During 2020 and 2021, the number of unique crypto wallets increased at a rate of around 20 million per a year, making the count stand at around 80 million today. That means that in only two years, the number of people involved in the space has doubled. Just think about it: That’s more than 1% of the entire planet’s population! And the more people get involved, the more will follow. Isn’t that mainstream adoption? It is for me.
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?”
Alex is the chief strategy officer of Offshift, a decentralized application dedicated to privacy-centric storage and exchange.
“It most certainly has not. Because cryptocurrency’s earliest applications involve financial applications, it has certainly been more conducive to speculation than other nascent industries and technologies. That being said, crypto’s use case potential extends far wider than the array of meta use cases we have seen in the DeFi and NFT spaces. Until DeFi begins competing with commercial banking, until publicly traded companies are shifting some portion of their shares to decentralized systems to compete with synthetics, until cryptocurrencies are used in point-of-sale transactions in place of fiat currency, adoption remains ahead of us. To that end, financial institutions exploring cryptocurrencies as hedges against inflation is exciting for the space, but it does not constitute adoption.”
André is the chief technology officer of Zebedee, which enables programmable payments and small transactions to power economies for virtual worlds.
“Mass adoption is definitely picking up, especially as Bitcoin, in particular, reached new levels of legitimacy in the eyes of investors, banks, corporations and entire nations. All the attention led to more active interest among the broader public but also highlighted the need to make it easier to onboard people. I think the key to unlocking the next tier of adoption lies in Bitcoin gaming, which offers a less intimidating use case and much simpler onboarding experience for people looking to earn and use crypto for the first time.”
Chris is the chief product officer of Phantom Wallet, a Solana wallet built for DeFi and NFTs.
“We’re seeing more and more people entering the space who have never used crypto before. This may not necessarily mean mass adoption, but we’re seeing a faster growth rate than ever before.
Cheaper blockchains are allowing new use cases and new audiences to start to onboard and experiment with DApps.
Mobile is the giant unlock for reaching the mass adoption level. Traditionally, it has been slow and expensive to use DApps — but now that it’s cheap and fast with layer one’s like Solana, we’re going to see a whole bunch of people flood the space and be able to access Web3 for the first time.”
Filipe is the DeFi architect at Ankr, a scalable protocol built to offer multichain infrastructure for plug-and-play DeFi solutions and multichain staking for DeFi.
“With nation-states like El Salvador adopting Bitcoin and more countries considering central bank digital currencies, they will soon realize that cryptocurrencies are not just a means of payment but the native currency of a broader blockchain where they need to build their government services and eventually change the very poor foundational banking layer that exists. Things like bank settlements and trade settlements take two to three days to settle. In blockchain, this type of transaction finality is simply unacceptable, but that’s what’s happening in traditional finance. This is when decentralized applications and smart contracts can power the new economy and enable true scalability across the two ecosystems.”
James is the head of business development at Eden Network, an optional, non-consensus-breaking transaction-ordering protocol for Ethereum blocks.
“In 2021, we have seen the spark of mass adoption, but we are nowhere near there yet.
Household brands like Coke and Pepsi are using ‘GMI’ and ‘NGMI’ in their social media posts, and millions of people got into crypto to buy memecoins like Dogecoin.
A lot of consumers are now well aware that cryptocurrency exists; however, they still just see the base layer of coins like DOGE and Bitcoin. Mass adoption will come from the general person understanding the level of utility cryptocurrency provides.
Under the surface, we are seeing a revolution of the banking and transaction settlement layer, but the general public has not seen or understood this just yet. Large brands pushing their audience into blockchain seems like a good way to move users into the space.”
Joshua is the co-founder and CEO of SupraOracles, which develops a blockchain network that uses real-time data on the financial markets for a secure interface and DeFi smart contracts.
“This year has been a big one for cryptocurrency. Not only has the market made significant gains, but we are seeing increased adoption from the ongoing use of DeFi and the huge amount of interest generated from NFTs. To continue to see the market grow, we need to improve DeFi security and increase competition in the oracle space. Once these issues have been resolved, I think we will see even more traditional finance businesses moving to cryptocurrency. Also, I think that blockchain games and GameFi will likewise be a boon for our industry as we steadily march toward greater mass adoption.”
Marc is the CEO of Sortium, the company developing CryptoGene, a play-to-earn Web 3.0 game.
“With the explosive growth in NFTs this year, I think we are now tracking toward much wider adoption of cryptocurrency, blockchain and associated technology. We are seeing Fortune 500 corporations court the NFT industry, financial and lending institutions adopt DeFi, and retail investors enter the crypto market en masse. Current reports state that nearly 20% of the U.S. is invested in cryptocurrency in some way. We are still early but are on the precipice of mass adoption.”
Michael is the CEO at Fantom Foundation, a layer-one EVM-compatible platform that is fast, scalable and secure, built on a permissionless aBFT consensus protocol.
“Mass adoption has been ongoing for several years. Over time, we are seeing cryptocurrencies becoming more and more mainstream. For example, a few big pension and retirement funds in the U.S. and Australia have begun making investments in the space, something that has never happened before.
We will continue to see accelerated crypto adoption as more and more mainstream companies and governments participate in it.”
Rodrigo is the chief financial officer of Prime Trust, a blockchain-driven trust company that provides API-driven open banking solutions.
“Over the past 12 months, the digital asset industry has matured significantly. From exchange-traded funds to celebrity endorsements to stadium naming rights, crypto has moved from a niche market of early adopters to more mainstream awareness. New and exciting use cases continue to emerge, and innovation continues to push blockchain technology forward, integrating with the wider financial sector by allowing crypto holders to use their tokens as payment.
To reach critical mass adoption, we need increased participation from a diverse set of investors that want access to crypto, as this increases liquidity and builds out the market infrastructure. Wealth management platforms are servicing this need by building customized solutions for independent registered investment advisors (RIAs), an area of the crypto market that is taking off. For more conservative investors, the lack of regulation in the market might be keeping them on the sidelines. To overcome investors’ concerns, wealth management platforms will need stronger compliance programs to address the advanced technological nature of digital assets such as stablecoins, clearer guidance from regulators for national banks integrating crypto, and more robust cryptocurrency crime and tax evasion laws. With more confidence among general investors, we believe crypto will continue to see strong mass adoption across sectors.”
Sebastian is the chief strategy officer at Coinsource, a Bitcoin ATM provider in the United States.
“In 2022, we expect more countries to follow El Salvador’s lead and adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, particularly countries across Latin America and Asia. As a result, we anticipate an increase in the number of Bitcoin ATMs across Latin America, and also in Europe. As new countries adopt, it is likely U.S. dominance in the crypto industry will be reduced.
Regulation of crypto will continue into 2022, which is generally a good thing. However, it must be reasonable and fairly applicable to all. We have the potential to solve compliance in many of the protocols once and for all, so we need to double down on this. The industry is on a good path to increase the standards by which it measures compliance, but there needs to be a dialogue between experts on both sides of the regulatory debate.
Nefarious activity within the crypto space has been on a steep decline for several years now. Alignment on regulation, such as in the EU with MiCA, will create a level playing field that will allow for continued growth in the long term. We hope the U.S. will soon follow in providing regulatory clarity and guidelines that will keep it on foot as a key hub for global crypto innovation.
We have witnessed huge growth within the Bitcoin ATM, or BTM, industry in 2021, with global installations up by 70%. We do not see this slowing down any time soon. With so much activity in the market and the strong demand for BTMs from all sorts of known and new target customer groups, we believe that the BTM space will continue to grow at a similar, or even faster, rate. It is projected that the number of BTM installations will hit 100,000 by 2025, and we would say that this is a conservative estimate.”
Tim is a pioneer of business ventures in the United States and a co-founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a leading investment firm in early-stage tech startups.
“I think anyone with a young brain already has a wallet. The rest will follow. The same thing happened with internet adoption.”
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.