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One in 5 adults has invested in, traded or used cryptocurrency, NBC News poll shows

Forty percent of Black Americans said they have traded or used crypto, while 42 percent of all people between 18 and 34 years old said the same.
Image: Cryptocurrencies Gain Popularity In Hong Kong
An advertisement for a Bitcoin cryptocurrency token in Hong Kong.Anthony Kwan / Getty Images file

One in 5 Americans has invested in, traded or used cryptocurrency, a new NBC News poll found, another sign that digital assets continue to get more popular even as lawmakers warn of market risks and work to regulate the industry.

Half of men between the ages of 18 and 49 said they have dabbled in crypto, the highest share of all demographic groups.

Forty percent of Black Americans said they have traded or used crypto, while 42 percent all people between 18 and 34 said the same.

The fact that 21 percent of the 1,000 Americans polled said they have at least once used or invested in crypto shows how much the relatively young industry has taken off in recent years. Digital assets have spread as Capitol Hill works to introduce a new rules for the market.

Crypto advocates say assets like bitcoin, ether and stablecoins offer better transaction speeds, lower costs, privacy, security and an opportunity to provide underbanked communities with financial services.

But without a major legislative effort, the crypto market still looks like the “Wild West,” according to Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler. That may be why only 19 percent of those polled by NBC News said they view crypto positively and 25 percent indicated they view it in a negative light.

The majority — some 56 percent — said they feel neutral or that they aren’t sure about the crypto industry.

Still, the market for crypto has grown so large that President Joe Biden earlier this month signed an executive order directing relevant government agencies to study its risks and benefits.

While the administration voiced concerns about potential fraud and the financing of illegal activities, it also made clear that the U.S. has a geopolitical interest in developing the infrastructure and oversight to monitor crypto.

While Republicans and Democrats both acknowledge the potential benefits of a crypto market now worth trillions, many warn that a lack of federal oversight leaves consumers open to scams and dangerous price volatility.

Even bitcoin, one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, isn’t immune from wild price fluctuations: It has fallen 20 percent over the past year.