While the reach of cryptocurrencies has expanded over the past decade, its recent volatility has left many Americans wondering if it is worth investing. A recent YouGov poll showed that many more Americans see it as a bad investment rather than a good one. While few are concerned about the potential impact of cryptocurrencies on the environment, many support increased regulation and believe that cryptocurrencies are being used for illegal purposes such as money laundering. As far as widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies is concerned, we have not seen much change in the views of Americans over the past five years. While nearly one in three believe they will be widespread in the next decade, far fewer people see them as an alternative to cash or think the U.S. should develop a cryptocurrency.
Awareness and personal experience
Most Americans (80%) have some understanding of cryptocurrencies, although only one in five (21%) say they have heard much about it. Men are more likely than women to say they have heard a lot about cryptocurrency, and Americans under 45 are more likely to say they know it very well than older people. Three-quarters of Americans who have heard of cryptocurrency say they have heard of its recent crash as well.
Americans are divided on the potential of cryptocurrencies for wider public acceptance. Roughly equal shares say it will become fairly or very widely adopted in the next 10 years (31%) and say it will not be very or not at all widely adopted (30%). When we asked a similar question in 2017, Americans expressed a similar opinion about the future of cryptocurrencies: 35% thought it would be accepted in some way, and 28% thought it would not.
Only one in ten Americans (11%) believe that cryptocurrency will eventually replace cash in the United States. The same number – 11% – say that the country should create a national cryptocurrency.
Is cryptocurrency considered a good investment? Few (13%) consider it a very good or fairly good investment, while many (41%) consider it a bad investment. Despite the recent troubles at many crypto companies, people who currently own crypto generally remain optimistic about investing in it, with almost half (47%) considering it a good investment, 20% considering it a bad investment, and 29% considering it bad. neither good. nor bad. (This does not include people who have owned a cryptocurrency but have sold it, and may have a more negative view of its investment potential.) People who have never owned a cryptocurrency are much less positive, with only 6% saying it is a good investment, while 44 % believe that this is not the case. bad investment.
The government has cracked down on a number of cryptocurrency scams over the past few months, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reporting that Americans have lost more than $1 billion since 2021, significantly more than in previous years. When asked if the majority of crypto businesses are legitimate businesses or scams, about as many Americans say most of them are scams (20%) than they say they are mostly legal (16%). Every fourth (25%) believes that it is approximately equal: half are real, half are fraudulent.
Are Americans concerned about the potential impact of cryptocurrencies on the environment? Not particularly. Only 18% of Americans believe that cryptocurrencies are bad for the environment, 9% say they are beneficial, and 30% think they are neither good nor bad. People who own cryptocurrencies are more likely to have an opinion on the matter, and those who own cryptocurrencies are almost evenly divided about its environmental impact as positive (27%) and negative (24%).
A common problem with cryptocurrencies is its ability to facilitate illegal activities, including illegal dark web purchases and money laundering. When asked about this possibility in our last survey, Americans were divided, with 18% saying that cryptocurrency is primarily used for illegal purchases, while 15% say it is primarily used for legal purchases. Others are unsure or divided: 22% say it is used for legal purchases half the time and illegal purchases the other half. When we last asked a similar question in 2017, Americans expressed similar opinions, although back then they talked a little more about the fact that cryptocurrency is mainly used for illegal purposes than today.
Between 43% and 4% of Americans believe that cryptocurrencies make it easier, not harder, for criminals to launder money; 13% say it doesn’t make them easier or harder.
About a third of Americans (36%) believe crypto should be subject to more government regulation, while fewer say it should be less regulated (8%) or say there should be no rule changes (14%) . People who currently own crypto are less supportive of regulation than Americans in general, with 29% wanting more regulation, 20% wanting less, and 38% wanting no change.
Despite pushing for stronger regulation, more Americans believe crypto should be legal most or all of the time (32%) than they say it should be illegal most or all of the time (16%).
— Carl Bialik contributed to this article.
This survey was conducted July 18-21, 2022 among 1,000 US adults. Learn more about the methodology and data for this survey.
Image: Kanchanara on Unsplash