According to a recent European Central Bank survey, one in ten households in the eurozone are believed to own cryptoassets such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. Still, a third of crypto investors say they hold less than €1,000 in these digital assets.
As regulation surrounding cryptocurrencies is discussed in the European Parliament, the European Central Bank has unveiled new figures on cryptocurrency ownership in the eurozone. The ECB's research focused on some 10,000 consumers in six countries -- France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium. It found that, on average, one in ten households in the eurozone now owns cryptocurrencies. The Netherlands has the largest proportion of households owning cryptoassets, at 14%, ahead of Spain (12%), Italy (12%) and Belgium (10%). Germany and France are below average, with, respectively, 9% and 6% of households holding crypto.
For the crypto industry, this is relatively positive news, as it reflects the growing popularity of these digital assets. However, the amounts owned by consumers are still quite low. More than a third (37%) of those who say they own cryptocurrencies hold less than €1,000, while 29% own between €1,000 and €5,000, and 13% own between €5,000 and €10,000 in digital assets. Meanwhile, 6% of crypto owners in these eurozone countries have more than €30,000 in cryptocurrency.
Towards European regulations in 2024?
The households most likely to own crypto are those with the highest incomes. Similarly, it is young adult males with higher levels of education who are most likely to own these digital assets. In just a few short years, cryptocurrencies have grown in popularity, thanks in part to exchange platforms that make it easy to buy and sell these assets. Yet concerns are being raised about the lack of consumer protection in this field -- and rightly so. Indeed, the cryptocurrency market is risky, and a simple mistake in the use of a crypto wallet can jeopardize an investment.
"Crypto-assets are not suitable for most retail investors ... who could lose a large amount (or even all) of the money they have invested," the ECB report explains. "Consumer protection risks include (i) misleading information, (ii) the absence of rights and protections such as complaints procedures or recourse mechanisms, (iii) product complexity with leverage sometimes embedded, (iv) fraud and malicious activities (money laundering, cyber crime, hacking and ransomware), and (v) market manipulation (lack of price transparency and low liquidity)."
For these reasons, the European Union hopes to quickly regulate this new market with its Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation framework. However, the proposal has still not been approved by EU legislators, and the regulation cannot be implemented until at least 2024. In fact, the regulation will only enter into effect 18 months after it is adopted.