets to conduct trades and transactions.
While this explanation could also apply to GenZ, it’s possible that more millennials have the maturity and knowledge to research and embrace crypto. GenZ, which ranges in age from 6 to 24, is just getting started dipping their toes into personal finance waters.
The Piplsay research also revealed that 88% of all crypto investing was done by respondents with a college or master’s degree.
The survey tallied the online responses of 5,061 people over the age of 18. Another survey from the Harris Poll and online savings site CouponCabin.com found that 44% of 2,063 Americans polled said they were “somewhat” or “very” familiar with crypto. These numbers are in line with the Piplsay findings, as well as past Harris Poll studies.
“These results are consistent with a Bloomberg/Harris Poll survey from February that saw 43% of Americans respond that they were somewhat or very familiar with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin,” said Andrew Gretchko of CouponCabin. “Even after the massive Coinbase IPO and multiple new highs, the overall awareness for cryptocurrencies amongst the American public has largely been unchanged over the past few months.”
The Musk Effect?
At least some of the millennial interest in crypto may also stem from billionaire Elon Musk’s interest in the topic.
“Elon’s meme tweets to his millions of followers resonates with millennials as they are the ones growing up with “meme culture.” Memes have been a main conduit for communicating certain references across millennial peer groups,” Kumar said. He noted that the generation considers themselves “meme-dealers.”
A separate Piplsay survey found that 41% of millennials and 35% of GenX follow Musk’s tweets closely, compared to 24% of GenZ. Half of millennials polled said they made or considered making investments based on the Tesla Technoking’s tweets.
Doge More Famous Than Ethereum
Musk’s social media presence has raised awareness about crypto in general, and Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency that began as a joke, specifically. The Harris Poll survey found that 89% of Americans have heard of cryptocurrency, with 71% knowing about Bitcoin. The survey found 29% of Americans have heard of Doge, while only 21% know about Ethereum, which is second only to Bitcoin in market cap.
“The abnormally high awareness for Dogecoin (29%) leads me to believe that the cultural relevance the cryptocurrency has been provided by Elon Musk has certainly given it an edge,” Gretchko said. “While Ethereum seems to have more long-term utility, the latter has been memefied and gained Musk’s support, boosting its gains and providing additional visibility.”
Crypto as Rewards
Not everyone loves crypto, though, based on the Harris Poll. Gretchko pointed out that 26% of those polled believe they’re used for illegal transactions on the internet, 23% think they’re a get rich quick scheme, and 19% called them “nefarious” or “shady.”
Somewhat surprisingly, 44% of those surveyed in the Harris Poll said they would be interested in receiving cryptocurrency as an alternative to traditional cash back reward programs from retailers/cash back websites. “It’s one thing to be familiar with cryptocurrencies through friends, family, the news or the Internet, but it’s another to turn down cold, hard cash in exchange for cryptocurrency as part of a loyalty program,” Gretchko said. “I’d speculate that many view loyalty programs as ‘free’ money, and therefore are more willing to take a risk with money they haven’t already budgeted as opposed to taking part of their salary and investing in, say, Bitcoin.”
Is Crypto Still a Good Investment?
As Bitcoin remained under $40,000 per U.S. dollar for the seventh day straight and other crypto similarly dipped, it may look like a good time to buy. “Crypto is here to stay,” Kumar said. “Having some portion in Bitcoin is a hedge against [inflation] and sound financial planning. Bitcoin, over the last 10 years, has only gone up.”
Kumar encourages retail investors to look at Bitcoin and Ethereum, avoiding alt-coins unless they have a good understanding of them. “Steer clear of Doge unless the itch is too strong and you want to embrace the speculative nature,” Kumar said. “Then, just invest a few hundred dollars and move on. If it goes up in the next few months or years, you’re ahead, and if it does not, you’re not facing a big loss.”
Tony Molina, CPA and Senior Product Specialist at Wealthfront, advises similar caution with any crypto investments. “Before you decide to buy the dip, make sure you don’t overexpose yourself just because Bitcoin is on sale,” he said. “Remember the golden rule with volatile assets like Bitcoin is to only invest an amount you would be willing to lose.”
Molina said a smarter investment strategy would include ETFs, with an eye on long-term wealth building. “The best practice is to keep the vast majority of your portfolio in a globally diversified portfolio of ETFs, which is a strategy proven to maximize reward while minimizing risk. Then you can use the remainder of your portfolio on things you want to try.”
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