Since the early 2010s, the rise of so-called cryptocurrencies has received significant attention from financial market participants, policymakers, and academics. Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies (such as bitcoin, Ethererum, Litecoin, and many others) in which transactions are verified and records are maintained by a decentralized, distributed ledger system using cryptography, rather than by a centralized authority.
Cryptocurrency markets gained a reputation for high volatility in recent years, with rapid price increases and decreases over relatively short periods; however, prices have on net trended up significantly since the beginning of 2019, leading to a perception of cryptocurrencies as lucrative investment vehicles. In January 2022, the Consumer Finance Institute (CFI) at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, in conjunction with economists from the Federal Reserve Board, included questions relating to cryptocurrency ownership and opinions in Wave 11 of the CFI COVID-19 Survey of Consumers. The goal was to establish a baseline understanding of the penetration that cryptocurrencies have achieved among the survey population and to identify differences in adoption and attitude across demographic groups.
This research brief presents the findings from the January 2022 survey. Future survey work will be crucial in generating data to evaluate any impact that market changes in 2022 have had on these metrics.