In brief

  • Research by the Bank for International Settlements finds that crypto investors don’t hate banks after all.
  • Those who are anti-fiat check out crypto but don’t end up investing in it, according to the study.
  • The study also shows that it’s the digital nativity, like using mobile banking apps, that increases your odds of investing in crypto.

What leads people down the crypto rabbit hole? Not a vitriolic hatred of cash or Wall Street, found researchers at the Bank for International Settlements, a consortium of central banks, but more prosaic things: staying up to date with technology, being male, and one’s education.

In one of its latest papers, published on Thursday, the BIS used statistical analysis to disprove the theory that crypto investors are “motivated by distrust in fiat currencies or regulated finance.”

The analysts scraped data from a survey conducted by the U.S. Survey of Consumer Payment Choice, which asked 3,273 people to rate the security and convenience of cash, bank payments and online payments out of five.


It turns out that people do trust cash and banks and online payments apps. Responses averaged from 2.7 to 4.

And although people who gave lower ratings to traditional banking tech tended to learn about cryptocurrencies, they weren’t any more likely to invest in them.

So, who actually invests in internet money?

People who use technology: Debit card holders were 1.9 percentage points more likely to invest in crypto, PayPal users 2 percentage points more likely, and mobile payments apps 3.5 percentage points more likely.

In other words, a large proportion of Americans are slightly more likely to fall down the crypto hole than the rest. In the US, four-fifths have debit cards, a quarter have used payments apps and almost 40% have used PayPal in the past year. Men were more likely to invest in crypto, too.


Education can indicate which cryptocurrencies someone might invest in. XRP investors are the most educated while Litecoiners are the least. Bitcoiners rank in the middle.

Once they invest in crypto, coiners tend to converge on one “persistent trait,” found the researchers: the desire to HODL. Owning crypto increases the probability, on average, of holding a coin the next year by more than 50%.


The views and opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice.

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