Bitcoin is more popular than the royal wedding, and the world’s biggest reality television star?
Those are essentially the findings of a new study by cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. According to the data, not only have more than half of Americans heard of bitcoin (BTC-USD), but more of them have searched for it this year on Google than Kim Kardashian this year.
In fact, three times more.
“We look at Google searches of Kim Khadashian, of election results, of the royal wedding, and Bitcoin topped all of those,” said Nina Willdorf, Coinbase’s director of content & editorial on “YFi PM.”
“We found that awareness is quite high: 60% of Americans say they’ve heard of bitcoin,” she said. “When you compare that to other broad phenomenon, it’s great.”
Bitcoin has been on a seesaw, rallying to 2019 highs near $13,000 but retracing some of those gains in the last few sessions. Still the cryptocurrency has more than tripled since the start of the year.
That could be because there is a high correlation between Google searches for bitcoin and its price action, according to a note by research firm SEMrush.
‘Broad swaths of the U.S.’
It’s not surprising that California, a wealthy coastal state, has the highest percentage of the population owning cryptocurrency. However, the Coinbase study also revealed a few surprises.
“We saw broad swaths of the United States showing up. You see states like Colorado, Utah, Alaska in that top 10 list. That was a very interesting indicator for us,” said Willdorf.
Coinbase also looked at states with the largest average value of cryptocurrency owned per person. Surprisingly, Delaware residents hold the highest average value of cryptocurrency per person, followed by California and Nevada.
Wyoming (No. 6) and New Hampshire (No. 10) also made the list.
So why are so many retail investors betting on bitcoin?
“We spoke to one person, he’s saying that he’s looking to it as a way to drive his own economic freedom. He says this is something for ‘my generation’ this is something that’s giving us a new form of access,” said Willdorf.
For others, having access to buy cryptocurrency without an “accredited investor” designation is also a motivator. Also, some like its association with technology, and the shape of things to come.
“A young woman in New York tells us that this is really interesting and she thinks it’s going to be the wave of the future,” said Willdorf.
Crypto is here to stay
Even big banks are getting in on the digital currency hype. Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO David Solomon told France’s Les echos newspaper that he’s looking into ways to transform currencies or assets into tradeable digital contracts with blockchain.
Also, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) said earlier this year it developed its own stable coin called JPM Coin.
Lawmakers also want in on cryptocurrency, with more than 70% of U.S. states having enacted regulations governing cryptocurrency or blockchain technology, according to Coinbase.
Cryptocurrencies may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but Willdorf says the numbers reveal it still has a lot of room to grow.
“When you see 60% of Americans telling us in this survey that they’ve heard of Bitcoin, that number shows it’s both big and it also shows room to grow. When you see 15% across the country are saying they are interested in purchasing cryptocurrency,” she said.
Grete Suarez is producer at Yahoo Finance for YFi PM and The Ticker. Follow her on Twitter: @GreteSuarez