Despite recent turbulence, cryptocurrency has enjoyed a significant rise in consumer interest in the past few years. According to a poll by NBC, one in five Americans today has invested in, traded, or used cryptocurrency.
Part of the currency’s initial popularity was due to cryptocurrency exchanges offering financial products that competed with—and for a while, outperformed—traditional banking products. As recently as last fall, consumers could stash certain digital assets in a savings account and earn upwards of 10% interest, or even use cryptocurrency to secure a loan without a credit check. But lawmakers and regulators are concerned about the lack of stability and consumer protections that the traditional financial services industry provides.
The growth prompted President Biden to sign an executive order directing relevant government agencies to study its risks and benefits. The order seems well-timed given the recent crash of some platforms which helped trigger a flight from the cryptocurrency market, driving its value from $2.9 trillion last fall to less than $900 billion today.