Image of a mobile phone user with bitcoin logos superimposed

Cryptocurrency: Who’s investing?

Sep 14, 2022
Empower Institute

Interest in cryptocurrency remains as markets evolve

Cryptocurrency has gone from a newfangled novelty to being seemingly everywhere in just a few years. Consumers buy things with it, financial news shows stream the price of it on their screens, companies hold it in their portfolios and celebrities tweet about it.

Given the seeming ubiquity of cryptocurrency, or crypto, it’s important to fully understand what it is. In this research brief, we explore who is investing in cryptocurrency, crypto investors’ confidence in the economy and their personal financial situations, and their willingness to make changes in their financial strategies and lives.

What is cryptocurrency?


  • Is a digital currency that many people invest in like shares of stock. While it can be used like other currencies to buy goods and services from companies that accept crypto, it doesn’t exist in a physical form like paper money.
  • Is decentralized, meaning it isn’t backed or regulated by any bank, government or regulatory institution.
  • Is powered by blockchain, a huge, decentralized digital database that records details of every crypto transaction using encryption techniques to verify the transactions and keep the assets secure.

Crypto owner demographics

Based on Empower and Personal Capital’s Wealth and Wellness Mid-Year Survey 2022:

  • Roughly one in five (19%) respondents own some form of cryptocurrency.
  • Crypto owners are more likely to be male, millennials, non-white Americans and higher-income earners (>$100K).
  • Feel more financially secure regarding their retirement savings and investment portfolios than those not owning crypto.

Crypto owners are more confident
(Percent feeling financially secure about…)

chart - Crypto owners feeling more confident about
  • Many crypto owners have either made significant changes in their financial strategy, such as changing their risk tolerance or investment approach (70%) or plan to do so before the end of the year.
  • As a general rule, crypto owners are more likely than their counterparts to make big changes in their professional lives, such as changing jobs or starting work in a new career. 

Anticipating the future of crypto

The cryptocurrency market has cooled markedly so far in 2022. Yet despite what some observers call a “crypto winter,” interest in digital assets remains. Plan sponsors, intermediaries and others should continue to monitor both the cryptocurrency market and the behaviors and preferences of crypto investors as these markets evolve as well as the evolving regulatory environment impacting crypto.

Download the research brief for a more detailed look at crypto investors.

Cryptocurrency research paper thumbnail





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