Only 12% of American adults used crypto in 2021, and the demographic gap between those who invested in it and those who used it in transactions was enormous.
The United States Federal Reserve Board has included data on cryptocurrency in its new Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in the 2021 report. The Fed’s ninth annual report looked at survey results from 11,000 people questioned in October and November 2021.
The report indicated financial wellbeing is the highest it has been since reporting began, with 78% of U.S. adults “doing okay or living comfortably financially.” That is an increase of 3% over the last three years. As a diagnostic of financial fitness, the report cites the 68% of Americans who say they could cover a $400 emergency expense using cash or its equivalent alone.
The report looked at cryptocurrency usage for the first time. It found that 12% of U.S. adults held or used crypto in 2020, with 11% holding it as an investment, 2% using it for a purchase or payment and 1% sending it to friends or family. Investors holding crypto “were disproportionately high-income, almost always had a traditional banking relationship, and typically had other retirement savings.” Forty-six percent had annual incomes of $100,000 or more and 89% of those who were not retired had retirement savings. Twenty-nine percent had incomes under $50,000.
The profile of the typical user making transactions with crypto differs starkly from investors. The report claimed that almost 60% of these users had incomes below $50,000, with 20% having incomes under $25,000. Only 24% had incomes above $100,000. Thirteen percent did not have a bank account. That compares with the 6% of adult Americans who lack bank accounts. Twenty-seven percent of those who used crypto for transactions did not have credit cards, compared to 17% of the total population.
Those who used crypto for transactions faced other disadvantages as well. Almost a quarter did not have a high school diploma, according to the results of the report.