The entry of major brands — from Nike and Adidas to McDonald’s and Burger King — into the blockchain industry through nonfungible tokens (NFTs) is indeed attracting a lot of people to use, or at least know of, decentralized technologies. And that’s how it starts: You hear about something, you go look for it to understand it, you see the benefits — and there you are, already involved in crypto. Simple as that.
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?”
Ahmed is a co-founder of Biconomy, a platform that empowers blockchain developers to enable a simplified transaction and onboarding experience for their Web3 project.
“In some ways, crypto has reached mass adoption as an investment vehicle. We are also seeing it continue to take a foothold within the gaming community, and this is where we believe it will see peak adoption in the coming year. In order to get there, and this goes for both gaming and non-gaming DApps, we believe that we need a multichain scalable ecosystem, an ecosystem where users are not deterred by exorbitantly high gas fees or complex UX for onboarding, rather having various ‘cheaper’ chains to choose from.
To achieve this multichain, seamless Web 3.0, cross-chain smart contracts and in-game bridges will need to be implemented industrywide. This level of interoperability will allow people to interact from chain to chain, which has been one of the biggest friction points for user experience. The user will stay on a single DApp UI and be able to move funds between chains using these in-DApp bridges and interacting with smart contracts via various chains’ cross-chain contract calls.”
Alex is a writer, speaker, investor and adviser focused on the impact of emerging technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies. He is the general manager of Ninepoint Digital Assets Group, an investment management services provider in the field of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
“2021 was a milestone year for the mass adoption of crypto, as millions of people were drawn, for the first time, to the application layer built on top of blockchains. In the past, pure speculation has driven interest in various crypto assets and projects. Now, people are getting into crypto for other reasons. Maybe it’s for the cultural communities around NFTs or the new DeFi tools that are upending traditional financial services. Or perhaps they’re part of the hundreds of thousands of people playing play-to-earn videogames for the potential rewards they offer. I fully expect that the next billion people to join crypto will get involved because it’s fun, useful and engaging, not just because it’s a way to make money.”
Ankitt is the CEO of EasyFi Network, a layer-two DeFi lending protocol for digital assets.
“This year was definitely a start for the mainstream entry of cryptocurrencies. If we look at the stats, the number of cryptocurrency users in 2020 was about 100 million, and in 2021, this number jumped to over 300 million. So, we can definitely vouch for the mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrencies. All trends also project that 2022 could be a really defining year for crypto. With thousands of innovative crypto projects coming into the picture and world governments taking note of digital assets, the number of crypto users could grow exponentially.”
David is the founder of XX Network, a consumer-scale, quantum-ready online platform that allows users to communicate and exchange value without revealing so-called “metadata.”
“Mass adoption has absolutely started. Back in early November, I was at a Lakers game at what was until very recently the Staples Center, now the Crypto.com Center, here in Los Angeles. Crypto.com paid parent company AEG $700 million for those naming rights. So, not only could it afford it, it saw this as a sound business decision. Nothing implies a popular brand like having a sports arena named after it (unless you’re Comcast, in which case, well, that may not help.) Anyway, before the game started, I was buying some Bitcoin ETF on Nasdaq, where it is now traded, with my phone — while also trying to get the McDonald’s McRib NFTs, valued at only $20. So, even if they stop selling that legendary sandwich again in the U.S., I’d always have its image to gaze at. While I was waiting, I saw the new Tom Brady FTX commercial. Apparently, you can loathe Tom Brady and still want to trade on FTX. Does that mean FTX is more popular than Tom Brady? Seriously though, all this does signal that crypto is going mainstream.
What could help: a little privacy, please. In fact, more than a little.”
Hatu is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of DAO Maker, which creates growth technologies and funding frameworks for startups while simultaneously reducing risks for investors.
“Yes, and without a doubt, crypto’s mass adoption has begun at the grassroots levels, with retail users increasing by the day. The outlook toward crypto, as an investment, is growing in optimism and is helping fuel more people into this space. Also, courtesy of DeFi, crypto as a financial instrument is garnering users.
With the NFT market growing rapidly, we can always expect the user base to overlap with the crypto market. Institutions and governments adopting crypto are also on the rise. They also act as a credibility layer for the crypto market. So, it would be a brain fade if I were to overlook the mass adoption of crypto taking place as we speak.
Education and acceptance will be the two drivers of the further mass adoption of crypto. Currently, a substantial portion of the crypto population is in the market because of the generated hype, intending to earn a quick buck or two. However, for the crypto market to mature, educated users and investors are required.
Next, institutions, individuals and governments alike should be open to accepting crypto as a medium of exchange. This is when the potential of crypto can be truly realized. When education and acceptance of crypto grows, its infamous tag-along ‘volatility’ subsides and stability improves.”
Johnny is the CEO of KuCoin, a secure cryptocurrency exchange that makes it easier to buy, sell and store cryptocurrencies.
“Mass adoption is inseparable from the recognition of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment around the world, and there are some difficulties with this. Given the interest and real actions from institutional investors, the outgoing year can be called quite successful for cryptocurrencies.
We cannot ignore the exponential growth in the use of cryptocurrencies among the global population. The number of active crypto addresses, the number of smartphones with installed digital wallets, and the trading volumes on crypto exchanges continue to grow. Surprisingly, this growth does not depend on regulators’ and administrations’ stances on digital assets. The spread of cryptocurrencies is also increasing even in countries where their use is restricted or prohibited. I think Satoshi Nakamoto would be pleased with the way cryptocurrencies are sweeping away regulatory barriers.
To sum up, we can talk about the active process of the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. When exactly this process began is a debatable question. We can probably take the date of publication of Satoshi’s article ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,’ the launch of the Bitcoin network or the first post on Bitcointalk as countdown starters, as all these events are links in a single chain called the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies.”
Leemon is the chief scientist at Hedera Hashgraph, a sustainable, enterprise-grade public ledger for the decentralized economy.
“The distributed ledger market saw traction with real-world applications in 2021, and I expect this usage to explode in 2022. After years of interest within a small blockchain community, we’ll see it become a major force in the world economy and society. The market is so nascent — we’ve barely scratched the surface of what the technology can do both for both personal and business use. When the iPhone was launched, the App Store was a mere glimpse of what it would look like today. Early apps, like a digital lightsaber, were entertaining. But today, I can conduct essentially all my business functions on my phone — using robust, interoperable apps for banking, work, socializing and more. This has driven the explosion of the ecosystem, and I expect we’ll see the same for applications that require decentralized trust.”
Martha is the head of research at Bequant, a digital asset exchange and prime broker.
“Yes! Recent data shows 100 million Indians and 27 million Americans hold crypto, suggesting it is becoming more mainstream. Globally, only around 3.9% of people have digital assets to date. This is over 300 million people, suggesting mainstream adoption is well underway. However, these are still modest numbers, as crypto has the potential to be adopted by billions in the coming years.
For institutions, adoption this year has risen dramatically. At Bequant, we have seen increasing interest from traditional financial institutions, with rising trading volumes in 2021, and expect this trend to continue as more players see the trading and investment opportunities in the crypto space.”
Paolo is the chief technology of Bitfinex, a digital asset trading platform offering state-of-the-art services for digital currency traders and global liquidity providers.
“Crypto has undoubtedly entered the mass consciousness this year. Still, in terms of using Bitcoin for payments and services, we are far from achieving mass adoption. This will inevitably change as the growth that we’ve witnessed in the Lightning Network continues to accelerate.
The Lightning Network has capabilities beyond those of current operating systems within both the crypto space and traditional financial ecosystems. With the potential to oversee millions of transactions per second, an extraordinary advancement, it far exceeds payment providers such as Visa, which currently manages about 60,000 transactions per second.
The adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador has also been an important juncture on this journey as major corporations adopt the technology as a means of facilitating payments. If you look at where crypto was five years ago, there were few projects coming to fruition with tangible results. Now, in 2021, we’re seeing everyone from Twitter to small businesses looking to integrate cryptocurrency in some way. In three years, the majority of businesses that have the capacity to facilitate crypto payments will do so, with many utilizing the Lightning Network. While I would not like to make specific predictions as to when the Lightning Network will achieve mass adoption, I believe this is inevitable in the years to come. At the end of the decade, we will be standing in a very different place.”
Roger is an early Bitcoin adopter and investor. He is the executive chairman of Bitcoin.com, a site featuring cryptocurrency news in addition to an exchange and wallet service. He is also one of the five original founders of the Bitcoin Foundation.
“Crypto’s mass adoption started the day Satoshi released Bitcoin to the world and was accelerated by the launch of the Silk Road.
The more people use crypto as cash, the more adoption it will have around the world.”
Sergey is the co-founder and CEO of Axelar, a universal interoperability network securely connecting all blockchain ecosystems, applications, assets and users.
“As we move forward into 2022, there are more blockchain networks than ever before, and mass adoption has begun. This coming year, it’s critical that these chains are developed to communicate with one another so that assets such as tokens, NFTs and smart contract information can be transferred between chains. This represents a significant challenge for the year ahead. In 2021, we saw developers and blockchain firms approach this problem by attempting to build one-off bridges between two networks, or interoperability add-ons to connect various components of their ecosystem. This has proved to be inefficient and adds unnecessary security risks for the ecosystem, as these approaches often rely on a centralized party moving assets from one chain to another. Despite the existing challenges, we now see the demand and have a huge opportunity to accelerate the blockchain space by connecting these siloed blockchains. In the coming year, we’re going to witness the development of singular, universal infrastructures that help blockchain ecosystems achieve true interoperability, taking the industry a step closer to mainstream adoption.”
Simon is the crypto analyst at eToro, a social trading platform that offers investing in both stocks and cryptocurrencies.
“2021 has been a significant year for crypto assets. From the launch of the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF to El Salvador making Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin its legal tender and the birth of a ‘Bitcoin City,’ crypto is increasingly being adopted as a mainstream financial instrument.
Bitcoin and Ether have seen exceptional returns in the current bull market, reaching fresh all-time highs. Bitcoin, specifically, has achieved some key milestones, with Tesla buying $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin — arguably the most high-profile Bitcoin transaction this year. Additionally, Taproot — the first upgrade in four years to the Bitcoin network — has opened doors for developers to integrate new features improving privacy, scalability and security on the network.”
Yaniv is the co-founder and CEO of Edge Node and a co-founder of The Graph, a decentralized indexing protocol used by blockchains such as Ethereum.
Mass awareness of crypto and Web3 has already started. Celebrities, mainstream media and even the U.S. government are all talking about crypto. The next stage is for usage to exceed speculation, which we see coming very soon. As the Web3 stack solidifies, better applications will become possible with network effects around composable data that will launch Web3 into widespread use.
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.