Abstract,Golden Bitcoin money on computer.
© Narong Rotjanaporn / 123RF Stock Photo

Bitcoin ownership by Canadian investors increased significantly during the pandemic, according to new research from the Bank of Canada.

In a staff working paper, central bank researchers reported that the share of Canadians who owned Bitcoin more than doubled from about 5%, where it hovered between 2018 and 2020, to over 13% in 2021.

The sharp jump in Bitcoin ownership came amid an increase in household savings and incomes during the pandemic, coupled with growing availability of mobile trading apps, noted the paper, which is based on data from the Bank of Canada’s Bitcoin Omnibus Surveys.

Additionally, the paper reported that ownership skewed heavily male — 19% of men held Bitcoin versus just 7% of women — and that buyers also tended to be younger (aged 18 to 34 years), with a university degree or high income.

Among those earning at least $70,000 in 2021, ownership jumped from just over 5% to 17% in 2021, the paper said.

These newer buyers “largely see Bitcoin as an investment” rather than a payment mechanism or an ideological alternative to fiat currency, the paper reported.

Specifically, the researchers found that, in 2021, 60% of Bitcoin owners cited investment as the most common reason for owning Bitcoin, up from 39% in 2019.

The researchers also found that Dogecoin was the most widely known alternative to Bitcoin among respondents, with 28% saying they were aware of Dogecoin, compared with 26% who were aware of Ether and 14% who were aware of Litecoin.

“It is interesting to note the similar awareness levels of Dogecoin and Ethereum,” the paper said. “Dogecoin was initially created as a joke, basing its name on a popular Internet meme. On the other hand, Ethereum was created with the idea of extending the use case of blockchain to include decentralized programmable applications.”

However, Ether was the most popular altcoin to own, held by 7% of respondents, versus 4% for Dogecoin, the paper said.