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'We're the First Group Who Loses Out': Black Americans Hit Hard By Crypto Collapse

As digital currencies continue to fall, a new report found Black investors to be disproportionately vulnerable.

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Digital currencies have dropped drastically, with bitcoin alone losing more than 50% of its value this year.

With consistent reports of plunging value, the question looms: Who's really getting hit?

A study by Ariel Investments found that, on average, Black Americans own significantly more cryptocurrency than their white counterparts. About one quarter (25%) of Black Americans own crypto, and when examining investors under the age of 40, that number jumps to 38%. According to the data, 15% of white investors own crypto, and 29% are under 40. Black investors were more than twice as likely (11%) to name crypto as their first investment compared to white investors (4%).

Terri Bradford, a research specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, told NPR's Planet Money that the disparity is due in part to a longstanding mistrust of financial systems.

"It does generationally have an impact. And this distrust is there. Some folks feel the financial system just is not working," Bradford said on the podcast.

Host Adrian Ma highlighted how crypto — a new currency outside of all controlled systems — and its draw of gaining financial independence with a low barrier to entry, and further enhanced by celeb endorsements.

Related: Is Crypto and NFTs a Passing Fad?

"Retail investors, particularly in Black and brown communities, they've been sold the sizzle, but there ain't no stake there. And we're the first group who loses out," Samson Williams, a former crypto investor, said on Planet Money.

Williams told the host that he was initially excited about crypto because of the idea that digital currency could be a driver for racial equity. Now, he's started to lose faith.

"The day someone says, here's how bitcoin or crypto solved unemployment and a living wage, then I will take them seriously," Williams said on the podcast.

According to NPR, a recent estimate of the per-capita wealth of white and Black Americans found the wealth gap to be 6-to-1.

Related: Top 4 Reasons the Cryptocurrency Market Is Crashing

Jefferson Noel, 27, told the Financial Times that after a $5 bitcoin buy was worth $70 in 2019, he invested thousands more into other digital currencies. But the recent plunge has wiped out over 20% of his investment.

"As far as I can tell, the black community sees crypto as a way to even the playing field and get in the game before the gatekeepers prevent others from participating," Noel told the publication.

Meanwhile, while he's researching investing alternatives, he's still buying crypto, he told FT.

Related: Bitcoin's Crypto Crash Prompted This Firm to Pause Withdrawals. Here's Why

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