Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto via Getty Images
According to a survey published by the University of Chicago, more than one in ten Americans invested in cryptocurrencies in the past year, a sign of the popularity of digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Specifically, 13% have bought or traded crypto in the past 12 months – by comparison, according to the survey, 24% of Americans invested in stocks over the same period.
Investors were likely spurred on by a surge in crypto prices earlier this year. According to NORC, a research group at the university that published the survey, most crypto investors (61%) have shopped in the past six months.
More from Personal Finance:
The national eviction ban ends in 9 days
These summer activities can affect your taxes
How to tap your home for cash
Bitcoin peaked at around $ 63,000 in mid-April, up 116% from about $ 29,000 in early 2021.
Coinbase, the largest digital currency exchange in the United States, went public in mid-April. Celebrities like Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk have also expressed their enthusiasm for crypto investments. In May, Tesla announced it would accept Bitcoin as a means of payment for vehicle purchases. (Musk has since suspended these plans due to environmental concerns related to Bitcoin mining.)
However, digital currencies can also fluctuate greatly in value.
By Friday morning, Bitcoin had fallen to around $ 32,000 – about half of its April high, but still up about 10% for the year.
This volatility has led some financial experts to label crypto as a speculative asset. Financial advisors generally recommend crypto investors only to allocate a small portion of their portfolio to it.
"Potential investors are wary of investing their retirement savings in what has been a volatile asset to date," said Mark Lush, who leads NORC's behavioral and economic analysis and decision-making team.
"Cryptocurrencies may have staying power as an investment option, but we suspect that they will continue to lag behind more traditional investment options for the foreseeable future," he said.
Only 11% of those who do not invest in cryptocurrency said they would have an extreme or low probability of starting trading in the next 12 months, the survey found.
According to the survey, crypto investors tended to be younger and more diverse in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity compared to retail investors.
The average crypto investor is 38 years old while stock investors are 47 years old.
Forty-one percent of women, 44% of black investors, and 35% of those earning less than $ 60,000 a year have traded cryptocurrencies over the past year – higher respective stocks than the 38%, 35% and 27% who traded stocks.
Graduated investors tended to favor stocks, however – 51% traded stocks last year versus 45% for crypto.
The University of Chicago poll polled a nationally representative sample of 1,004 American adults June 24-28.