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BIS Rules Out Distrust in Mainstream Finance as Crypto Driver

People with more security concerns about fiat money may seek information about crypto, but ultimately decide not to invest.

Jul 2, 2021 at 9:50 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:20 p.m. UTC

Crypto investment in the U.S. is not driven by a distrust of the mainstream financial industry, but by the chance for a profit, according to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), an organization that represents most of the world’s central banks.

Cryptocurrencies are "not sought as an alternative to fiat currencies or regulated finance, but instead are a niche digital speculation project," the BIS said in a report released Thursday.

The paper, "Distrust or speculation? The socioeconomic drivers of US cryptocurrency investments," explored whether crypto is popular because of distrust in mainstream finance.

The BIS said it could preliminarily rule out that idea, because it found there's no difference in the perceived security of cash and offline and online banking between crypto and non-crypto owners. People with more security concerns about fiat money may seek information about crypto, but ultimately decide not to invest, the paper suggested.

Crypto owners are more likely to find cash and traditional banking services less convenient, though that doesn't apply to online banking.

A higher level of education increases the likelihood of owning crypto, the BIS found. That's in line with wider financial markets, where participation increases by 2% with each extra year of education. Participation in crypto markets is consistent with that, the BIS said.

Crypto owners also have above-average household incomes.

Breaking down trends across different crypto assets, the paper finds that XRP and ether owners are likely to be the most educated, with litecoin owners the least. Bitcoin ranks in the middle. Owners of XRP and ETH, along with stellar, are also likely to be the wealthiest crypto owners.

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