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2021 Was the Year of First Time Crypto Buyers; International Survey Finds

Nearly half of all people who currently own crypto in the United States, Latin America and the Asia Pacific bought crypto for the first time in 2021.

Last year was a transformative year for crypto, with nearly half of all current crypto owners in the United States (44 per cent), Latin America (46 per cent) and the Asia Pacific (45 per cent) buying crypto for the first time; according to Gemini’s 2022 ‘State of Crypto‘ report.

The report investigates trends in adoption, barriers to entry and attitudes toward crypto among nearly 30,000 respondents in 20 countries.

The report points to inflation as one of the primary drivers of adoption, highlights how the crypto gender gap may be narrowing in the coming year, and emphasises how education remains the greatest barrier to investing in crypto.

Geographically, Brazil and Indonesia led the way in crypto adoption with more than two in five (41 per cent) respondents in each country reporting owning crypto, compared to just 17 per cent across developed countries and regions including the US (20 per cent), Europe (17 per cent) and Australia (18 per cent).

Venture capital (VC) investment also appeared to power adoption, with high rates of engagement in Singapore (30 per cent) and Israel (28 per cent), which also saw the highest per capita venture capital funding globally in 2021.

2021 was crypto’s breakout year

Forty-one per cent of crypto owners surveyed globally purchased crypto for the first time in 2021. More than half of crypto owners in Brazil, Hong Kong and India got started in 2021.

Globally, 41 per cent of respondents stated that they are ‘crypto curious’, defined as consumers who do not currently own crypto, but are either interested in learning more or say they are likely to acquire cryptocurrency in the next year.

The crypto gender gap may be narrowing

Among the crypto curious who plan to purchase crypto for the first time in the next year, 47 per cent were women. Among crypto owners, women in developing nations led the way with women representing at least half of crypto owners in Israel, Indonesia and Nigeria.

Conversely, in developed countries, only a third of current crypto owners are women, including in the United States, Europe and Australia.

Inflation is a primary driver for crypto adoption

Respondents in countries that have experienced 50 per cent more devaluation of their currency against the USD over the last 10 years were more than five times as likely to say they plan to purchase crypto in the coming year, including South Africa, Mexico, India and Brazil.

In Brazil, where the local currency has been devalued by more than 200 per cent against the USD, 41 per cent of respondents own crypto. In the US, two in five crypto owners see crypto as a hedge against inflation.

Crypto regulation a top concern globally

Among non-owners, 39 per cent in the Asia Pacific, 37 per cent in Latin America and 36 per cent in Europe say there is legal uncertainty around cryptocurrency.

In addition, for 30 per cent of respondents in the Middle East, 24 per cent in the Asia Pacific, and 23 per cent in Latin America, the tax complexities of owning cryptocurrency have kept them from investing in crypto.

Education is the greatest barrier to ownership

Globally, respondents were nearly twice as likely to say that more educational resources on cryptocurrency would help them get started with crypto (40 per cent) compared to recommendations from friends (22 per cent).

Fifty-one per cent of respondents in Latin America and 56 per cent in Africa said that educational resources would make them more comfortable purchasing cryptocurrency. Forty-four per cent in the Asia Pacific and 42 per cent of those in the United States said the same.

Noah Perlman, chief operating officer at Gemini
Noah Perlman

“Crypto adoption reached a true tipping point last year, becoming an established economic driver and a valued investment across the globe,” said Noah Perlman, chief operating officer at Gemini. “We expect to see the influx of crypto investors continue into this year with concerns about inflation in the US and globally driving interest.

“Education also remains a global barrier to adoption, and providing investors additional resources is key to bringing new users into the crypto ecosystem, especially women who make up a majority of the crypto curious audience.”


  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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