DigitalizationGrowing interest but continued skepticism about cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin & Co.

Following the rapid price development of so-called cryptocurrencies in recent months, both the German digital association Bitkom as well as the British Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have now published new consumer studies on this topic. The share of consumers who have already invested in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum is comparatively low in Germany (three percent) and the United Kingdom (four percent), but openness to crypto investments is increasing.

In Germany, Bitkom Research surveyed a total of 1,004 people aged 16 and older by telephone on behalf of the digital association Bitkom about their relationship with cryptocurrencies. The FCA, in turn, based its research on a UK representative panel of 1,140 respondents who were considered so-called crypto users, meaning they have already bought or sold cryptocurrencies and may hold crypto assets.

Cryptocurrencies from a consumer perspective in Germany:

  • Three percent of German consumers have already bought cryptocurrencies directly, and another four percent invested indirectly via corresponding funds or ETFs that specialize in cryptocurrencies.
  • At 69 percent, the majority of respondents said they had no confidence in cryptocurrencies and assessed them as speculative objects to make a quick buck (68 percent).
  • At the same time, one-third of respondents assumed that cryptocurrencies were suitable as a long-term financial investment and one-fifth even saw them as a safe alternative to the established monetary system.
  • Meanwhile, 82 percent of German consumers have already heard or read about cryptocurrencies – compared to 68 percent in 2019.

These are the findings on crypto assets in the United Kingdom:

  • Between 2020 and 2021, the number of people who owned cryptocurrencies increased to an estimated 2.3 million – a 0.5 percent points increase to 4.4 percent. The amount of crypto assets held on average increased from £260 to £300.
  • 38 percent of crypto users continue to use virtual currencies as a speculative asset – compared to 47 percent in 2020.
  • Enthusiasm for crypto assets increased: at 53 percent, more than half of users said they had a positive experience with crypto assets and intended to continue investing in them – an increase compared to 41 percent in 2020.

Patrick Hansen, Head of Blockchain at Bitkom, noted: "The last one or two years have been characterized by the institutionalization and regulation of the crypto market. For the majority of private investors in Germany, this has not yet led to a surge in confidence. Those who do invest do so in particular for long-term financial investment and not primarily to use cryptocurrencies as a means of payment. In this context, cryptocurrencies are used similar to gold, for example, as an alternative asset class for risk diversification. Before investing, one should look into the advantages and disadvantages of the different ways - and of course everyone should be aware that these investments are risky."

Sheldon Mills, FCA’s Executive Director, Consumers and Competition said: "The research highlights increased interest in cryptoassets among UK customers. The market has continued to grow, and some investors have benefitted as prices have risen. However it is important for customers to understand that because these products are largely unregulated that if something goes wrong they are unlikely to have access to the FSCS or the Financial Ombudsman Service. If consumers invest in these types of products, they should be prepared to lose all their money."

Source: Bitkom & FCA

More information and the FCA press release