Project Description

Returns from Investing in Cryptocurrency: Evidence from German Individual Investors

BRL Working Paper No. 6


Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are a high-risk asset class where very high returns are offset by large losses. In a nationally representative online survey of 3,864 German citizens, 354 (9.2%) reported owning cryptocurrencies in March 2019. We analyze a subpopulation of 225 cryptocurrency owners who classify as investors. 56% of them experienced positive returns, while 29% had negative results. The remaining respondents broke even. The average investment was €1,773 in a portfolio of two cryptocurrencies. At the time of the survey, the average portfolio value had risen to €7,094 – an average gain of 300%. While nearly half of the investors (44%) outperformed Bitcoin market returns, not a single one of the early investors (2009-12) did. We find that net income, the degree of cryptocurrency knowledge and the degree of ideological motivation for owning cryptocurrency have positive effects on returns. This first scientific analysis of individual investment in cryptocurrencies provides a basis for future research and for regulatory decision-making.

Keywords: bitcoin; blockchain; individual investors; alternative investments; financial performance

Suggested citation: 

Ante, L., Fiedler, I., von Meduna, M., & Steinmetz, F. (2020). Returns from investing in cryptocurrency: evidence from german individual investors. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3540876.


19 Feb 2020


BRL Working Paper