American citizens are more likely to own cryptocurrency than stocks, and many believe that crypto will replace the dollar within a decade.
That’s the finding of a new survey by California-based personal finance website, CreditDonkey. It surveyed 1,000 American adults in May, and found that 73 percent owned some form of cryptocurrency, but only 64 percent owned shares.
Crypto investments were more prevalent among so-called Generation Z investors – broadly those reaching adulthood in the 2010s – than among older Generation X and Boomer investors.
The survey found that 78 percent of Gen Zers own some form of cryptocurrency and just 58 percent have invested in traditional stocks, versus 48 percent crypto and 54 percent stocks among Boomers.
The figures make challenging reading for the traditional investment community.
Nearly three-quarters of CreditDonkey’s respondents expect cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Cardano, to replace the US dollar. Overall, 20 percent expect this to happen in the next ten years.
To mitigate against the perceived threat to traditional currency and world financial systems, several countries, including the UK, the US, and EU member states, are investigating the launch of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), ‘stablecoin’ versions of sterling, the dollar, and the euro.
China has already released experimental quantities of the digital yuan, an early move that some economists fear may give it power over world currency markets, by forcing trading partners to use the coin.
Some cryptocurrencies, such as Tether (USDT) and the USD Coin (USDC), are stablecoins that are pegged to the value of the US dollar, meaning that 1 USDT / 1 USDC is always worth $1.
This makes them less prone to rollercoaster changes in value – a characteristic of Bitcoin and other tokens – and less attractive to currency speculators and organised criminals. However, it is interesting that Tether – generally considered less transparent than the USD Coin – has a much higher market capitalisation.
Nearly half of CreditDonkey’s respondents are in favour of decentralised finance (DeFi), a model that does not rely on traditional brokerages and other institutions, and instead favours distributed ledgers, such as blockchains, and smart contracts.
Proponents of cryptocurrencies and other alternative, token-based models claim that they are fairer and more transparent than traditional banking and investment – a form of ‘people’s finance’.
However, research from Cambridge University’s Centre for Alternative Finance reveals that while the technology itself is decentralised, nearly two-thirds of Bitcoin mining takes place in China, so a clear centre of gravity exists in a system that is supposedly free from geopolitics.
The overwhelming majority of Bitcoin mining – roughly 85 percent – takes place in Asia and former Soviet states in Eastern Europe, according to Cambridge’s findings.
Concerns have also been raised about the energy consumption and carbon footprint of proof-of-work blockchains (such as the one used by Bitcoin), and the anonymity of wallet holders making crypto trading attractive to money launderers and organised criminals.
Some economists and bankers argue that the extreme volatility of tokens such as Bitcoin – which lost one-third of its value in a single day last month – mitigates against their use as money. At the time of writing, Bitcoin’s value has surged into the green again.
The coin has won the support of some institutional investors, such as hedge fund Tudor Investment Corporation.
“I like Bitcoin. Bitcoin is math, and math has been around for thousands of years,” said billionaire CEO Paul Tudor Jones this week.
“I like the idea of investing in something that’s reliable, consistent, honest and 100 percent certain.” Not words that are usually associated with the token.
Some of the world’s richest men, such as SpaceX and Tesla supremo Elon Musk, have proved adept at influencing the crypto market directly via social media, demonstrating that it is far more vulnerable to the interests of powerful individuals than proponents claim.
May’s ‘Black Wednesday’ for crypto was partly caused by Musk tweeting that Tesla would stop accepting Bitcoin payments over environmental concerns, while its surge in mid-June was in part triggered by another tweet suggesting he would reconsider that position.
But what can be done about the extreme volatility and unpredictability of Bitcoin and similar coins? A notable finding in the CreditDonkey survey is that over half of respondents (53 percent) favour stronger regulation of cryptocurrencies, with less than 20 percent actively opposing it.
The number wanting tough regulation increases among wealthier investors: 47 percent of those earning less than $100k a year favour more regulation, versus 53 percent of those earning $100-$150k, and 67 percent earning over $150k.
Nearly 20 percent of all investors wish they could keep their coins in a traditional bank.
The above findings reveal that, for all the talk of cryptocurrency being a radical alternative to traditional finance and the petrodollar – one that resets the global balance in favour of ‘the little guy’ – the market is prone to the same problems that it seeks to solve.
It has become the plaything of billionaires, hedge funds, and powerful nations, such as China, where fast, cheap processors and large, organised mining pools are plentiful.
If accurate, the survey findings prove that many crypto investors are deeply conservative and yearn for the market to be more like traditional finance.
Some – like Tudor – see it as a portfolio play, alongside gold and commodities, and have zero interest in networked digital rebellion, though many love to talk the talk.
But until the regulators step in, those investors want to get rich quick by playing a global fruit machine. Nothing really changes in finance, it seems.
CreditDonkey has not disclosed whether respondents were customers of its website, and so perhaps more likely than other Americans to make speculative investment decisions, including in cryptocurrencies.
The future of cryptocurrency and blockchain is one of the key agenda items at this year’s CogX festival, which takes place online this week.