Survey: Millennials Trust Nothing, Except Maybe Crypto

Millennials don’t trust anything. They don’t trust banks. They raise their eyebrows at ads, Wall Street, Congress, and the press. They probably don’t trust you.

But, according to a new survey from investment platform eToro, millennials do trust cryptocurrency as an asset—at least, more than they do the stock market. The survey, commissioned by independent research firm Provoke Insights, asked 1,000 online investors in the U.S., ages 20 through 65, about stock exchanges, cryptocurrency exchanges, and 401(k)s. Forty-three percent of millennial respondents said they trusted cryptocurrency exchanges more than U.S. stock exchanges. Gen X, meanwhile, favored the establishment—77 percent of them would put their faith in stock exchanges over crypto trading hubs.

Millennials also have more faith in cryptocurrency in general. About 66 percent of those surveyed claimed to trust crypto over the stock market. When eToro narrowed its sample size down to the millennial respondents who don’t currently trade crypto, trust remained fairly strong. About one-third said they still “would” trust cryptocurrency over the stock market.

However, millennials aren’t completely ready to leave the investing establishment behind. A vast majority of the millennial crypto traders surveyed, 93 percent, said they would put more money in crypto if “traditional” financial institutions offered it, like Fidelity or Charles Schwab (Fidelity, for the record, is already pretty deep in the crypto investing game).

To explain the survey’s results, managing director of eToro U.S., Guy Hirsh, pointed to the effects “the worst recession since the Great Depression” had on millennials in particular. “Young investors’ experience with the stock market has seen a great deal of loss of trust,” he said in a statement. He also noted blockchain’s “immutability” as a way to foster real-time audits. Essentially, blockchains are difficult to manipulate, more difficult to manipulate than banks, Wall Street, Congress, and the press—perfect for those skeptical 23-to-38-year-olds.

However, I am a millennial, so I am skeptical of this survey. First, it only includes 1,000 participants who already are prone to doing things digitally because they invest online. If that doesn’t skew respondents to be more crypto-friendly (or at least crypto-aware), then the fact that the research “oversampled” cryptocurrency traders by 285 respondents does. Plus, eToro gave out this survey in September 2018, which was still essentially crypto autumn.

Trust aside, it makes sense that younger people are more open to investing in cryptocurrency. It’s for the same reason why I’m more likely to use Venmo than my dad, or listen to music on Spotify rather than a CD player—familiarity, the natural progression of technological developments. The blockchain hype coincided with millennials coming of adulthood. It’s advertised on the L train, it shares qualities with digital currencies used in newer video games, and it appears on popular millennial-targeting TV shows.

Past surveys show similar, if not extremely significant, millennial penchants for crypto-optimism. But before you blindly accept their results, take a moment to confer with your inner millennial, or find a real live millennial and ask them what they think. Their eye roll will tell you all you need to know.