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NFT blindness

Half of Americans still haven’t heard of NFTs

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Mario Tama/Getty Images
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If you’re reading this, you probably know what an NFT is. But according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, only about half of US adults have even heard of NFTs. A measly 2% have dared to buy one.

NFTs are digital assets that rely on blockchain and crypto technology to turn digitally-native media—such as images, art, or items in video games—into something that can be sold, often to the highest bidder. While the NFT market is down a lot in recent months, it still processes about $50 million in trade volume each week.

Pew’s data show clear demographic splits. Men are more likely than women to have heard of NFTs, and young people more than older people.

The survey has a margin of error of ±2 percentage points.

Additionally, wealthy people were almost twice as likely than low-income individuals to know about NFTs. Asian respondents were more aware of NFTs than white, Black, and Hispanic respondents.

About 16% of US adults report having bought cryptocurrencies, and 46% of those respondents told Pew their investment performed worse than they expected.

Venture capital firms have poured $9.3 billion into crypto-related startups in the first half of 2022 alone, a massive figure despite the enduring bear market for crypto or “crypto winter.”

Meanwhile proponents of blockchain technology, including investors running prominent venture funds, have preached the gospel of web3, a decentralized internet built on blockchain technology. NFTs are a key component of that vision.

But a new technological order online would require mass adoption as well as mass awareness. It appears crypto still has neither. With NFTs being one of the best and most salient use cases of blockchain technology, a web3 future—if it’s even plausible—still feels extremely far away.

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