• El Salvador has officially adopted Bitcoin as legal tender.
  • A recent poll by YouGov has shown that that 27% of US residents supported the idea of making Bitcoin a legal tender in the United States.
  • The survey, conducted among 4,912 US adults, also revealed that the younger generation has a more positive attitude towards Bitcoin.

On September 7, El Salvador officially adopted Bitcoin as legal tender, making the cryptocurrency an accepted means of exchange for goods and services. While El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, its adoption of Bitcoin has made an impression on some larger countries in the region.

Aside from Central America, the news could have an effect on the US, where some advocates are considering the idea of Bitcoin becoming a legal tender.

A recent poll conducted by YouGov, an international online research and data analytics firm, reveals that 27% of US residents supported making Bitcoin a legal tender (along with the US dollar) in the United States. Out of the 27%, 11% strongly support the idea, while the remaining 16% “somewhat” support it. Back in 2017, less than 20% of Americans said they planned to purchase Bitcoin in the next five years – so there has been a 7% increase in Bitcoin’s favor.

The findings reveal that 39% of those surveyed oppose the idea of making Bitcoin legal tender. Of those, 28% said they strongly oppose, while 11% said they “somewhat” oppose the idea. The remaining 34% surveyed said they “don’t know.”

The YouGov survey, which was conducted among 4,912 US adults, also revealed that the younger generation holds a more friendly stance towards Bitcoin. As per the survey, 80% of those who supported the idea were aged between 18 to 44.

On the other hand, the majority of those who opposed the idea of making Bitcoin legal tender were older than 35 years old. Further yet, 43% of those older than 55 strongly opposed the idea.

This coincides with the global cryptocurrency ownership demographics. A report by Triple-A, a crypto payment gateway for e-commerce businesses, reveals that 58% of cryptocurrency owners are under the age of 45. The report states:

“Majority of the US cryptocurrency owners are in the 18-44 age group (58%). 5% of them are 55 and above. This concludes that cryptocurrencies are largely owned by young, tech-savvy and wealthy Americans.”

Crypto is known for its extreme price volatility. This volatility is a double-edged sword, meaning it offers the potential for significant upward and downward movements over a short period of time. However, considering that younger people have fewer overheads — e.g. children, rent, bills, … — they likely have more willingness to take the risk and invest in emerging fields.

Moreover, a report by CNBC reveals that millennials are now earning more money than ever before. As per the report, millennial households now have a median income of $69,000. The report said:

“That is a higher figure than for nearly every other year on record, apart from around 2000, when households headed by people ages 22 to 37 earned about the same amount — $67,600 in inflation-adjusted dollars.”

a chart showing how bitcoin is transferred in south America
Small transfers of Bitcoin are widespread in South America.
Image: Reuters

Older people “don’t understand Bitcoin”

It is pretty much evident that a lot of older people, specifically those older than 55, are very suspicious of cryptocurrencies. Part of the reason could be that don’t understand it. In an interview with CNBC, Lee Cooperman, 78, an American billionaire investor and hedge fund manager, mentioned this idea, saying:

“If you don’t understand bitcoin, it means you’re old. I’m 78. I’m old. I don’t understand it. I’d be very careful with btc. It does not make a great deal of sense, and if you are nervous about the world gold to me would a better place to store value.”

What is the World Economic Forum doing about blockchain?

Blockchain is an early-stage technology that enables the decentralized and secure storage and transfer of information and value. Though the most well-known use case is cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, which enable the electronic transfer of funds without banking networks, blockchain can be applied to a wider range of purposes. It has potential to be a powerful tool for tracking goods, data, documentation and transactions. The applications are seemingly limitless; it could cut out intermediaries, potentially reduce corruption, increase trust and empower users. In this way, blockchain could be relevant to numerous industries.

That said, blockchain also entails significant trade-offs with respect to efficiency and scalability, and numerous risks that are increasingly coming to the attention of policy-makers. These include the use of cryptocurrency in ransomware attacks, fraud and illicit activity, and the energy consumption and environmental footprint of some blockchain networks. Consumer protection is also an important and often overlooked issue, with cryptocurrency, so-called “stablecoins” and decentralized applications operating on blockchain technology posing risks to end-users of lost funds and also risks to broader financial stability depending on adoption levels.

Read more about the work we have launched on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies – to ensure the technology is deployed responsibly and for the benefit of all. We’re working on accelerating the most impactful blockchain use cases, ranging from making supply chains more inclusive to making governments more transparent, as well as supporting central banks in exploring digital currencies.

Another prominent figure in the world of investing, Warren Buffett, 91, also seems to not understand Bitcoin and digital assets. In an interview with CNBC, Buffett said:

“I get in enough trouble with things I think I know something about. Why in the world should I take a long or short position in something [Bitcoin] I don’t know anything about?”