By Roni Rose and Jack Stern
This past December, nearly $600 billion flooded into the crypto market. Crypto veterans and rookies alike flocked home for the holidays, boasting about their earnings to convince their family members that they should drop a meagre $100 into the market… Though it’s a tale as old as bitcoin time — obviously they got hooked and began investing loads more.
Bitcoin dominated the news headlines, institutional money was flooding in, thousands of coin review and price prediction videos were shared on youtube every week, GPUs were flying off the shelves, and the crypto mania was in full force.
In the midst of all our excitement and energy, we couldn’t spot what was hiding in the bushes — a big scary bear market, waiting to attack.
At the beginning of the new year, everything got rather quiet.
This is not the mass adoption that all investors are eagerly waiting for.
As we stand, we are witnessing the birth of a new means of exchange and a new asset class. Legal regulators are scrambling to get ahead of the scams and fraud that have run rampant in what is aptly described as wild west of crypto.
Bitcoin was proposed as a new currency that could liberate the financially oppressed and bank the unbanked — but now, it seems to have become a get rich quick scheme in which wales easily prosper, and your average investors lose it all.
Mass adoption cannot simply be defined by your parents and neighbours buying bitcoin on Coinbase. In order for this technology to have value, it must be used. It must actually better the lives of people, as originally intended.
Mass adoption must be defined by the amount of people using cryptocurrency — not just hoarding it. Most estimates place the amount of users with cryptocurrency wallets at under 1% of the world population. Of those, it seems that few are actually using these digital currencies as a form of payment.
Further, mass adoption cannot be determined by the amount of money in the entire crypto market because there is no way of discerning if there are millions of users, or a select amount of users with millions in the pot.
Liquidity for many is still a large barrier, exchanges are under heavy scrutiny, and there aren’t many retailers or stores that accept cryptocurrencies. Even if merchants begin to accept them, will the people participate? Or continue to hoard these assets instead? True mass adoption may take a while, and the growing pains are certainly linked to the crazy volatility we’re seeing.
In any case, crypto will have an interesting year. As regulators root out the frauds and weasel out the scams, the stronger and more mainstream use cases will emerge. At the same time, encrypted currencies have huge benefits to security and liquidity but the regulatory barriers will soon be rising high. The path will be challenging and may take years, but mass adoption is coming.