Despite the year-long bear market, Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry are both still making great strides in public perception. The days of Bitcoin being viewed as a vehicle for the illicit drug trade are long gone – the cryptocurrency boom of late 2017 helped dispel the final vestiges of these views. As Bitcoin’s price spiked, it became a household word. Indeed, the tail end of the boom was likely caused by the sudden influx of new investors.
If the market had continued to rise, moved sideways or even slowly ramped down over the course of 2017, the newfound perception may have held fast. As it is, the crypto-crash introduced a new public opinion – Bitcoin is too risky. While it is important to appreciate the volatility of a new asset class, the 80-90% drop in value for most coins soured many of those new investors. General adoption never stopped being an uphill battle, but the crypto-crash sharply increased the hill’s gradient.
Bitcoin Engagement Comparison
The cryptocurrency’s closest comparison will always be the traditional stock market. As such, comparing the raw numbers can give a glimpse at where we stand on public adoption. A small majority of Americans own stock – approximately 52% of the total population. Given the current population of the United States, 52% amounts to just under 171 million people. If we use Bitcoin as an indicator of the cryptocurrency market, there are a total of 35 million wallet addresses. This is a global statistic and does not take into account those that own multiple wallets.
If every Bitcoin wallet belonged to an American citizen, it would put participation at a paltry 10%. The reality is much lower – but this should be viewed as opportunity to grow. Cryptocurrency remains a completely new form of investing, and the number of participants is constantly rising. In 2013, only 8 million addresses existed, only a quarter of the amount now in existence.
Bitcoin Versus the Lottery
If the general public perceives Bitcoin as too risky of an investment, then is the number roughly comparable to other risky enterprises? Bitcoin’s market cap is currently floating around $63.5 billion, a considerable drop from the all-time highs of January 2018. Meanwhile, in 2017 alone, US citizens spent $73.5 billion on lottery tickets. This amount was spread between half of the adult population of the United States.
Cryptocurrency volatility may be preventing the introduction of institutional money into the space, but it is certainly a better investment vehicle than the lottery. Thus, the prevailing belief that cryptocurrency investment is ‘little better than gambling’ is disingenuous at best. Should the market recover in a slower, healthier manner, this misconception may finally be put to rest.
Article By: Adam Stone