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Crypto investing habits of Canadian women: Not risk averse, but thinking long term

TORONTO — After the digital asset market plummeted in May, Toronto business owner and crypto investor Francine Gerstein said she felt a little uneasy while considering her next moves.
A sign advertises a Bitcoin automated teller machine, ATM, at a shop in Halifax on Wednesday, February 4, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

TORONTO — After the digital asset market plummeted in May, Toronto business owner and crypto investor Francine Gerstein said she felt a little uneasy while considering her next moves.

"The panic seller in me wants to sell everything and forget about the entire industry," she said. "However, the other part of me is trying to follow Nathan Rothschild's line, 'the time to buy is when there's blood in the streets' and right now it's very bloody."

The digital asset market lost US$300 billion in early May and has seen nearly US$2 trillion in value wiped out since reaching an all-time high back in November.

Gerstein started buying crypto in April 2021 and has been holding onto it ever since.

"I wish I got in earlier so I could have benefitted from the big run-up inthe years prior," she said.

New data from crypto exchange Bitbuy, which was recently acquired by Vancouver-based WonderFi Technologies, foundthat more and more Canadian women are jumping into the crypto market – a market that has been dominated by men – with 25 per cent of its users identifying as womencompared to 18 per cent four years ago.

Other platforms have seen similarincreases. Fintech company Wealthsimple said around one in six crypto clients identified as women when it launched its crypto trading platform back in July 2020. Since then, that statistic has increased to around one in five.

Industry watchers have found that women are generally more cautious when it comes to their crypto strategy, but don't always shy away from taking bigger risks.

Shannon Lee Simmons, financial planner and founder of the New School of Finance, saidthe COVID-19 pandemic has been a major driving force behind many of her women-identifying clients adding crypto to their portfolios, calling 2021 in particular a "watershed year."

"The pandemichad a lot of people at home on their phones with more eyes on social media where more content was being created around speculative investments, plus it is so much easier than ever before to get involved," she said. "Also, for some, it was out of desperation to make money fast, particularly those whose income was disrupted."

The women Lee Simmons works with are largely investing and holding rather than actively trading and see their crypto assets as another diversification tool in their long-term investment journey, rather than a get-rich-quick opportunity.

Additionally, Lee Simmons has found that women aren't putting as much money into the crypto market as men and are thinking about tax implications much earlier on, rather than after they've invested – something she said her male clients often do.

Trisha Paguyo, vice-president of institutional sales and trading at Bitbuy, said women traders are making 17 per cent bigger trades on average compared to men, based on the platform's data over the past four years.

And as the crypto market dramatically tanked last month, women investing through Bitbuy didn't get out, Paguyo said. Instead, they doubled down and saw the tumble as a bargain-hunting opportunity, with more than 50 per cent of them scooping up Bitcoin, Ethereum and other coins.

Paguyo also saidthat women are choosing many of the same digital coins as men, but noticed that they are trading a cryptocurrency called Mana at twice the frequency of all other coins, including Bitcoin. Mana lets users purchase or trade land and pay for goods and services in the virtual world, Decentraland.

Women investors tend to skew older than their male counterparts, she added.

According to a recent Ipsos poll, 17 per cent of Canadians are likely to buy crypto assets in the next year, and while the market crash could scare prospective investors off, there is a push by industry leaders, and even Conservative politicians, for the federal government to create a national and consistent regulatory framework, which could further increase interest in the sector.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2022.

Adena Ali, The Canadian Press

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