Consumer interest in cryptocurrency is on the upswing. The percentage of consumers who held crypto at some point during the year rose to 23% in 2021 from 16% in 2020. Despite gaining traction in recent years, the crypto acceptance rate at many retailers is still quite low. In addition, the sharp decline in the investment value of bitcoin and other key cryptocurrencies raises questions about when the financial markets will be ready to resume investing in crypto.
As it currently stands, 46% of merchants say they have integrated crypto into their mix of accepted payment methods, although most purchases that use cryptocurrency are made with digital wallets. Moreover, big retailers are ready to get paid in crypto. Eighty-five percent of businesses with more than $1 billion in annual online sales say they accept payments from providers that support crypto-based transactions, such as PayPal and Venmo.
These are just some of the key findings in “Paying With Cryptocurrency: What Consumers And Merchants Expect From Digital Currencies,” a PYMNTS and BitPay collaboration. We surveyed 2,334 consumers and investors between Feb. 22 to March 2 to evaluate what makes cryptocurrencies appealing to consumers and merchants. We also surveyed 202 merchants with annual online sales of at least $250 million from March 3 to March 15 about their experiences accepting cryptocurrency as a payment method.
Some additional key findings include:
• Twenty-three percent of consumers now hold or have held cryptocurrency during the past 12 months. The share of consumers holding cryptocurrency has been growing, and 16% of consumers currently own some cryptocurrency compared to 12% a year ago.
• Forty-six percent of merchants say they have integrated crypto into their mix of accepted payments, although just 23% report accepting payments via crypto-native wallets. Most cryptocurrency purchases are made with digital wallets like PayPal and Venmo that allow other payment methods and are non-native crypto payments.
• Ninety-five percent of the businesses that currently accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment say they are planning to innovate or further innovate their crypto acceptance capabilities. Merchants want to expand the capabilities of their payments platforms to be integrated with cryptocurrency as a payment method.
The number of consumers who hold cryptocurrency and the number of merchants that accept it as a payment method has steadily grown in the little more than a decade since it was introduced. Despite the financial market sell-off that has plagued cryptocurrencies through the first half of the year, experience with cryptocurrency as a payment method has increased. Many merchants have learned to take advantage of its popularity and leverage its unique strengths, such as lower transaction fees and the ability to attract new customers and facilitate cross-border payments. Continued experience and education around cryptocurrency usage and acceptance as an attractive payment method can pave the way for its next stage of growth.
To learn more about consumer and merchant interest in the use of cryptocurrency as a payment method, download the report.