2021 has probably been one of the most dramatic years for cryptocurrencies, even considering the rise that we have witnessed in the market since the start of 2020. There was a sizeable dip in the value of most crypto tokens earlier this year following Tesla’s decision to stop accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, along with China’s crackdown on crypto miners. However, there has been a lot of encouraging news as well – the crypto exchange platform Coinbase saw a bumper listing, while El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept Bitcoin as legal tender. Thus, with over half of the year gone already, there are some interesting trends to keep an eye out for in the next few months which could shape the future of the crypto industry.
Many of the most enthusiastic crypto bulls see big things ahead for Ethereum created by the world’s youngest ex-billionaire Vitalik Buterin. Currently, the biggest digital coin after Bitcoin, Ether’s price currently stands at around $2,100. Some analysts forecast the price could rise as high as $5,000 within the next year. And some see the digital coin’s price reaching $20,000 by 2025. Some people go so far as to say that Ethereum will eventually supplant Bitcoin as the world’s most valuable and important cryptocurrency.
The enthusiasm for Ether is based on the fact that the digital coin’s algorithm is the main one used in both decentralized finance (DeFi). In other words, it’s a blockchain-based form of finance that does not rely on brokerages, exchanges or banks to offer traditional financial instruments, and non-fungible tokens, the digital art that has skyrocketed in popularity this year. Ethereum’s rally year to date has outpaced Bitcoin’s, with Ether rising more than 1,000% compared to Bitcoin’s 300% increase.
This is perhaps the biggest question facing the crypto industry, and will make or break its viability in the future. At the moment, Bitcoin relies upon an extremely wasteful ‘proof of work’ algorithm that currently consumes the equivalent of 15 Chernobyl nuclear power plants running around the clock. An increase in the price of bitcoin brings in more mining activity and thus more electricity consumption. This was the reason why Tesla stopped accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, since the crypto token is at odds with their operations as an electric car maker, and so there are already a number of conversations and discussions taking place on how blockchain, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be made more energy efficient.
Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
Decentralized finance (DeFi) projects are one of the biggest potential drivers of the crypto industry for the near future. They are already making headway in the financial services sector, with lending, borrowing and derivative products being structured through DeFi, and many more applications, such as peer to peer exchanges and asset management systems and protocols being developed through this innovation as well.
Central Bank Coins?
While central banks all over the world have generally shown a lot of resistance towards cryptocurrencies, they are also looking at this space with a lot of interest, as the research into potential central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) shows. Central banks in China, Hong Kong, the EU, UK, USA and many more are exploring this, with China being the most advanced, having rolled out its digital yuan for testing.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have been the biggest trend in the world of crypto in 2021. They have the potential to change the way content is sold and provided online, and every type of content creator, from artists to musicians to even sportsmen and sports organizations, has utilised NFTs already. The worlds of art and gaming are two of the more interesting areas where NFTs could be extremely successful – you could have digital art that is programmable and therefore changes based on the price or ownership of items, while gamers could use NFTs to purchase in-game items in a decentralized manner.