Customers want to pay with their crypto

By the numbers: US crypto owners are increasingly using their digital holdings to make purchases online and in-store, according to an April PYMNTS survey.

  • Almost one-third (30%) of crypto owners said they had bought something online with their digital assets in the last month.
  • More than one-fifth (21%) of holders made an in-store purchase using crypto.
  • One-quarter of crypto owners said they preferred merchants that accept crypto.
  • Nearly one-third of consumers who hold or have held crypto in the last year said they would switch merchants if it meant they could pay with the digital assets.

What this means: The PYMNTS data may illustrate a shift in consumers’ view of crypto as a payment method rather than solely as an investment.

Industry heavyweights have recognized crypto’s payments potential. Visa has more than 30 crypto card programs, and Mastercard has more than 20. Investors are also taking note, with crypto payments specialist Circle doubling its valuation to $9 billion in February after renegotiating a SPAC deal.

What’s holding back crypto adoption?

  • Regulation. After years of scant regulations, the crypto industry looks set to get more red tape: President Biden signed an executive order last month signaling broader future oversight of crypto. Clear regulation should help make consumers more comfortable using the broad array of crypto products.
  • Image problems. High-profile controversies, its links to the dark web, and criticism from prominent figures have left crypto with a murky reputation that is holding back its adoption in the payments space.
  • Price volatility. Wildly fluctuating crypto prices may put off some consumers and merchants from using them as a payment method. Stablecoins and CBDCs could help address those concerns.

The big takeaway: Payments firms that choose to ignore crypto’s potential risk missing out on a big opportunity.

  • We project global crypto transaction volume will rise 70% this year to hit $10.4 billion as more retailers cater to growing interest from shoppers.
  • It’s getting easier for customers to buy and use crypto at checkout, and mainstream adoption shows little sign of flagging anytime soon: In the US, 33.7 million will hold crypto this year—or 12.8% of the population, per Insider intelligence forecasts. Firms that embrace crypto as a viable payment method can attract new customers before the space fully matures.