- 2021 has been a wild year for crypto; its value surged to $2.3 trillion from under $800 billion.
- Experts expect to see growing crypto adoption and decoupling between bitcoin and altcoins in 2022.
- Insider compiled their price predictions, altcoin recommendations, and key trends on their radars.
By all indications, 2021 has been a wild year for cryptocurrencies, which have seen their total market value surge to $2.3 trillion from just under $800 billion at the start of the year.
Fueled by growing institutional adoption, bitcoin reached a new all-time high of nearly $69,000 as companies including MicroStrategy, Tesla, and Block (formerly Square) added the digital currency to their balance sheets. El Salvador became the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal currency, alongside the US dollar, drawing interests from other nations to pursue the same path.
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Celebrities, star athletes, and even the mayors of Miami and New York opted to take some, if not all, of their salary in bitcoin.
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But 2021 hasn’t been just about bitcoin. Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency, also soared to a new all-time high of almost $4,900 driven by explosive growth in decentralized finance, non-fungible tokens, and metaverse-related activities on the network.
For the industry, this has been a year of record-breaking milestones. In March, an NFT artwork by digital artist Beeple sold for over $69 million. In April, Coinbase became the first US-based crypto exchange to publicly list on the Nasdaq exchange. In May, the crypto market whipsawed after Tesla CEO Elon Musk stopped accepting bitcoin as a payment method, citing the massive amount of energy spent in bitcoin mining. Along the way, meme coins including Musk’s favorite dogecoin and rival shiba inu coin exploded in popularity.
Over the summer, layer-one protocols such as solana, avalanche, and algorand jumped into the fray of competing to be the fastest, lowest-cost, and most scalable platform for developers. Metaverse-linked Decentraland and the sandbox achieved widespread recognition overnight after Facebook decided to rebrand as “Meta.” Enthralled by the bonanza of opportunities in crypto land, venture capital investors poured a record $30 billion into blockchain companies that are eager to usher in the so-called Web 3.0 era.
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Of course, with greater visibility comes greater responsibilities. The crypto industry still has plenty of serious issues to address in the year ahead. In 2021, scammers pilfered $7.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency from victims, up 81% from the year before, according to Chainalysis. Meanwhile, controversies around whether some US dollar-pegged stablecoins are fully backed by their dollar reserves have landed the industry in hot water with US regulators.
While talks of an impending crypto winter have surfaced recently, analysts, investors, and industry executives are expecting to see the continued mainstreaming of crypto in 2022 as stadiums get renamed after crypto companies and NFTs continue to mesh with pop culture.
Insider spoke to nine of them and compiled their predictions below.
James Faris, Kari McMahon, and George Glover contributed to this story.