Who’s Using Crypto as Payment Method in 2023?

3 min readApr 20, 2023

With industry conversations around Web3 gaining momentum, 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, took a deep dive into cryptocurrency as part of its VoCUL: Connected Customer, Disruptive Technologies 2022 survey.

The overarching takeaway?

It’s still early days for consumer cryptocurrency adoption in the US, with uptake varying widely by demographic. Overall, 20% of respondents indicated that they have either bought, traded or received cryptocurrencies.

The most robust adoption was seen with Gen Z (33%) and Millennials (35%), trailing off into the single digits for Baby Boomers and The Greatest Generation.

Crypto payment adoption
Cryptocurrency activity skews toward younger generations

When exploring the specific activities that cryptocurrency participants have engaged in, the message is clear:

While most have bought cryptocurrencies (64%), a much smaller percentage are selling them (33%), and an even smaller (though not negligible) percentage are using cryptocurrency as a payment method (19%).

Essentially, most consumers that are engaging with cryptocurrency are treating it as an asset, much like they would a security (e.g., a stock).

Based on this finding, we’ve concluded that most consumers that have bought cryptocurrency have never moved their coins outside the exchange where they purchased them (e.g., Coinbase, Binance). This is problematic when considering the widely discussed role for cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange in the Web3 economy.

The reasons for this are many, including usability problems associated with cryptocurrency wallets and limited merchant acceptance.

Consistent with our findings that considerably more users have bought cryptocurrency than used it as a payment method, the common theme driving adoption is investment. More than one-third (36%) who trade cryptocurrency do so as a general investment to increase their wealth, 27% do so to diversify their investment portfolio, and 25% use it as a tool for retirement savings.

As expected, Gen X cryptocurrency users were more likely to trade cryptocurrency to save for retirement (28%) as compared with Gen Z (18%), who are largely using cryptocurrency to expand their wealth (44%).

Cryptocurrency users largely see it as an investment

The upshot

Cryptocurrency has been heralded as the future of money and a replacement for our global financial system. While the projections for the near future are highly encouraging, consumer cryptocurrency adoption today remains modest, and most users are treating it far more like an asset than a method of payment.

Any new technology faces the same beginnings: ease-of-use and education issues rank as the top barriers inhibiting more widespread adoption.

But continuous enhancement on usability of cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges and broadening consumer understanding of how cryptocurrencies work are germane to expanding the market opportunity.

And the opportunity is huge.




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