Young, pale, techie and male. Anecdotally, this has been the make up of bitcoin's core community since the cryptocurrency began, at least if media reports and Internet chatter are to be believed.
But in 2015, is this still an accurate reflection of its user base worldwide? In our latest research report – Who Really Uses Bitcoin? – we put this theory to the test.
Analysing nearly 4,000 responses received in our multilingual survey, likely the largest in bitcoin's history, the 45-page report provides an in-depth look at who is using bitcoin, who isn't and why that matters.
But more than that, this report attempts to identify ways in which the community that uses the cryptocurrency can expand its reach, moving beyond the current demographic to new groups, with different cultures, economic status and needs.
- A complete profile of the average bitcoin user by age, gender, location and background.
- Detailed consumer spending data – how are people acquiring and using their bitcoin?
- Tips for companies expanding bitcoin's technology to emerging markets and underrepresented groups.
- Expert insight on bitcoin's "branding problem" and why improving accessibility is critical.
At a glance
By and large, the survey's responses paint a picture faithful to the young, white, tech-savvy men that have become the 'poster boys' of bitcoin.
Of the 3,515 respondents who told us they owned bitcoin, almost 60% were under 35 years old.
Despite a growing number of initiatives such as Bitcoin Women's Day, women using bitcoin are still a minority, with over 90% of bitcoin users in our survey identifying as male. Though this figure is a minuscule improvement (5.2%) from the male majority seen in previous surveys.
With regards to race, 65.8% of respondents in the survey identified as 'White'. Second came 'Asian'.
While these figures reinforce the young, white, male stereotype, other findings – such as average income – are more surprising. The question of average earnings providing a very even split across all earning brackets. Those earning $50,000–$100,000 came top, at 23.9%. One in five said their household income was below $25,000.
While many are tech-savvy, the notion of bitcoin users being 'early adopters' of technology also stumbled into trouble. Three quarters of respondents said they got into bitcoin after May 2013, and one third began using bitcoin in the last year.
This data, like any, has its limitations. The four web surveys – offered in Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and English – were propagated across various local interest groups, but were predominantly accessed via CoinDesk's main site and social media platforms.
For this reason, responses are largely linked to our North American and European readership and do not necessarily reflect the profile of bitcoin users outside these regions. For example, our Chinese language survey received comparatively few responses, though there are known to be many cryptocurrency users in the region.
We have not weighted the results to compensate for this imbalance, but present the findings of the survey as-is.
In terms of the location of respondents, 49.85% were based in North America, followed by 32.99% in Europe and 9.36% in Asia.
CoinDesk provides world-leading news, analysis and information on digital currencies. Our unique position in the space gives us the opportunity to provide research and in-depth analysis on the pressing issues that surround one of the most exciting emerging technologies around.
Who Really Uses Bitcoin? is the third report in our research series. It follows Cryptocurrency 2.0, an inside look at the companies expanding blockchain technology beyond currency, and the Bitcoin Regulation Report, a primer on the legality of bitcoin worldwide.
Priced at $99, Who Really Uses Bitcoin? is available for purchase on CoinDesk's research page. Bitcoin payments are supported.
Survey image via Shutterstock