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Navigating cryptocurrency: Understanding the market and demand

  • Consumers are clearly interested in holding cryptocurrency, and evidence shows they’re particularly interested in holding it with their trusted financial institution
  • Providing cryptocurrency solutions can be a valuable tool for attracting consumers and gives financial institutions the tools to grow noninterest income
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Navigating cryptocurrency: Understanding the market and demand

This is part one of a three part series by Fiserv promoting their latest point of view paper, Three Cryptocurrency Actions for Financial Institutions.

Understanding the cryptocurrency market

According to PYMNTS.com, nearly three-quarters of consumers view cryptocurrency as an investment opportunity. Consumers aren’t viewing cryptocurrency solely as an investment, however. The study also found 60 percent of current and former holders want to transact with it. 

Younger and middle-income individuals currently make up a significant percentage of cryptocurrency holders. The PYMNTS.com report indicates that 19 percent of millennials and 16 percent of middle-income consumers, defined as those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, currently own cryptocurrencies. On the whole, the report shows that approximately 12 percent of all U.S. consumers, a projected 30 million Americans, own cryptocurrency. 

Additionally, emerging evidence shows that cryptocurrency may be a more accessible investment than traditional stock market vehicles. According to a July 2021 study from NORC at the University of Chicago, there are considerable demographic differences between cryptocurrency and retail stock traders. The data indicates that cryptocurrencies may open and diversify investing opportunities for women, investors of color and investors with annual household incomes below $60,000. 

As cryptocurrency acceptance has risen, consumer preferences have emerged for accessing and interacting with cryptocurrency through their financial institutions. According to a January NYDIG report: 

  • Fifty-one percent of non-bitcoin holders want to learn more about bitcoin through their financial institution 
  • Eighty percent of bitcoin holders would choose to store it with their financial institution if offered.

Understanding cryptocurrency demand

Those findings, from multiple sources, indicate that cryptocurrency solutions offer a valuable opportunity for financial institutions to embrace and meet consumers’ emerging needs, especially those of younger and broader consumer segments including women, people of color and lower income individuals. 

Financial institutions can leverage the trust accountholders have in them and provide their customers or members an avenue to participate in this ever-evolving industry. Providing educational materials to help consumers learn about cryptocurrency and explore ways to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrency are two ways financial institutions can signal to consumers that their financial institution is committed to meeting their needs in this new space. 

Furthermore, providing cryptocurrency solutions for consumers can boost financial institutions’ bottom-line results by increasing noninterest income through fees charged on cryptocurrency services. Cryptocurrency solutions can offer a valuable revenue stream for financial institutions in the current low-interest rate environment, which is projected to endure for the foreseeable future. 

To date, many cryptocurrency use cases have centered on holding it as an asset, but it’s critical to think about second- and third-level effects as consumers begin to accumulate cryptocurrency. As amounts build, so will the need to transfer cryptocurrency to family and friends and use it to purchase items. 

The PYMNTS.com report shows a healthy appetite among U.S. consumers for using cryptocurrency to make purchases:

  • Ninety-three percent of cryptocurrency owners would consider making purchases with it in the future 
  • As many as 46 million consumers (18 percent of the adult population) would consider using cryptocurrency for retail purchases, regardless of whether they currently own cryptocurrencies

For more insights and action items for financial institutions and businesses navigating the cryptocurrency venture as it gains popularity, download Fiserv’s latest point of view paper.

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