In October 2017, LendEDU, a marketplace for financing loans, credit cards and other financial products, polled 1,000 Americans asking a series of questions related to Ethereum, Ripple and initial coin offerings (ICOs). They did this to gain insight into the average American’s perception of cryptocurrency. The poll was conducted by online polling company OnePoll, which acted as a third party and was able to provide an age and gender breakdown of respondents. The poll was answered by 1,000 Americans ages 18 and up over two days, from October 27 to 30.
At the time of writing, with a market capitalization of $28.49 billion, Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency, about one-fourth the market capitalization of Bitcoin. Since the start of 2017, the price of ether has grown from $7.98 to $298.
- 31.60 percent of Americans have heard of Ethereum and 18.20 percent of Americans are planning to invest in ether (ETH)
The survey showed that American awareness of Ethereum trends toward a younger (millennial) demographic with 58.49 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 having heard of the cryptocurrency and 32.08 percent of the same demographic planning to invest in Ethereum as an asset for the future.
47 percent less Americans have heard of Ethereum compared to Bitcoin based on a LendEDU survey conducted a month prior on Bitcoin. When asked whether or not they would invest in either cryptocurrency as an asset for the future, Americans 25–34 showed the most interest. The number of these respondents saying they would invest in Bitcoin was only 6.68 percent greater than those saying they would invest in Ethereum.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, only about 1.34 percent of Americans 55 and older plan to invest in Ethereum as an asset for the future. Across all age groups, 37.80 percent of respondents were unsure about investing in Ethereum, which could indicate a lack of knowledge about cryptocurrency as much as general uncertainty about future investing.
- 22.20 percent of Americans have heard of Ripple and 14.80 percent of Americans are planning to invest in Ripple (XRP)
At the time of writing, with a market capitalization of approximately $8 billion, Ripple is the third-largest cryptocurrency (depending on whether or not you count Bitcoin Cash). That’s one-fifteenth the size of Bitcoin’s market capitalization. Since the start of 2017, the price of Ripple has grown from $0.006 to $0.201.
As can be seen by these numbers, LendEDU’s survey respondents showed awareness and investment interest in Ripple at similar levels to those for Ethereum.
In a recent interview, the CEO of Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse, made the point to elaborate on the differentiating value propositions for each of the three largest cryptocurrencies:
“In 2017, people have realized there isn’t going to be one crypto to rule them all. You’re seeing vertical solutions where XRP is focused on payment problems, Ethereum is focused on smart contracts, and increasingly Bitcoin is a store of value. Those aren’t competitive. In fact, I want Bitcoin and Ethereum to be successful.”
It’s no secret that initial coin offerings (ICOs) have risen in popularity this year as much for their innovative investment opportunity as their regulatory controversy and scams. In September 2017, China declared ICOs to be illegal, while the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) exposed two different ICOs claiming to be backed by real estate and diamonds to be frauds.
- 24.90 percent of Americans have heard of ICOs and 15.10 percent of Americans are planning to invest in startups via ICOs
As seen in this chart, almost two-thirds of the American population polled are not sure whether or not ICOs are illegal, while 21 percent believe that investing in them is illegal. As a comparison, in the Bitcoin survey from September, only 10.69 percent of respondents incorrectly believed it was illegal to own bitcoin in the U.S.
Across all questions, LendEDU found a group of respondents who have yet to hear about these specific cryptocurrencies but are open to the idea, or at least unsure, about investing in them. All this to say, in the U.S., cryptocurrency cannot be considered mainstream: Ethereum is not quite as well-known as Bitcoin, most are unsure about whether or not ICOs break the law, and Ripple’s market capitalization is not a strong indicator of its success as a currency.