Although Bitcoin, Ethereum and Co. were hit hard by price declines recently, their popularity has done little to harm them. A total of 29 percent of German citizens see the digital currency as an interesting investment. The representative survey in the context of the Postbank Digital Study 2018 took place between the end of February and the end of March, ie immediately after the sometimes very sharp price falls in the digital currencies. In particular, the independence of regulatory financial systems and the prospect of high returns exert a great fascination on the Germans. The interest of the younger and digitally affine Germans is especially pronounced. In the age group between 18 and 34, nearly one in two (46 percent) is interested in cryptocurrencies as an investment – despite often negative reports.
Media presence increases interest in Bitcoin and Co
Last year, cryptocurrency rates jumped from one record high to the next, but since the end of 2017, the price of Bitcoin, the most widely used cryptocurrency, has fallen more than 65 percent. The media reported extensively on the price fluctuations and many industry representatives speak with warnings; such as the Deutsche Bundesbank or the German Financial Supervisory Authority Bafin. The voices of the experts, who had predicted a revolution in the investment business by cryptocurrencies, also became much quieter.
“It is noteworthy that Germans are still interested in cryptocurrencies as a financial investment despite high losses and obvious risks,” says Dr. Thomas Mangel, Postbank Chief Digital Officer. “There is certainly a real risk that people will lose money just because they follow a hype.” Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency in 2009, and now there are more than 1,500. Decentralized data management and cryptographically secured protocols create digital payment transactions without central authorities such as banks.
Women are fascinated by system independence, men by return opportunities
It is especially the independence of established financial systems that fascinates Germans about cryptocurrencies. This aspect is significantly more important for women (60 percent) than for men (51 percent). The prospect of supposedly high returns, on the other hand, especially irritates men (56 percent compared to 36 percent of women). For every third fan of cryptocurrencies, anonymity is also important. Unlike, for example, corporate shares, the individual investor is not of interest. With a physical possession of cryptocurrencies no bank employee or broker has insight into the depot. For every fifth interested person, there are also emotional reasons such as thrills and the “gold digger feeling” of investing in a relatively new form of digital investment.
Fascination with young people especially big
The step to investment is made especially by young people. At six percent, digital natives have twice as many cryptocurrencies as the average population. In the next twelve months, another 14 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds still want to grow cryptocurrencies. Across all age groups, this is only eight percent. “Despite all the fascination, young investors should not lose sight of offers from the established banking system. Anyone who already makes an investment in securities as an investment should certainly not invest in cryptocurrencies because of the high risks involved. Because this type of investment is highly speculative, “continues Thomas Mangel.
Knowledge about opportunities and risks is probably overestimated
The high price fluctuations in cryptocurrencies as well as plans by banking syndicates or even countries to establish their own cryptocurrencies have led to widespread media coverage. The results of the study indicate that this media presence leads many Germans to conclude that they are familiar with cryptocurrencies – because they have already read or heard so much about them. 20 percent of Germans certify themselves a good or very good knowledge of cryptocurrencies. The digital natives feel even safer on the ground: 29 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds consider themselves “crypto connoisseurs”.
“Due to the media hypes, many people overestimate their knowledge of the opportunities and risks of cryptocurrencies as an investment,” warns Thomas Mangel. For example, many would not know that profits from cryptocurrencies need to be fully taxed if they are not kept for at least a year. Above all, the risk of total loss, which does not exist for other investments in this form, is not given enough consideration. Anyone who would like to invest in cryptocurrencies, however, is advised to choose only a sum that they can do without.
Background information on the Postbank Digital Study 2018 – The Digital German and the Money
In the period from February to March of this year, 3,100 Germans were interviewed for the Postbank Digital Study 2018 – The Digital German and the Money. For the fourth time in a row, Postbank’s study examines the developments that are emerging in the different areas of German life in relation to digitization in general and financial topics in particular. In order to depict a population-representative structure, the sample was weighted by state (proportionalization), age and gender. The reference file was based on the Census 2011 of the Federal Statistical Office. The results are rounded to whole numbers. Deviations in the totals can be explained by rounding differences.