Ally’s image shows stock charts on a mobile device with the title “Crypto Hits the Big Screen” and a Weekly Viewpoint tag in the top left corner.

The big game has arrived … and crypto seeks to snag the spotlight.

Forget that one team is making their first appearance since 1989. Or the highly anticipated star-studded halftime show. Instead, cryptocurrency platforms Coinbase, FTX and Crypto.com might catch your eye as they spend millions on commercials. FTX is even giving away Bitcoin to four lucky winners.

The ads could momentarily shift the conversation from big price moves in crypto to whether the commercials were a flop or not. Regardless, showcasing crypto commercials during an event like this is a testament to how mainstream the topic has become.

There’s no doubt how popular digital currencies are these days. A recent Ally survey confirmed that most individuals have either invested in crypto or they plan to in the future.

Graph titled Crypto Popularity shows Ally survey results for the question “Do you currently own or invest in any cryptocurrency?" 41% responded yes, I directly or indirectly invest in crypto; 20% responded no, I would never invest in crypto; and 30% responded no, but am interested in buying in the future. Source: Ally

Here to Stay

A lot of people have already dipped their toes into crypto investing. In fact, about four out of 10 people you meet on the street have invested in crypto – and the survey also found that most of those people plan to keep investing in it, too. It’s clear the ‘crypto winter’ didn’t slow interest.

Notably, the Ally survey was fielded at the end of January, after crypto had fallen steeply into a bear market (a decline of 20% or more). After peaking in early November, two of the largest cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin and Ether – declined more than 45% to lows in late January. The last two weeks have been a welcome turnaround for holders, though.

It appears money might keep pouring into digital currencies despite recent volatility. 43% of current crypto owners increased their investment over the past 12 months. Additionally, 67% of them are likely to make a new crypto purchase in the coming year.

Still, those that haven’t tested the crypto waters yet are highly unlikely to dive in over the next 12 months.

Graph titled If You Don’t Own It shows Ally survey results for the question “How likely are you to make a new investment in crypto over the next 12 months?” 16% responded likely; 17% responded neutral; and 67% responded not likely. Source: Ally

Risk Aware, but Still Like Dogecoin

With big possible profits come big possible risk, and crypto investors understand that. More than three quarters of those who own coins believe investing in cryptocurrencies is risky, the Ally survey showed.

Many investors only allocate a small portion (5% or less) to crypto. Plus, they take a safeguarding step of diversifying their holdings. A significant percentage of crypto owners invest in five or more currencies.

Not surprisingly, Bitcoin and Ethereum are the most popular coins, but there is also significant interest in smaller coins. After monster volatility in tokens like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu last year, an appetite remains for these types of coins.

The biggest risks, according to respondents, are the risk of losing money, volatility and security concerns. Those who don’t invest in crypto also cite a lack of understanding as a primary driver of avoiding dabbling in digital currencies. Notably, environmental concerns were much lower on the list.

Why invest?

Among crypto investors, though, people just want to make money.

Long-time crypto owners (those who have invested in the arena for at least three years) are more likely to have more confidence in the future of DeFi (decentralized finance). Those fresh in the crypto space report wanting an asset that has strong upside potential and is new and exciting.

Graph titled Crypto Intrigue shows Ally survey results for the question “What are your reasons for investing in crypto currency?” 64% responded return on investment; 39% responded something new and exciting; 39% responded get in early on a new trend; 38% responded believe in DeFi’s future; and 36% responded risk level is acceptable. Source: Ally

Social media has played a key role in influencing investment decisions: Crypto investors are four times as likely to make an investment decision based on what they see on social media versus those who don’t have crypto exposure.

The Bottom Line

While crypto has become mainstream and seemingly has exciting prospects, it is still a new innovation, and there’s a lot for all of us to learn. It’s important to be mindful of all the risks in this still emerging asset class. It was just earlier this week when the DOJ seized $3.6 billion in Bitcoin related to a 2016 hack, reigniting the conversation about what government regulators’ role should be in crypto markets.

The good news is you don’t have to own coins to have exposure. You can invest in shares of companies that own crypto assets or ones that are building technology around crypto and DeFi. Another alternative is to own trusts and even some exchange-traded products tied to digital currencies. On Tuesday, a new ETF tied to the mining operations of the crypto market – Valkyrie Bitcoin Miners ETF (ticker: WGMI) – began trading, and more ETFs are likely on the way, too.

Whether you own crypto or have avoided the asset class so far, you won’t be able to avoid it during the big game on Sunday!

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Expert Take with speech bubble icon

Headshot of Lindsey BellLindsey Bell, Ally’s chief markets & money strategist, is an award-winning investment professional with a passion for personal finance and more than 17 years of Wall Street experience. Bell’s unique ability to connect the dots between data and real life and craft bite-sized money ideas that people can use and apply stems from her deep background as an analyst, researcher and portfolio manager at organizations including J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank. She is known for demonstrating why and how an understanding of all things money improves a person’s finances and overall well-being. An ongoing CNBC contributor, Bell empowers consumers and investors across all walks of life and frequently shares her insights with the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Kiplinger’s, Forbes and Business Insider. She also serves on the board of Better Investing, a non-profit focused on investment education.

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