By Fred Brothers, President and Co-Founder, Cion Digital
In recent years, many dealerships have turned away customers because they were not set up to accept cryptocurrency as payment for vehicles; nor were they able to facilitate crypto-secured loans for customers.
As a dealership principal or general manager, you might not know how many customers have asked if they can pay for, or finance a vehicle with crypto, unless you are asking your F&I managers and salespeople. If you are not currently tracking these requests, it is probably a good idea to start doing so.
The number of customers who are likely to transact with cryptocurrency is largely dependent on your dealership’s location and customer demographics. From our experience, the highest concentrations of cryptocurrency owners fall into the following categories.
Millennials (age 25-40)
Forty-nine percent of Millennials own crypto, according to Piplsay, and one-third of those investors hold three-fourths of their net worth in crypto. Of Millennials that earn at least $75,000 per year, 59% own digital currencies, according to the 2022 Investopedia Financial Literacy Survey.
Millennials tend to have high debt ratios and thin credit profiles compared to older generations, so many do not qualify for the best auto loan terms and interest rates. This makes Millennials ideal candidates for crypto-secured loans.
According to a March 2022 PYMNTS/Bitpay study, 32% of Millennials say they are “very” or “extremely” likely to switch to merchants that accept cryptocurrencies, versus merchants that don’t.
Gen X (age 41-56)
Twenty-eight percent of Gen X are cryptocurrency investors, according to the Investopedia study. And 20% of Gen Xers are including it as part of their retirement strategy according to a recent study by Capitalize.
Long-term investors of cryptocurrencies often do not want to sell their crypto because they would be hit with capital gains or losses. Again, these are ideal candidates for crypto-secured loans.
Gen Z (18-24)
A whopping 88% of Gen Z plan to purchase their first vehicle within the next five years, according to Autotrader.com. In total, there are 67 million Gen Z in the U.S., making up over 20% of the population with $140 billion in purchasing power, according to Business Insider.
A sizeable 23% of Gen Z own cryptocurrency, according to the Investopedia survey. Many Gen Zers may be open to the idea of using their cryptocurrency as a down payment for a vehicle, or to offer it as collateral to secure better interest rates.
Men vs. Women
Approximately 32% of men own cryptocurrency, versus just 15% of women, according to a 2021 Finder survey. This ratio may shift as cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream.
It’s not surprising that luxury brand dealerships are the most likely to receive requests to purchase vehicles with cryptocurrency. Many crypto millionaires want to treat themselves to a luxury brand vehicle.
Other luxury brand buyers tend to be affluent Gen Xers and baby boomers; but Gen Xers are more likely to pay with cryptocurrency.
From Cion’s data, Millennial cryptocurrency owners tend to prefer import brands such as Nissan, Honda and Kia versus the domestic brands.
Dealers who are most likely to accept cryptocurrency tend to be principals of larger groups with a strong digital presence in their primary market areas (PMAs). Their customers tend to be educated, white collar workers and are often located in cities with a strong technology and venture capitalist culture.
Dealerships located in cities with diverse populations and with colleges and universities also receive more requests to purchase or finance with crypto. Increasingly, citizens of other countries—including parents of students from other countries—prefer to pay with crypto instead of sending money via wire transfers.
If your dealership is located in an area with a high concentration of cryptocurrency owners, you have likely experienced customers asking to purchase or finance a vehicle with cryptocurrency. The sooner you can honor these requests, the more competitive advantage you will have within your PMA.
About the Author
Fred Brothers is president and co-founder of Cion Digital, developers of a cryptocurrency payment and marketplace lending platform that connects consumers, merchants and lenders with new payment and loan options.