1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”
It’s commonly known that younger generations tend to be more enthusiastic adopters of new technology. It’s easy to see why – younger people are more hungry to learn, are still forming habits, and have more to gain (and less to lose) from technological revolution.
So it’s worth casting my own resistance to crypto through this lens. I have always been an enthusiastic adopter of the internet and technology, and that attitude has served me very well; I owe my livelihood to it. It would be easy for me to jump on the Web3 bandwagon and go all-in on crypto.
Or would it?
I’m heading rapidly towards middle age, and certainly not as flexible as I used to be. Is my anti-crypto sentiment simply a natural resistance to change? Had I been this age when the internet was invented, would I have been such an enthusiastic adopter?
Do Your Own Research
The first data point I found on crypto adoption by age was from Pew Research Center. According to their research, 31% of people aged 18-29 in the US have invested/traded in or used a cryptocurrency, compared to 21% of my demographic – 30-49. So it would appear from this that millennials are less-likely to invest than gen-Z:
But it’s worth noting that had I taken this survey, I’d be considered an adopter, despite my opposition, as I have used cryptocurrencies in the past. This survey is really testing awareness, not sentiment.
Finding a better one
Finder.com have done a much more detailed survey, with more responses: Key UK crypto adoption trends for January 2022. On sentiment in the UK:
The survey found the United Kingdom ranks 23rd out of 23 countries in regard to positivity around cryptocurrency, with 17% of respondents saying they think cryptocurrency is a good investment. This is lower than the global average of 43%Crypto sentiment in the United Kingdom [Finder.com]
What I also found interesting, is that increased positivity correlates highly with the corruption perceptions index. This makes intuitive sense – if you think the financial system in your country is corrupt, you’re more likely to view alternative systems favourably.
But why the particularly strong negative sentiment in the UK? Could that explain my own negative attitude? More research would be needed to know for certain, but I’d hypothesise that it’s a combination of relatively high transparency and a strong financial services sector. The UK is leading the world in fintech in many ways, and alternative money systems are simply less attractive in this environment, because the existing system functions well enough. Higher corruption is not a price worth paying, particularly when it functions worse.
Unfortunately, the Finder research doesn’t break down sentiment by age, but it does break down ownership by age (the chart is tall, so I’ve cut off the bottom – but black is 18-34, dark blue is 35-54, and light blue is 55+):
Compared to other countries, the UK and US have a fairly even spread, and from this breakdown it would appear that Gen-Z in the UK and US are even less likely than millennials to own crypto, although 35 is a somewhat awkward boundary as it lumps older millennials (“xennials”) such as myself with Gen-X.
So what have I found?
I went off on a bit of a tangent here, spending as much time on country statistics as age, simply because I found better data on it. But nonetheless, I’m comfortable that my age is not a significant factor in my attitude to crypto – in fact my own cohort in the Finder research is the highest adopter. The UK is an advanced financial market though, with strong consumer protections, and the country statistics have shown that it’s worth tempering my attitudes by considering the state of financial services in other countries.
But even in the worst circumstances, is a hyper-capitalist, easily-manipulated, coal-burning currency any better? In less-transparent countries, you could argue that you’re spreading the corruption risk globally, thus diluting any corruption (and inflation) in your own country. But that’s simply swapping local corruption for global coin-holder corruption, and you could very reasonably argue that this would drain more wealth from these countries than local investments. Even if it did prove better, a less-bad solution still isn’t good, and it’s an even harder case to make in high-transparency western nations.
At the end of the day though, I am no expert on corruption, or the economies of low-transparency nations. I can only argue the effects that I observe in my own market, and the technical details that I can understand.
Crypto-currencies are still bullshit.