What would it take for you to consider crypto mainstream? For me personally, one of the main indicators for adoption rate is the percentage of people involved and interested in the space. The world now belongs to the millennials — the Y and Z generations of whom we thought as kids not so long ago — they are the economic driver if not now, then in the near future. A massive 83% of polled millennial millionaires revealed in a recent survey that they had made crypto investments. It seems like the decentralization process can no longer be halted, meaning that mass adoption is inevitable — and it is happening now.
But that’s just my opinion. To gain more insight on the matter, I reached out to different experts from the crypto and blockchain industry, asking them: “With 2021 coming to an end, in your opinion, has crypto’s mass adoption already begun? What could help it reach the level of mass adoption it needs?”
Alan is the chief legal officer at PrimeBlock, a sustainable Bitcoin mining operation, infrastructure solutions provider and member of the Bitcoin Mining Council, with locations spread across North America.
“The question should be: Mass adoption for what purpose? Mass adoption as a speculative asset like stocks and bonds? Mass adoption as some kind of a payment medium? Mass adoption as some kind of a store of value? You need to think carefully about what the use case at hand is because certainly when we think of crypto as currency, meaning as payment instruments, there is still a lot of work to do.
When you think of crypto as an investable asset or, depending on the macro environment, as an inflation edge, there has been a lot of progress. Bitcoin will never have mass adoption as a payment medium and won’t be able to scale globally for this purpose. However, Bitcoin is gaining more adoption as a speculative asset, and for some, as a store of value among institutional and retail investors, including in the form of ETFs and pension plans.”
Alexander is the CEO and co-founder of Unique Network, a scalable blockchain for composable NFTs with advanced economies — The NFT chain built for Polkadot and Kusama.
“From a true definition of ‘mass adoption’ — meaning critical mass — no, we have not scratched the surface of mass adoption of crypto. When a majority of global consumers are using cryptocurrency or owning NFTs and participating in DAOs without knowing that they are using blockchain-based technologies — that will be when mass adoption has been reached. I think the spark has been lit, but it’s going to require deeper integration, accessible tools that are easy to use by normal people, and extreme flexibility in technical and economic design or perhaps a subversion of the current technological paradigm before we can say crypto has achieved mass adoption.”
Anton is a co-founder of 1inch Network, a distributed network of decentralized protocols.
“Mass adoption requires accessibility for the masses, but the Ethereum mainnet is not suitable for that right now because of enormously high gas fees. As we can see, a lot of users already switched to sidechains like BSC, Polygon, Avalanche, Solana and others to avoid those fees. Unfortunately, Ethereum Optimistic Rollup layer-two solutions like Optimism and Arbitrum are still in their early alpha or beta stages of development, while Ethereum zk-rollup layer-two solutions like zkSync and zkPorter are not even released yet. Looking forward to all the new blockchain tech launches in 2022!”
David is the DeFi economist at ConsenSys, a global community of developers, businesspeople, programmers, journalists, lawyers and others made to create and promote blockchain infrastructure and peer-to-peer applications.
“2021 has been a year of many defining moments in blockchain: from critical performance upgrades, the Ethereum EIP-1559 fork and the growth of competing layer-one chains such as Solana to a surge in institutional investment from the likes of BlackRock, Citibank and Visa to Bitcoin becoming legal tender in El Salvador. Yet, crypto is still much further from mass adoption than these milestones might suggest. Part of the reason stems from a widespread lack of easily accessible, user-friendly interfaces. To the crypto-naive, the ecosystem is largely inaccessible beyond basic interactions like trading on centralized exchanges (which unsurprisingly make UI and UX part of their core business). Going deeper and navigating across chains and between DApps can become unnecessarily complicated, even for crypto natives. Decentralized finance, for instance, presents the opportunity to democratize financial services and facilitates more equitable outcomes than traditional finance. However, harnessing its utility through basic functions like collateralized loans or high-interest savings accounts often requires interfacing with many different protocols and bridging digital assets back-and-forth. If the future is truly one of mass adoption, it will involve a seamless experience in which users can quickly and easily navigate through these processes, ideally without even knowing which chain or layer they’re operating on.”
Denelle is the CEO and executive director of Stellar Development Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the development and growth of Stellar.
“In a word: interoperability. I talk about this all the time. For all of its inefficiencies and gaps, the traditional financial system is not going away any time soon, and neither is cash — but this is what most people know best. Part of blockchain’s value is in how it connects traditional and digital banking rails. More interoperability means more opportunities to bring people in, introduce them to the value that blockchain-powered services provide, and grow adoption beyond the crypto-converted.”
Jonathan is the CEO at Aleph.im, an open-source, cross-blockchain decentralized storage and computing network.
“With countries like El Salvador making Bitcoin legal tender and major companies like Facebook changing their name to Meta, it’s evident that crypto’s mass adoption has begun. NFTs and play-to-earn gaming have helped bring the mainstream masses into crypto by offering a more fun and interactive way to engage in the space. These could also be key to helping crypto reach the level of mass adoption it needs.”
Lisa is an Elliott Wave specialist trader with over 20 years of experience in traditional stocks and commodities, now exclusively trading cryptocurrency. She runs and co-owns Getting Started In Crypto, Thousand To Millions and The Moon Mag with Josh Taylor.
“Crypto adoption is very much in its beginning stage. It has a long way to go before the masses understand and are using crypto daily as they do cash. We need ease of use, so everyone from your grandma to a five-year-old can open up an app and use Bitcoin or any other crypto.”
Mark is the CEO and co-founder of Shipyard Software, a decentralized exchange for retail crypto traders.
“There are two phases to mass adoption. Phase one is having crypto as part of one’s portfolio, typically through a centralized custodian like Coinbase. Over 16% of Americans and 43% of young male adults have used crypto. While there is still a long way to go, I think that qualifies as mass adoption. However, there is a second phase of mass adoption. Phase two involves holding one’s own crypto and interacting with Web3 applications, from games to DeFi. We are nowhere near phase two. The reason is primarily because it’s so technically complex to hold one’s own crypto. The reason it’s so technically complex is because there are regulatory barriers to simplifying the user experience — namely, custodying assets. We sit on the precipice of a swingback, where phase two of mass adoption could be stalled because of improper regulatory oversight or outright bans. The world and the established order are scared of what crypto, blockchain and decentralization can achieve. Don’t expect an orderly mass adoption like the touchscreen cellphone. When you can pay your taxes in crypto you yourself hold, I’ll call that mass adoption.”
Ray is the CEO of Paxful, a global people-powered platform for buying, selling and trading digital currencies.
“The prospect of Bitcoin reaching mass adoption sooner than we think is massive. Mass adoption has started and Bitcoin is the future of finance. There are many key driving forces like gaming and sports that are contributing to its visibility. The expansion of Bitcoin as a means of exchange in the U.S. is gaining greater traction as we see mayors from New York City and Miami speaking very publicly about Bitcoin adoption while taking steps to integrate it within their own cities. Its implications are boundless.”
Sameep is the founder of QuickSwap, a decentralized exchange on Polygon that allows users to swap, earn, stack yields, lend, borrow and leverage all on one decentralized, community-driven platform.
“Just compare the overall market caps from the beginning of 2021 until today to illustrate how much crypto has grown this year. According to CoinMarketCap, on Jan. 1, crypto’s market cap was about $773 billion. Now it’s over $2.3 trillion. Despite the dollar’s rapid inflation, to me, annual growth of more than $1.5 trillion definitely suggests that mass adoption has begun, but there’s still a lot of room for crypto to continue to grow.
To enable that growth, more people need to learn about the alternatives to expensive layer-one chains, where gas fees can sometimes cost more than a transaction itself. That’s why I’ve always been a big supporter of Polygon, and it’s why I helped found QuickSwap. At Polygon, we aren’t competing with Ethereum or attempting to replace it, we’re helping Ethereum by providing a layer two where people can conduct transactions for far less than they cost on layer one. This service enables smaller investors to participate in DeFi with near-zero gas fees, while larger whales can continue to operate on layer one.”
Simon is a co-founder of Liquality, a multi-chain browser extension wallet.
“Around 17% of the adult population own at least part of a Bitcoin. So, mass adoption is certainly underway, but barriers to entry like fiat on and off ramping, high fees, and ease of use still prevent us from getting to the broader population. To help bring crypto to the mainstream in 2022, crypto enthusiasts and product developers will need to continue iterating on the basics of onboarding and crypto usage to make it easy enough and fun enough for the mass adoption of crypto applications like DeFi and NFTs. Wallets will play a critically important role in making complex crypto applications into simplified operations via in-wallet integrations, as well as easy bridging between all layer ones and layer twos to simplify the experience of using crypto for users.”
Yat is the executive chairman and co-founder of Animoca Brands, which delivers digital property rights to the world’s gamers and internet users, thereby creating a new asset class, play-to-earn economies and a more equitable digital framework contributing to the building of the open Metaverse.
“Although we are still at a relatively early stage of the blockchain adoption curve, we are well on the way to reaching the early majority category sometime in 2022. This is being led by NFT gaming and the GameFi movement. As more game developers get involved and higher-quality game projects become available, mass adoption is inevitable.”
These quotes have been edited and condensed.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.