The bitcoin blockchain turned 10 this year (the first “block” was mined on Jan. 3, 2009). The bitcoin white paper turned 11 (published by “Satoshi Nakamoto” on Oct. 31, 2008). And the price of bitcoin is up 84% this year.
But the popular conception is that the cryptocurrency industry is overwhelmingly male. “Why are so few women buying into bitcoin?” asked a World Economic Forum blog post last year.
Grayscale Investments thinks the answer is simple lack of information.
The firm behind the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) and other funds pegged to crypto prices commissioned a study of investor perceptions of bitcoin. Grayscale found that just over a third of U.S. investors are interested in bitcoin (more than 20 million people), and of that interested group, 43% are women.
Given a series of bitcoin’s investment qualities to choose from, women were more likely than men to say that they like the ability to invest in very small amounts (a common misconception is that you must buy one whole bitcoin, currently worth just north of $7,000—that is not the case), the ability to sell at any time (crypto markets never “close” like the U.S. equities markets, you can trade at any hour), and they believe bitcoin is a high-risk, high-reward bet that has the potential for very high returns.
The Grayscale study was conducted by Q8 Research, which surveyed 1,100 U.S. investors (defined as having at least $50,000 in household income and $10,000 in household investable assets), ages 25-64, from March 28 through April 3.
To be sure, being “interested in” investing in bitcoin may not amount to much. Interest does not always lead to action. Many people have passing interest in buying many types of things, but that doesn’t mean they will ever buy them.
Nonetheless, Grayscale sees promise in the survey results.
More women than men said that they lack familiarity with bitcoin (76% female vs. 52% male). But of the women who said they are interested in bitcoin, 93% said they would be willing to invest in it if they knew more about it.
“From our perspective, that means that there’s a real opportunity for folks like us and for the digital currency community as a whole,” says Grayscale managing director Michael Sonnenshein. “If we can educate more people around an asset class that’s new and largely unknown to folks, it can draw a lot more capital into the space.”
Meltem Demirors, chief strategy officer at CoinShares, concluded the same in an impactful Medium post in 2016: “Education is the primary tool we have to get more women into bitcoin... We’re going to need a lot of talented people — but we’re also going to need to cultivate that talent by encouraging and supporting intellectual curiosity at all levels of education.” Demirors also listed mentorship programs, scholarships, and internships as catalysts to attract women to the industry.
Grayscale is also touting as a win a recent Charles Schwab report on the top 10 stocks held by Schwab’s millennial customers: No. 5 is the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, after Amazon, Apple, Tesla, and Facebook. Grayscale is also the firm behind a “Drop Gold” TV ad campaign that launched earlier this year to encourage buying bitcoin instead of gold.
Forty-five million U.S. households will hand down $68 trillion of wealth to millennials over the next 25 years, according to a widely cited report last year from Cerulli Associates. “That’s a lot of capital,” says Sonnenshein. “We have to be paying attention to how that capital is going to get redeployed as it gets passed down. We’re certainly not saying all that capital will flow into bitcoin, but we’d certainly say [bitcoin is] going to resonate with a millennial audience.”
Daniel Roberts covers bitcoin and blockchain at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.