Just 8 percent of Americans are invested in cryptocurrencies, survey says

  • You've most likely heard of bitcoin by now.
  • New research suggests you probably haven't bought any (or even plan to).
Bitcoin is a borderless digital currency that eliminates the need for a bank. Therefore, understanding this concept hinges on conceiving financial transactions without banks.
Jack Guez | AFP | Getty Images
Bitcoin is a borderless digital currency that eliminates the need for a bank. Therefore, understanding this concept hinges on conceiving financial transactions without banks.

Cryptocurrencies are in the headlines every day and some say are powerful enough to take down the stock market as well as threaten the role of century-old banks and governments.

Turns out, demand for the digital coins is still pretty low though.

Less than 8 percent of Americans own cryptocurrencies, according to a new study by personal finance website Finder.com.

The site surveyed 2,000 adults in the United States in February.

The results show the hype around cryptocurrencies is not yet mirrored by reality, said Aswath Damodaran, who teaches finance and valuation at the New York University Stern School of Business.

"Bitcoin has taken over the public imagination," Damodaran said. "But it's a very small phenomenon."

He pointed out that the market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies (below $400 billion) is less than half the market cap of one company: Apple, which has a market capitalization of more than $900 billion.

The most popular cryptocurrency is bitcoin, with an estimated 5 percent of Americans owning some.

The share of Americans who own several other well-known digital coins underscores how far these currencies have to go: Less than 2 percent of Americans own Ethereum and less than 1 percent own Ripple, the survey found.

More than 40 percent of Americans who hadn't purchased cryptocurrencies said their reason was disinterest or believing there is no need to do so. Another 35 percent said the risk is too high, according to the survey

To that point, 27 percent of people said it's too difficult to understand and another 18 percent said they believe it's a scam.

"We're spending so much time on [cryptocurrencies] as if half of Americans have their wealth in bitcoin," Damodaran said.

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