Cryptocurrency is becoming mainstream, and the younger generation of the world is especially noticing it. Crypto.com recently predicted that by the end of 2022, the number of cryptocurrency users worldwide could reach one billion. Other findings show that millennials – people between the ages of 26 and 41 – are turning to investing in digital assets to accumulate wealth. For example, a 2021 study by personal loan company Stilt found that according to their user data, more than 94% of people who have held crypto are between the ages of 18 and 40.
Keep children safe
While there has been a growing interest in cryptocurrencies, some have raised concerns about how people under the age of 18 will interact with digital assets. These issues are highlighted in UNICEF’s latest report, “Prospects for Children in 2022,” which looks at the impact that global trends may have on children, including concerns about the widespread use of cryptocurrencies.
Melvin Britton Guerrero, a policy specialist in the UNICEF Office of Global Policy and Analysis, told Cointelegraph that he wrote the cryptocurrency section of the report. According to Guerrero, this part of the document is very relevant because the cryptocurrency industry is still developing and thus requires protection from children:
“We must take steps to prevent harm to children from third parties’ use of cryptocurrency or self-harm. Thus, we must prepare children under the age of 18 for a future where cryptocurrency and blockchain applications become a part of everyday life, just like the Internet.”
While there are no official guarantees for children regarding access to crypto and blockchain applications, Guerrero explained that one of the most important factors to consider is age verification. “We need to ensure that minors do not accidentally use blockchain applications or misuse cryptocurrencies,” he said.
Since his cryptocurrency transactions are anonymised, Guerrero knows that anyone can set up and access a crypto wallet. He added that some online cryptocurrency exchanges do not question the age of their users. “A kid can transact with different crypto wallets, and nothing can be done,” Guerrero said.
While there is technically no age limit when it comes to cryptocurrencies, most major cryptocurrency exchanges have requirements to ensure that users are 18 or over. For example, Coinbase explicitly states that users must be over 18 years old to access the Services. But prior to implementing this policy in July 2017, Coinbase allowed users who were at least 13 years old to access their services with parental consent.
It is also interesting to note that US cryptocurrency exchange Gemini offers accounts for minors. A company blog post published Jan. 25 explains that the new service is powered by EarlyBird, a portfolio company from the Gemini Frontier Fund, and allows parents to invest in their children’s financial future.
Caleb Frankel, co-founder and COO of Early Bird, told Cointelegraph that the proposal aims to provide access to digital assets so that parents can invest on behalf of their children:
“Every account belongs to a parent or guardian over the age of 18. We believe cryptocurrency is part of a modern, balanced portfolio and prioritizes the education of families and the next generation of investors as the digital asset markets evolve.”
Frankl added that EarlyBird not only works with Gemini, but also actively cooperates with regulators to ensure the development of a safe and secure crypto system. While no progress has yet been made, Guerrero noted that it is important to ensure that new wallets are always created by people of legal age. Although children do not make wallets at first, Guerrero believes that it is one of the solutions that will enable them to use cryptocurrency correctly.
Unfortunately, when children gain access to cryptocurrencies, other problems can arise as well. For example, 2021 saw an increase in cryptocurrency scams, and children without experience in this sector are likely to be most at risk. Larry Cameron, director of information security for the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Initiative (ATII), an organization dedicated to combating human trafficking through monitoring cryptocurrency transactions, told Cointelegraph that there are several risks to consider when children are involved in cryptocurrency: