South Korean millennials appear to be the driving force behind the country's cryptocurrency craze, with one in five people in their twenties having purchased a form of digital currency, including Bitcoin.
Korea Financial Investors Protection Foundation said 14 percent of some 2,530 South Korean adults surveyed in December said they have experience of buying cryptocurrency.
Based on the count of 27.5 million working South Koreans by the end of last year, the 14 percent would amount to roughly 3.8 million people.
Among those in their twenties, 23 percent said they purchased virtual currencies, the highest rate among all age groups.
The rate was 19 percent for respondents in their thirties.
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This compares to the four percent of U.S. millennials, aged between 18 and 34, who said they owned Bitcoin, in a survey conducted last October.
According to the KFIPF survey, fewer South Koreans in their forties and fifties -- eight percent and eleven percent respectively -- snapped up cryptocurrencies.
However, their average investment of roughly $6,000 doubled the $2,741 that people in their twenties invested on average.
Those in their sixties were the biggest spenders, with 21.1 percent investing more than $9,300.
Nearly half the investors in their twenties and thirties spent less than $930. 7.5 percent and 9 percent bought more than $9,300 worth of virtual currencies.
Analyst Kwon Soon-chae of KFIPF said older investors tended to spend more on cryptocurrencies and cautioned against pouring in their savings for post-retirement
70 percent of the survey's respondents said they snapped up cryptocurrency for investment purposes while 34 percent said they were for transactions.
It appeared most of those who hadn't invested in cryptocurrency were wary of hacking attempts and price fluctuations. Only seven percent said they plan on buying virtual currencies in the future.
South Korea is one of the world's leading markets for cryptocurrencies, just behind Japan and the United States in terms of global Bitcoin transactions.
Regulators in recent months have been rolling out stringent measures to prevent sizeable losses and financial crimes, amid concerns of overspeculation and security lapses.
By Jennie Oh
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