Between 2020 and 2021, the number of crypto wallets has grown at a rate of around 20 million per year, and today the number is around 80 million. This means that in just two years, the number of people involved in the crypto space has doubled. This figure has exceeded 1% of the entire earth’s population. In a survey of investors initiated by CNBC, more than 10% of investors indicated that they participated in the investment of encrypted assets, so encrypted assets have become another popular participation after real estate, stocks, mutual funds and bonds. investment variety.
Next, we review the development of the crypto industry in 2021 from 7 perspectives:
- NFT Mania: From Word of the Year to Mainstream Adoption
- Industry experts predict
- Large Financial Institutions Turn to Crypto Industry
- Crypto Unicorns
- Crypto meets sports
- Traditional companies turn to the crypto industry
- Bitcoin Futures ETF Approved for Listing
NFT Mania: From Word of the Year to Mainstream Adoption
NFT is Corinthian Dictionary’s word of the year for 2021, and dictionary experts believe that the acronym for Non-Fungible Token is more representative of the world’s mainstream this year than any recent buzzword.
Just as the NFT space developed in 2021, industry players expect NFT adoption to accelerate in 2022.
Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein believes NFTs around use cases beyond digital art will flourish in the coming years: “The public discourse and momentum around NFTs is a testament to the material value of digital verification. In the coming years, we will Will continue to see NFTs evolve from their current limited use case (digital art) to new, more complex use cases. We would like to see further convergence of the physical and digital worlds, especially around themes such as authenticity, provenance, ownership, and fashion , music, gaming, real estate and ticketing.”
Google searches for “NFT” soar
NFT “out of the circle” is one of the most significant trends in the crypto industry in 2021. According to data from Google Trends, “Crypto” has been the most popular search term in Web 3.0, however, in the beginning of the first quarter of 2021, “NFT” approached “crypto” for the first time and briefly surpassed it in December.
Image: Global search volume for “NFT” and “crypto”
In some regions known for their high adoption of crypto assets (Africa, Asia), NFTs have surpassed Bitcoin on Google Trends. For example, in Japan, NFTs are more popular in the second half of 2021. In Ukraine, a similar “flip” occurred in early November. But in Nigeria, the NFT mania is still lagging: both cryptoassets and bitcoin are more popular here.
Image: Search volume for “NFT” versus “crypto” in Japan
Iconic Moments in 2021
The most iconic NFT moment of 2021 occurred in March, when crypto artist Beeple sold his NFT artwork “The First 5000 Days” to Metakovan for $69 million through established auction house Christie’s. The winning bid places Beeple among the three most valuable living artists in the world, according to Christie’s auction records. This is undoubtedly an important moment for crypto art and declares to the world that NFTs are a force to be reckoned with.
Image: Showcase of The First 5000 Days
Shortly after Beeple’s sky-high sale of NFTs, Sotheby’s, another established auction house, followed suit with an auction featuring crypto artists.
In addition, Christie’s held an auction for the crypto industry’s most popular NFT series, CryptoPunks, and Sotheby’s held an auction for the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), both of which were quickly featured in the NFT space and mainstream news media It was also undoubtedly one of the most memorable moments for the community.
BAYC is off the beaten path
The Boring Ape (BAYC) series, which debuted in April last year, is undoubtedly one of the most popular NFTs in the market, as it provides users with a wealth of choices and diverse features. In this series, each ape’s Features are algorithmically generated randomly, so each ape has a unique background style, clothing, earrings, eyes, mouth, and fur.This undoubtedly meets the needs of people today to show their individuality. Celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon, NBA player Stephen Curry and billionaire investor Mark Cuban are also holders of Boring Ape NFTs.
After half a year of experience, BAYC officially transformed. In November, it cooperated with Universal Music Group and legendary hip-hop producer Timbaland to launch two metaverse bands. And Yuga Labs, creator of the Boring Ape series, has signed veteran music manager Guy Oseary to explore opportunities in a variety of potential formats, including film, television, music and video games. In addition, Yuga Labs is also continuing to increase its exploration in the crypto world, planning to launch an Ethereum-based cryptoassets in the first quarter of 2022. The token can be used to reward NFT holders, as well as for governance in DAOs, ultimately helping Boring Ape expand into the DeFi space.
Image: The 4 Boring Apes who “debuted” in Universal Music Group’s Metaverse
Big brand participation
According to InftNews, the most important mainstream crossover collaboration to date is Adidas’ collaboration with BAYC, Gmoney and PUNKS Comics. In order to discuss plans with new partners, Adidas has also launched a new Twitter account “Adidas Originals” and Use the purchased BAYC #8774 as their profile picture.
The purpose of this move, of course, is to chase the metaverse craze. Adidas announced exploring the metaverse on Adidas Originals shortly after, and to explain its idea to users, they also released a short video depicting the Boring Ape held by Adidas and its partners seamlessly traversing the sky and into the metaverse. screen.
Ubisoft became the first game developer to apply NFT to its AAA masterpiece. In December 2021, Ubisoft announced the launch of a digital platform called Quartz on the Tezos blockchain for players to acquire in-game NFTs. The first NFT is a game item in “Ghost Recon: Breakpoint”. Players can receive NFT for free after meeting the level and playing time in the limited-time open beta.
However, although Ubisoft’s entry brought NFTs into the mainstream world, and it was also freely available, their efforts were not well received. In fact, their YouTube video received more than 20,000 “dislikes” within the first hour, and the company faced protests on its social media for “NFT energy consumption”, forcing it to take the video down. For now, it remains to be seen whether Ubisoft will continue with its plans.
This also reflects that NFTs still require a lot of education to be accepted and adopted by a wider mainstream audience.
Of course, Ubisoft’s efforts don’t stop there. Ubisoft’s blockchain technology director has revealed that the digital platform is just the first step to see how players interact with NFTs. “Play-to-Earn” and blockchain games, which will be popular in 2021, are also in their consideration.
Why enter the NFT field? The director made a lot of sense: The move to decentralization means Ubisoft will give players more control, and blockchain will only truly change games when game developers put the player at the center. Only in this way can players have endless possibilities for the game world. For example, game items will no longer be bound to a single game world. From a technical level, the real interconnection between game worlds can be realized, and this will also open the door to the real “metaverse”, which is the ultimate goal of Ubisoft. .
In addition to the above list, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and other companies have launched their own NFTs.
NFTs are still a new technology in its early stages, but we are already seeing its appeal to mainstream companies and big brands in 2021, and wider mainstream adoption of NFTs is inevitable, either slowly or quickly.
Industry experts predict
Looking at the development of the crypto industry through a traditional lens, you can see the current state of development and the future trends.
André Neves, CEO of Zebedee, believes: “Mass adoption is definitely increasing, especially as Bitcoin reaches a level of legitimacy in the eyes of investors, banks, businesses and some countries. Such attention is bound to generate public interest. I It is believed that the key to unlocking the next stage of “mainstreaming” lies in Bitcoin, which provides a simple use case and experience for users looking to use crypto assets for the first time. “
Michael Kong, CEO of the Fantom Foundation, said: “Mass adoption has been going on for a few years. Over time, we’ve seen crypto assets become more mainstream. For example, some large pension funds and Retirement funds have started investing in this market, something that has never happened before. We will continue to see more examples of crypto asset adoption as more mainstream companies and governments get involved.”
Larry Pang, head of business development at IoTeX, said: “The blockchain and crypto space has passed the ‘innovator’ stage in the life cycle of technology applications and is currently in the ‘early adopter’ stage. In 2021, we have seen Going to household names like Visa, Facebook, and SoftBank to build, adopt, and invest in crypto has legitimized the technology and, more importantly, has given investors the confidence to explore this budding industry.”
Don Basile, CEO of Roman DBDR, noted, “Tesla, Square, and MicroStrategy all have Bitcoin on their balance sheets. It doesn’t get more mainstream than that.”
While the current crypto industry is still a niche player, there are some thoughtful steps that can be taken to advance this trend, not the least of which are clear regulations from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). . Other countries are ahead of the U.S. in this, providing a safe haven for the industry. Switzerland and Singapore are notoriously regulated, but they know that is exactly what this nascent industry needs.
Large Financial Institutions Turn to Crypto Industry
Institutional interest in crypto and digital assets is growing exponentially in 2021, and traditional banks are joining the signs.
Large multinational bank – Citibank is one of the financial institutions that is increasingly interested in crypto assets. In May, the bank said it was considering launching a service to support crypto assets after receiving a flood of requests from customers. In late August, the bank also revealed that it was considering offering bitcoin futures for some institutional clients.
Citibank has made its point several times throughout 2021, such as its view that whether or not crypto assets will disrupt current payment systems, in addition to its increasing adoption as a store of value, it is also the basis for payments Facilities, processing and accounting have led to new thinking. Today, large corporations and other institutions need to consider the diversity of their portfolios.
Bank of America
Second only to JPMorgan Chase and the second largest commercial bank in the United States, Bank of America established a crypto research team in July 2021, believing that crypto assets are too big to ignore, and they are forming a growing ecosystem, from DeFi to NFT and more to GameFi. A growing number of major banks are becoming more open to the idea of incorporating crypto assets into their business models.
It is worth noting that Bank of America has mentioned in a research report that NFTs are one of the main drivers of the current crypto market: “Although there are many voices that NFTs are just another bubble, NFTs are already a huge ecosystem. The disruptive potential will spread to other industries and well beyond the current bull market.”
Singapore-based DBS, the largest bank in Southeast Asia, has become one of the first traditional banks in the region to launch a digital exchange. Currently, the bank’s crypto trading service is now live, offering four fiat currencies (SGD, USD, HKD, and JPY) and four crypto assets – Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Spot trading between Cash (BCH) and Ripple (XRP).
DBS will continue to expand its scale as it puts more crypto assets under custody in 2021.
Fidelity, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Standard Chartered Bank will also more or less intersect with the crypto world in 2021, so I won’t introduce them one by one here.
Top U.S. Banks Attract Crypto Talent
Research firm Revelio Labs analyzed 287 crypto-related job postings from Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Fidelity, and JPMorgan Chase on LinkedIn, and found that these four companies are the top employers of crypto talent. Furthermore, Revelio also concluded that the salary of crypto talent is, on average, 9% higher than that of bank clerks.
Additionally, LinkedIn reports that crypto and blockchain-related job listings have jumped 615 percent since August 2020.
Crypto is being embraced by traditional asset systems
Taking the listing of the crypto exchange Coinbase as a milestone, the traditional financial system is gradually accepting the integration of crypto finance. Influencer brokerage Robinhood is also targeting crypto trading as a new growth point for the company.
More traditional financial professionals are joining crypto firms, such as former SEC chairman Jay Clayton joining crypto custody firm Fireblocks as an advisor; former Goldman Sachs head of government affairs Faryar Shirzad joining Coinbase; former Bridgewater CFO John Dalby joining crypto investment firm NYDIG .
In addition to the influx of people, the crypto market is also gradually becoming institutionalized. A September data showed that institutional transactions already accounted for 63% of total crypto transactions, up from less than 10% in 2017. The impetus for traditional financial institutions to enter the crypto space is driven by customers. Itay Tuckerman, head of foreign exchange business at Citibank, said in an interview that in 2020, he rarely received orders from large customers wanting to trade crypto assets, but in 2021 , receiving several orders every week.
According to the survey, there are currently 8,785 Web3.0 companies, of which 60 have become unicorns. Based on historical data (which may not capture an accurate snapshot of a Web 3.0 company), as an entrepreneur starting a Web 3.0 company, you have a 0.7% chance of becoming a unicorn founder. These Web3.0 companies include: exchanges/brokers, crypto infrastructure, crypto financial services, data analytics, and NFTs/gaming.
Crypto meets sports
As one of today’s hottest NBA stars, Stephen Curry (Stephen Curry) has a huge number of fans around the world. On September 8, 2021, after buying the Boring Ape NFT with 55 Ethereum as his avatar on social media, he reached a cooperation with the encrypted exchange FTX and became the global ambassador and shareholder of FTX.
Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi has left FC Barcelona after more than 20 years for Paris Saint-Germain. In fact, in accepting the new contract of Paris Saint-Germain, Messi’s annual salary is 41 million US dollars, and part of the salary will be paid using PSG Fan Tokens (the official token of Paris Saint-Germain). The NFT distribution platform Ethernity Chain also cooperated with Messi to release the Messi-themed NFT series “The Messiverse”. The collection goes on sale on August 20. The 34-year-old Messi is depicted as a king, a superhero and a Greek giant in the series, titled “The Man from the Future,” “Worth the Weight,” and “The King,” which represent him career highlights.
Image: “The Messiverse” series NFT display
When it comes to FTX, it has always been generous in brand promotion and has repeatedly made big moves. Received naming rights to the NBA’s Miami Heat’s home arena in April 2021 on a 19-year, $135 million contract, one of the most expensive naming rights contracts ever. In June, FTX entered into a “long-term partnership” with Major League Baseball (MLB). MLB will embroider the FTX.US logo on the uniforms of all referees, and the referees will wear these uniforms and whistle all games. FTX has also reached a 10-year, $210 million exclusive naming rights partnership with esports club TSM (Team SoloMid). FTX has reached a 7-year partnership with the developers of League of Legends to get sponsorship exposure for the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS).
Image: Miami Heat Arena renamed FTX Arena
From this point of view, FTX is vigorously laying out the sports world, so that it has a very high exposure.
In addition, well-known crypto exchanges/payment service providers such as Coinbase, Cryptocom, Bitpay have sponsored and named the event. The sponsorship of crypto companies is also a huge lure for sports. Nowadays, many people generally do not have a good impression of encrypted assets, thinking that they are very speculative and fraud cases are flying all over the place. These encryption companies are also actively building their image, and sponsoring or naming sports is conducive to the building of their brand image.
Traditional companies turn to the crypto industry
Accept crypto payments
Throughout 2021, a plethora of celebrities, groups, organizations and companies have announced to accept payments in crypto assets.
Examples: Miami, Florida Mayor Francis Suarez, Tampa, Florida Mayor Jane Custer, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Jackson, Tennessee Mayor Scott Conger, Missouri Mayor Cool Valley Mayor Jason Stewart has pledged to use Bitcoin to accept salaries; NFL Los Angeles Rams’ Odell Beckham Jr., Kansas City’s Sean Culkin, legendary star Aaron Rogers has used Bitcoin to accept salary.
Image: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez speaking at <Bitcoin: 2021 Conference>
The most influential company is tram maker Tesla, which accepted bitcoin payments for a short period of time in 2021, followed by movie theater giant AMC, which officially accepted BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, and Doge in November 2021 as a payment method. The company is currently exploring adding SHIB to the payments bandwagon.
Paypal and Visa
In late 2020, global payments giant Paypal started letting users trade crypto assets like bitcoin and ethereum before expanding it to subsidiary Venmo and creating a “checkout with crypto” feature for merchants. In 2021, it also expanded to the UK market, announcing the launch of a crypto trading service for UK customers, where customers can trade major crypto assets including BTC, ETH, LTC and BCH.
Image: Paypal – UK-based crypto transaction service, via CNBC
Given that PayPal has 377 million users worldwide, this is a valuable addition to the crypto industry. The payments company has been making a big push into the crypto industry. Interestingly, its roots are diversifying in 2022.
PayPal has confirmed it will launch its own stablecoin, tentatively called PayPal Coin. Developer Steve Moser first discovered the internal development of the stablecoin in the source code of Paypal’s iPhone app.
Jose Fernandez da Ponte, senior vice president of crypto and digital currencies at PayPal, confirmed in an interview:
“We are exploring a stablecoin; if we seek to move forward, we will of course work closely with the relevant regulators.”
Another payment giant, Visa, is going in a different direction than Paypal. In order to connect with the crypto industry, Visa has developed a strong strategy to build a bridge between traditional business and crypto assets.
Visa has issued crypto credit cards on multiple continents around the world, making it easier to buy goods and services with Bitcoin and Ethereum. As part of its crypto credit card program, Visa has struck about 60 partnerships with crypto exchanges such as FTX, BlockFi, Coinbase, and Binance over the past year or so.
Image: Exclusive crypto credit card from Visa and Binance
In addition, Visa is also attracted to NFTs. In August 2021, Visa purchased CryptoPunk #7610 for approximately $150,000.In August 2021 alone, NFT transaction volume on OpenSea reached about $1 billion, but it has traded less than $100 million in all of 2020, according to Cuy Sheffield, Visa’s head of crypto. It can be seen that NFT is developing rapidly in various fields of culture and commerce, with great potential.
Square started out as a traditional payment processor, but the company’s business has increasingly turned to blockchain and bitcoin. In December 2021, Square, led by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, announced it was changing the company’s legal name to Block, and as the name suggests, blockchain was one of the reasons for the change.
Block currently covers multiple businesses, including its payment app Cash App, its crypto research arm, its Tidal music service, and its decentralized bitcoin exchange TBD.
It is worth mentioning that the company is also heavily invested in Bitcoin, owning more than 8,000 Bitcoins.
GameStop is an American retailer of video games, electronics and gaming merchandise. In early 2021, Reddit’s shares soared from $20 to over $400 after retail traders on Reddit co-engineered a bear confrontation, putting the world in the spotlight.
Since GameStop overhauled the executive team and board of directors, the company has turned a profit, and at its earnings call in late 2021, the CEO stated that it is vigorously exploring business opportunities involving blockchain and NFT technology. Currently, GameStop has hired more than 20 employees to focus on developing the NFT market, and plans to cooperate with other game developers to list various NFTs from game clothing to weapons on its platform.
Image: GameStop Building an NFT Platform
Phosus is an AI expert in graphic entertainment. Its AI-powered image enhancement tools are widely used. At present, the company has officially entered the crypto industry, focusing on NFT and blockchain games.
Samurai Doge, which has been followed on Twitter, is the company’s work. Samurai Doge has issued 5,000 unique 3D NFTs thanks to its technical superiority in images. Each NFT comes with beautiful backgrounds, beautifully crafted armors, cool weapons and flags; some even have cute accessories and decorations. These 3D NFTs could eventually be used in an augmented reality (AR) application. Second, users can also try to adapt metadata (that is, the characteristics of these NFTs), as long as they are compatible.
The company is making a “Play-to-Earn” game similar to Axie Infinity, which will have PvP, PvE, PvNFT and other modes, and the NFT will serve as a role that players control in it. According to the company’s email interview, this game does not require a rare 3D NFT, and players only need an ordinary 2D NFT to participate. The company’s ultimate goal is to gradually build a gaming ecosystem around Samurai Doge NFT, which is expected to gain a place in the NFT community.
In 2021 there are also many traditional companies partnering with crypto companies. For example, Turkish electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Togg announced a strategic partnership with Ava Labs to design and build smart contract-based services aimed at improving autonomous driving mobility.
Bitcoin Futures ETF Approved for Listing
Many hoped that 2021 would be the year of the Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), and in some ways it did. While the crypto industry has failed to successfully advance a spot Bitcoin ETF through the SEC in 2021, it has passed several ETFs based on futures products.
Back in August, at an event, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler commented on Bitcoin ETFs: Given these important protections under the Investment Company Act, the Federal Securities Act, etc. Applications for futures ETFs are reviewed, especially if those applications are limited to bitcoin futures traded on the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange).
From this moment on, the race begins and many companies start applying for futures-based Bitcoin ETFs.
ProShares’ Bitcoin futures ETF, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 18, saw more than $1 billion in volume on the day, the second-highest first-day volume of any ETF in history, far exceeding expectations. It was followed by Valkyrie and VanEck’s Bitcoin futures ETFs.
Image: ProShares Bitcoin Futures ETF is the second-highest first-day volume in history
However, 2021 ends with the rejection of VanEck and Kryptoin’s Bitcoin spot ETFs. While the year did not see the Bitcoin spot ETF many hoped for, it did create a huge amount of momentum for the conversation around Bitcoin ETFs in 2022.
We can use “product innovation” to accurately describe the beginning of the development of the crypto market, which has spawned some eye-catching applications such as DeFi, NFTs and blockchain games. At the same time, blockchain can also bring innovations to the wider industry, from tracking container shipping routes to improving the integrity of medical records. And the “mainstreaming” of blockchain applications and crypto assets marks the next phase of the technology.
What does mainstream really mean? To quote a word from the English dictionary Vocabulary, that is: “It describes the ‘normal’ in the eyes of most people in society. The mainstream is also the universal.”
On the road to mainstreaming the crypto industry, there is still an important challenge, and that is a credible, global regulatory framework. Once these challenges are overcome, the glorious era of the crypto industry will come.
Do you think the mass adoption of crypto will accelerate as we officially enter the new year?
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