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Watch Out Bears, Crypto’s Only Getting Started: Coinbase CTO


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Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan ignited a Twitter firestorm yesterday when he tweeted that while 63% of the world’s adults own smartphones, only 8% of those in the U.S. and less than 1% worldwide own cryptocurrency, indicating there is a potential user base that is 60 times larger than the existing user base.

Some agreed that these numbers indicate the crypto market is more inevitable than many think. One tweeter went as far as to say that it makes sense for people to hold onto their cryptoassets for the long term.

Many, however, questioned the accuracy of the 8% cryptocurrency ownership, as well as Srinivasan’s opinion about smartphone ownership’s relationship to cryptocurrency adoption.

Survey Reveals American Views On Crypto

The original tweet linked to a story about a Finder survey of 2,001 Americans that found just less than 8% of Americans have purchased a cryptocurrency.

The Finder survey in itself offered some interesting insight into Americans’ attitudes about cryptocurrency. Among those who have not purchased it, just 7.76% plan to in the future. Reasons given for not purchasing it include having no interest, thinking it’s too risky, finding it too hard to understand and thinking it’s a scam. In addition, some said they are waiting for a bubble to burst, others think crypto is too hard to use, and some believe there are too many fees to pay.

8% Crypto Ownership Questioned

Coinbase app
Balaji Srinivasan, formerly of Earn.com, now serves as CTO of cryptocurrency giant Coinbase.

Many tweeters found the 8% cryptocurrency ownership among Americans hard to believe, and some suspected the sampling was flawed.

Several also questioned the inference that the number of smartphone users indicates the potential size of the crypto market. One compared this to inferring that 60% of Americans will buy lotto tickets since such tickets can be bought with smartphones. The smartphone ownership statistic, incidentally, was based on a study from a company called Zenith that said smartphone ownership rose 10% in 2017 year and will rise 7% in 2018.

One tweeter argued that smartphones provide a necessity, whereas cryptocurrency does not.

One who accepted Srinivan’s upbeat outlook said it was reason to hold crypto long-term, to which others noted the question then becomes what cryptocurrency to hold, how much to hold, and when to rebalance.

Also read: Global blockchain adoption still low, Gartner survey finds

Srinivasan Isn’t Shy

Srinivasan is no stranger to controversy.

In 2016, as the co-founder of 21 Inc. (later rebranded as Earn.com, which was acquired by Coinbase this year), which at the time had raised more money for cryptocurrency than any other company, Srinivasan raised a firestorm on Twitter when he tweeted that private blockchain consortiums could be the limiting blockchain adoption because one of their purposes was to bring together actors who are naturally distrustful.

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