Bitcoin: Americans know about cryptocurrency but most aren't interested in investing

Names like bitcoin (BTC-USD), dogecoin (DOGE-USD), ethereum (ETH-USD), and litecoin (LITE-USD) are entrenching themselves in the financial and cultural lexicon.

But most people are not ready to take the cryptocurrency plunge, a new poll suggests.

A YouGov survey of 1,715 U.S. adults, conducted exclusively for Yahoo, found that 89% of respondents had heard of bitcoin and a clear majority (57%) of those who were aware would not invest in any cryptocurrency. (The poll, conducted July 13-15, 2021, had a margin of error of ±2.7%.)

Of the respondents who had heard of bitcoin, 13% said they personally owned cryptocurrency and 27% said they would consider investing in cryptocurrency. Another 16% were unsure whether they would ever consider buying in.

Bitcoin, in particular, is seeing a growing number of adopters among companies big and small. Marquee names like Goldman Sachs (GS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) are dabbling in bitcoin in various ways, and Amazon (AMZN) is reportedly toying with accepting crypto payments — speculation that sent digital coins on a tear early Monday.

Tesla (TSLA) previously began accepting bitcoin as payment, but CEO Elon Musk sparked a firestorm — and a bitcoin sell-off — when he summarily walked back that support a few weeks later.

The YouGov poll found that 37% of respondents thought that cryptocurrency will disrupt the stock market, with another 20% disagreeing and 45% saying they weren’t sure.

Bitcoin's biggest investors want to 'fix the money'

In theory, the rise of digital transactions — and the precipitous drop in the use of cash — should make it easier for consumers to shift toward crypto.

One of the chief arguments in favor of cryptocurrency is that a combination of super-accommodative central bank liquidity and runaway government outlays are feeding surging inflation, thereby hastening the decline of paper money.

Bitcoin’s most vocal evangelists, including prominent investor Anthony Pompliano, have argued that digital currencies are the only plausible alternative.

“An entire generation is growing up with the awareness that the devaluation of their currency is leading to an inability to get ahead,” Pompliano wrote last week in his daily newsletter. “People feel like they can’t afford the basics.”

He continued: “If we fix the money, we have a chance to fix the world. We can lift billions of people out of poverty. We can return to free markets where everyone has an opportunity to build a life of wealth, happiness, and freedom. That is what most people want — to simply build a better life for themselves and their families.”

Representations of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple, and Litecoin are seen in front of a displayed Binance logo in this illustration taken, June 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Representations of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple, and Litecoin are seen in front of a displayed Binance logo in this illustration taken, June 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The YouGov polling data suggests that retail buyers are still far from sold on bitcoin’s upsides as a currency, meaning that crypto proselytizers have their work cut out for them.

Most respondents who had heard of bitcoin did not see the digital currency as part of everyday life: 62% said cryptocurrency would not be useful in an everyday setting, while 14% said that it would be and 24% were unsure.

A small number of merchants and providers have begun accepting crypto for services rendered, but digital currencies are still enormously volatile. As a result, cryptocurrency doesn’t quite pass the stable currency test — especially when daily moves can easily hit double-digits in percentage terms.

Most venues where people shop and conduct their business regularly — the grocery store, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and places of residence — still haven’t adopted bitcoin for payment.

El Salvador, which recently adopted bitcoin as legal tender, provides a test case of what happens when a society fully embraces crypto. Confusion has reportedly ensued in the Central American country since the government made the decision, and the country’s consumers and business owners simply haven’t derived the benefit from transacting in the digital currency.

Javier is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter.

Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit