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There is hardly anyone left who has traversed the online environment and has not heard of cryptocurrencies. This industry is now gaining a significant foothold in almost every major sector of the global economy — from the gaming industry that is increasingly looking at the introduction of blockchain technologies for augmented and virtual reality, to the financial one, which is racing to adopt DeFi technologies for expediting payments.
The numbers are speaking for themselves as a report by Globanewswire predicts that the cryptocurrency industry is set to grow to a staggering $5.19 trillion by 2026 at a compound CAGR of over 30% per year. Many are even saying that the industry can hit the 5 trillion mark three years earlier by 2023, if the price of Bitcoin continues to grow.
The growth is being fueled largely by the influx of new users onto the cryptocurrency market, which is surging after the record-breaking rise in Bitcoin’s price at the end of 2020. BusinessInsider reports that there are over 106 million users of cryptocurrencies worldwide and their number spiked by 16% in December of 2020 alone, marking an increase not seen since the crypto hype of 2017.
But there are other factors on the broader scale of things that are leading the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies.
It has long been postulated that not a single technology can survive to market fielding stages and profit-making unless it proves its value and usefulness to the mass segment. Unlike military technologies that have government funding secured, largely regardless of their viability, effectiveness and competitiveness, civilian technologies are forced to compete with stigma arising from proven technologies catering to the needs of the population.
Blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies are fighting against powerful competitors on their main market of application in the financial industry, where banking institutions are unwilling to give way to newcomers, while refusing to acknowledge the archaic natures of their own infrastructures. However, there are a number of factors playing into the hands of crypto mass adoption and digital assets that are proving their viability and usefulness to the mass segment of users.
Socio-economic factors are the leading cause of growing crypto adoption as the pandemic has forced a vast segment of the global industry online, where digital assets and payment systems dominate. As populations of countries around the world were faced with losses of jobs, the cryptocurrency industry has stepped in a viable alternative to jobs, providing users with the ability to earn passive income through trading or investing. The low entry thresholds on the market have allowed numerous small-scale investors to start experimenting with cryptocurrencies for earning. At the same time, cryptocurrencies have proven to be assets resilient to sanctions, allowing citizens of countries under sanctions regimes to re-enter global markets with their funds.
Inflation is another major driver of crypto adoption, as fiat currencies are being devalued in light of the global economic crisis. In contrast, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are growing in price, thus becoming considerably better stores of value than fiat and bank deposits.
The technological adoption of blockchain by giants like PayPal, Visa, MasterCard and many global banks is pushing adoption from the clandestine crypto-enthusiast sector to mainstream markets. As payment aggregators and gateways embrace blockchain, so too will the companies that resort to their services.
Finally, the development of new types of digital assets is another significant factor in their adoption and application on new markets.
Recently, popular queries in search engines relate to such questions as “what does NFT mean?”, or “what does NFT stand for?”. In fact, the question of “what is NFT?” can be answered very simply – one of the newest types of digital assets is the Non-Fungible Token (NFT), which has seen skyrocketing popularity in the last few months.
At their core, NFTs are digital assets of the ERC-721 and ERC-1155 standard released largely on the Ethereum network that are not interchangeable and unique. NFTs can also be issued on the Stellar network as Stellar tokens, or Stellar assets, with Metamask acting as the best wallet for non-fungible tokens. No NFT can be replicated or changed, meaning that their properties remain immutable and guarantee the uniqueness of the asset attached to them. As such NFTs are being tethered to real-world assets that have characteristics making them unique and thus ensuring the incontestability of their holders’ rights to them.
NFT crypto assets have enormous potential as their ability of ensuring the unique nature of attached assets makes them invaluable in a variety of areas. Their potential is being proven by the numbers, as February 2021 has seen $340 million in traded NFTs with the Nyan cat meme NFT alone being sold for $592,000 and dozens of other NFTs being traded on Christie’s for as much as $3.5 million.
NFT assets can be applied to anything from unique in-game items in the gaming industry to works of art or even airplane tickets. Industries with intellectual property rights or rights to unique holders are the main targets of NFT technology. Apart from the gaming industry, arts, document management and even the jewelry industry, governments can also make use of NFTs by assigning such assets to voting ballots to ensure the impossibility of fraud and the attendance of unique voters.
Any asset that requires its uniqueness and the rights of its holder guaranteed can be tokenized by NFTs. Artists are among the first in line for tokenizing their works, as DJ 3LAU tokenized one of his albums and made $11.6 on selling the related tokens. Virtually anything can be tokenized by NFTs, even shoes, as the X Evolutions sneaker NFTs were sold for $13,000, guaranteeing their holder a unique pair and rights to it in the real world.