The Federal Reserve has issued its annual report examining the financial lives of US residents, and it indicates Americans are more likely to use cryptocurrency as an investment tool than a purchasing mechanism.
The Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2021 report is based on the Fed Board's ninth annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, which was circulated in October and November of 2021. For the first time, the ensuing report contained data on crypto use.
In 2021, 12% of surveyed adults held or used cryptocurrency, according to the report. The data showed that crypto is favored as an investment tool over a transactional one, with only two percent of adults using it for purchases and one percent to send money to friends or family.
It also concluded that lower-income adults were more likely to use crypto for transactional purposes. Thirteen percent of those who used crypto for these types of transactions lacked traditional bank accounts and 27% did not have a credit card. Nearly 6 in 10 adults who use crypto transactionally had an income under $50,000 and only 24% had an income of more than $100,000.
In contrast, those who held crypto for investment purposes were "disproportionately high-income, almost always had a traditional banking relationship, and typically had other retirement savings," according to the report. Indeed, 46% had an income of $100,000 or more, while 29% had an income of under $50,000. Nearly all, 99%, had a bank account.
The research was conducted prior to the Omicron variant surge in 2021. The Fed recognized that this and other changes to the economic landscape could have affected the outcome of the study had the research occurred later.
Still, the report indicated that self-reported financial well-being was at its highest level since the survey began in 2013.