Worldwide, the economy is on the shakiest ground. Some say the recession is coming, some say it is already here, and some say that it isn’t a concern at all. Regardless of all that contradictory noise, people continue to have faith in cryptocurrency. At its inception, cryptocurrency was meant to be a financial asset immune to the waves of the economic cycle and a buffer from the type of government interference that can make the global economy tenuous, though that has been changing over time. 

But while the last few months haven’t been great in proving crypto is any different from the rest of the financial world, individuals and corporations are still searching for ways to guarantee a return from the volatile asset, some with more empty buzzword-driven venture capital than others. 

But let’s start with basic information. While you may hear a lot about cryptocurrencies in the news, and there is a significant amount of wealth tied up in it, the Gen Pop at large still isn’t using crypto that much, or that frequently. 

Only 7% of the Gen Pop manages or engages with crypto on at least a weekly basis. Just over three-quarters (78%) never touch the stuff. CivicScience has touched on who uses crypto quite a bit in the past (here, here, and here), but suffice to say that it’s possible crypto has reached the peak of its permeation into the mainstream financial world. 

As you can see, YoY growth in investing or planning to invest in cryptocurrency has mostly flatlined since its explosive rise across 2020. 

Further, following the massive slide in value over the summer, the rate of the Gen Pop that thinks the asset has tapped out has risen from 45% in July to 49% in August. 

And even when we break down that sentiment across how closely people follow the stock market, we see similar numbers across the board.

So maybe crypto has plateaued, at least for now, among both the investor class and regular folks. This may be a result of the last several months of cratering value, or some other combination of factors. Though it would not necessarily be wise, at this time, to immediately count crypto out. Its inherent extreme volatility always gives it the potential to bounce back at any time.

Regardless, as it is with everything that is hip and trendy that reached a peak, momentary or not, the largest international corporations in the world have become interested in figuring out how best to monetize it in their business models. 

Credit card companies are looking to create their own cryptos, or convert rewards points into crypto transactions (which, given the natural volatility of crypto, those rewards could be worthless immediately after conversion; it would be similar to being able to redeem credit rewards for a gift card to a store that may permanently close at any given time with no warning). And appropriately, it turns out most people don’t see this as a real benefit, or anything anyone asked for. 

The exception to this trend lies among frequent crypto users. Those who engage at least weekly in cryptocurrency are ecstatic about the idea of redeeming credit rewards for more crypto. 

Perhaps part of the problem, for banks in attracting a broader swath of the Gen Pop to this reward program, is that many people have trust issues with crypto. 

And that concern impacts how much the Gen Pop may want their credit card companies (also not the most trusted institutions) to get involved with crypto. 

Those who are very or extremely interested in redeeming rewards for crypto also tend to have higher trust in financial institutions, while those who aren’t, don’t. 

But here is where things get interesting. CivicScience data show that similar rates across the Gen Pop are interested in spending their own cryptocurrencies on goods and services. 

This is, again, a concept more popular among those who use crypto more regularly.

This 19% of the Gen Pop that is at least somewhat interested in using crypto to pay for goods and services is reflective of the approximate 20% that have invested in crypto, according to CivicScience’s long-running tracking data. This implies that investors aren’t just diving into crypto as a speculative or growth investment, but with an actual desire to spend it as currency. 

While still clearly more popular among younger people, Millennials demonstrate higher interest in spending crypto (as opposed to receiving it), as do Gen Xers above them. Income brackets, however, all show lower distributed levels of interest in spending crypto, which may be related to the stress of actually spending an asset, rather than storing it as a future investment. 

Perhaps the lesson here is, despite potentially reaching the peak of its market saturation, cryptocurrency has shifted into a new phase where it is not seen as an investment asset, but as it was originally intended to be – a currency to be traded for goods and services, beyond the economic cycle of traditional government-backed currencies that are subject to the whims of standard economics. 

Businesses should therefore take note when deciding to accept cryptocurrency as payment for goods or services: people, at least young people, want to use crypto. CivicScience will keep an eye on this trend as businesses continue to consider opening their registers to digital currencies.