The Future of Crypto in the Next 5 Years
The cryptocurrency market has experienced massive growth and sharp declines in the past two years. Total crypto market capitalization rose by 283% from $782 billion on 1 January, 2021 to $3 trillion on 10 November, 2021. Since that day, the market cap of the entire crypto market has plunged by 72% to around $815 billion on 9 December, 2022.
While the massive growth was attributed to a significant rise in institutional adoption of cryptocurrencies as a method of payment and an investment instrument, most of the decline has been attributed to waning interests by crypto enthusiasts, global macroeconomic instability, and the collapse of popular crypto projects.
In December 2017, when BTC reached a peak of $20,000 (resulting in a bear market through 2018 and 2019), many analysts predicted the end of Bitcoin and the entire decentralized finance market. Most market analysts affirmed their positions on the future of crypto in the next 5 years when the financial markets (centralized and decentralized) plummeted to all-time lows during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in March and April 2020.
Despite their forecasts, BTC and Ethereum (ETH) weathered the storm and exchanged hands for more than $60,000 and $4,000, respectively, in November 2021.
Five years on from BTCs peak in 2017, some analysts believe crypto could rise to the moon and recover. Others believe the crypto market could stabilize, while the naysayers think the next five years look like a bad period for the future of crypto, which could see it crash and burn. Skeptics should know that the era where demand and supply determined the price of cryptocurrencies is over. Whether crypto will boom or go bust in 2023 and beyond depends on regulation in the United States and abroad, the rise in the demand for crypto-tied exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and the mass adoption of cryptocurrency as a method of payment and an investment asset by individuals and mainstream companies.
Government regulation could brighten the future of crypto in the next 5 years
Despite the potential of decentralized lending platforms, which give users above-average minimum annual percentage yields (APYs) of 5%, billions of people have stayed away from many decentralized applications (Dapps).
Aside from the two most popular cryptocurrencies in the form of BTC and ETH, other digital assets like Shiba Inu (SHIB), Dogecoin (DOGE), and SafeMoon (SAFEMOON) have brought more than 10,000% gains to investors in a short period. Despite the quick earnings in less than one year, billions of potential investors have stayed away from investing in cryptocurrencies and using Dapps to earn a consistent passive income because they are unregulated by institutions they trust.
According to a June 2022 study by The Ascent, which is part of the Motley Fool, around 46.5 million Americans who have never engaged with any cryptocurrency said they are considering becoming crypto owners in 2023.
The same study said that more than half of Americans surveyed who have never owned cryptocurrency said they would consider purchasing the new asset class if they could store their coins and tokens in their primary bank.
More importantly, around 50% of Americans believe crypto should be regulated.
Many residents said they have heard about stablecoins, especially the United States Dollar Tether (USDT) and the United States Dollar Coin (USDC). Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies pegged to fiat currencies such as the USD, Euro (EUR), or Great Britain Pound (GBP).
Around 59% of people surveyed said they stored their digital assets on the cryptocurrency exchange from which they purchased. About 24% made it known that they have zoomed into self-custody and, as a result, store their coins in digital wallets. Some pointed out that they have opted for hardware wallets due to their traits of being offline and not in the reach of cybercriminals who spread malware to compromise wallets and make off with billions of dollars in stolen crypto.
Bitcoin was the most popular coin, followed by Ethereum, Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The FCA’s concern was that ownership had risen significantly from 1.9 million in 2020 to 2.3 million in 2021.
According to the FCA, many investors mistakenly believe that the cryptocurrencies they engage with have regulatory protection, which they don't. Due to a lack of regulation, about 43% of people surveyed said they were discouraged from buying crypto due to the consumer warnings on the FCA's website. Mistaken beliefs and a lack of understanding about an industry that continues to experience billions of dollars in losses are the reasons why crypto should be regulated.
The future of crypto in the next 5 years
Chris Oldfield, the co-founder of Fitburn, told Moni Talks: "Predicting the future of crypto in the next 5 years is hardly possible. However, we can look at it from different perspectives, investors, companies, and banks. From an investor's perspective, crypto is the only way to own an uncontrollable asset in many countries around the world.
This applies to both buying and selling. Investors still have the opportunity to get in early enough to position themselves well and earn high returns over time, contrary to previous asset levels.
"This also applies to day traders, who find a very young and strongly fluctuating market. Companies can quickly and easily digitize their business through the smart implementation of blockchain technology and build a fiat-independent trading business through cryptocurrencies with various partners worldwide."
Without regulation, millions continue to pour billions of dollars into the crypto industry. Regulations will give investors protection, which could motivate new investors to get involved with the new asset class and keep it alive.
"In general, I am very optimistic about the future of crypto, although we should keep an eye on regulations imposed by countries. Especially macroeconomically, crypto is volatile and can quickly be shaken by new laws and regulations. All in all, it will still take some time and some ups and downs until cryptocurrencies shape our everyday lives," Oldfield added.
Aside from government regulation, other industry-wide factors could influence the future of cryptocurrency in the next 5 years.
The impact of alternative blockchains is essential to the future of crypto in the next 5 years
The Proof-of-Work (PoW) blockchain had environmental concerns due to its high carbon emissions. Proof of the impact of PoW chains can be attributed to the use of the most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
Due to the power needed by BTC, it has been estimated that the first cryptocurrency creates more climate damage than global beef production.
Such environmental concern is why Tesla and Wikipedia broke their relationships with BTC after announcing the cryptocurrency as a payment method earlier.
Stakeholders of the crypto industry have not overlooked the adverse effects of PoW. This is why many developers have jumped into Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchains.
Ethereum has embraced PoS in its transition from PoW in September 2022 and other blockchains, such as Solana, Avalanche, TRON, Algorand, and Binance Smart Chain. Its introduction has made it easy for networks to process thousands of transactions every second while maintaining security.
PoS blockchains do not rely on application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) but instead rely on Central Processing Units (CPUs) and Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) powering desktops and laptops to validate transactions.
This has led to a substantial reduction in high energy consumption, with most PoS chains tagging themselves as zero-carbon technologies.
Many reports point to the fact that an improvement in transaction validation could be a primary factor in the future of crypto in the next 5 years. This is because decentralized finance applications and non-fungible tokens (NFT) can be used with their transactions processed without any security problems or network congestion.
"As a blockchain is a great tool for transactions traceability and transparency, and smart contracts play an important and reliable role in securing transactions in a very cost-efficient way, eliminating mediators, most likely that crypto will replace a huge part of the traditional fiat transactions.
"On the other hand, the crypto ecosystem is moving forward, developing amazing monitoring and tracing tools that enable the regulators and community to identify suspicious transactions, wallets, and projects. This will lead to purity and maturity to minimize scams, hence big adoption in various businesses," Mohammed AlKaff AlHashmi, co-founder and Chief Brand Officer (CBO) at Islamic Coin, told MoniTalks.
Broader institutional adoption could create a great path for crypto
The market capitalization of crypto reached a peak of $3 trillion because of institutional adoption. Three of the institutions that took the market to such heights were Tesla Inc., Grayscale, and MicroStrategy.
In February 2021, Tesla announced that it had purchased $1.5 billion in BTC. Bitcoin reached a then peak of $58,330.57 on the back of the purchase on 21 February, 2021.
As of September 2022, MicroStrategy’s total BTC holdings were 130,000, up 42% from March 2021’s total holdings of 91,064 BTC. Co-founder of MicroStrategy Michel Saylor has been a huge proponent of BTC since his firm began investing in BTC as far back as August 2020, when 21,454 BTC were purchased for $250 million.
Grayscale Investments is the largest digital asset management company in the world. The firm launched Grayscale Bitcoin Trust in September 2013 and followed this up with Grayscale Ethereum Trust in December 2017. Due to the success of BTC and ETH Trusts, Grayscale followed up with Trusts for Filecoin in March 2021, Solana in November 2021, Decentraland in February 2021, Chainlink in February 2021, Livepeer in March 2021, and Basic Attention Token in February 2021.
Despite the plunge in market prices, Grayscale remains unshaken and continues to maintain the Trusts.
A repeat of the investments made by these companies in the future could keep the crypto industry alive for many years. Aside from making direct investments in crypto, the adoption of crypto trading by mainstream companies can also bode well for the future of crypto.
On 1 November 2022, MoneyGram, a cross-border payment company, announced the launch of what it called a new crypto service that enables its customers to buy, hold, and sell cryptocurrency via its MoneyGram App. This saw MoneyGram join other financial services firms like PayPal Inc. and Skrill (from PaySafe Group, which also includes Neteller) in allowing their customers to buy, store, and sell cryptocurrencies on its platform.
MoneyGram is one of the biggest names in cross-border payments. If more companies join in offering crypto services to millions of their customers, this could positively impact the fortunes of crypto in the future.
Acceptance of ETF vital to the future of crypto
In centralized finance, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) comprises a basket of securities bought and sold via a stock exchange or a brokerage firm. Since BTC is the first and most popular cryptocurrency, ETFs backed by the cryptocurrency have been trending over the past few years.
Bitcoin ETFs are pools of BTC-related assets offered on trading exchanges by brokerages to be traded as ETFs. The purpose of BTC ETFs and other crypto-backed EFTs that will be joining the industry is to give retail investors and other investors who are not comfortable with investing in cryptocurrencies access to digital assets without actually owning them.
Some of the best Bitcoin ETFs as of December 2022 are ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO), Valkyrie Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BTF), VanEck Bitcoin Strategy ETF (XBTF), AdvisorShares Managed Bitcoin Strategy ETF (CRYP), Global X Blockchain & Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITS), and ProShares Short Bitcoin ETF (BITI).
Crypto investor and community support essential
Despite the need for regulation, the use of PoS blockchains, mainstream adoption by major corporations, and crypto-backed ETFs, the future of crypto in the next 5 years still depends on crypto investors and the crypto community.
Without the community, the crypto industry wouldn’t have survived into its 13th year. While many naysayers have predicted doom for the crypto sector, some industry experts remain optimistic about the future of crypto. One of them is Slava Demchuk, co-founder of AMLBot, founder of the AMLSafe app, and CEO of PureFi.
He told MoniTalks: "The cryptocurrency ecosystem is developing rapidly, with growing investor interest and increasing transparency of crypto issuers and intermediaries.
The convenience, speed, and security of cryptocurrency payments will continue to improve gradually. Due to the formation of a legal framework, comprehensive regulation, and oversight, cryptocurrencies will have a clear legal status, and market participants will have the right to legally conduct business and protect their interests. Most likely, all these developments will contribute to the spread of payments in cryptocurrencies, and their share in people's savings and investment portfolios will increase.
Exchanges will de facto turn into brokers and send information about their trading activities to the tax authorities at the place of the user's tax residency.
Cryptocurrency will get its own tax status and method of accounting and valuation. Higher transparency of the cryptosphere will lead to the situation when it will be almost impossible to use dirty crypto anywhere."
Despite the positives, crypto still faces an uncertain future and needs to tackle its cybercriminals' problems as well as find an answer to its emerging competitor in central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
The future of crypto in the next 5 years looks uncertain
While many believe crypto is the future of money, the emergence of national digital currencies could end this narrative.
China banned banks from interacting with cryptocurrencies in 2013 and followed this up with the banning of initial coin offerings (a way of raising funds to support crypto projects just like what is done in the stock market called initial public offering) in 2017. The country’s attention turned to crypto mining in 2019, and in May 2021, China banned crypto and mining.
As a major power of the 21st century, China took the lead by launching the digital Yuan (e-CNY) in 2021, and millions of Chinese are using the national digital currency.
According to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the e-CNY app had around 261 million users as of the end of 2021 and has been involved in more than 360 million transactions worth over $14 billion. The digital Yuan is available to residents in 23 cities across the country.
China’s lead in CBDC has been embraced by other countries such as The Bahamas and Sweden. The Dominican Republic announced in October 2022 that it had selected TRON as its national blockchain as it plans to issue its first official coin, Dominica Coin (DMC).
In November 2022, the Federal Reserve of the state of New York launched a digital dollar pilot program with nine financial institutions, which included Mastercard, Wells Fargo, and Citibank, to test the utility of a digital dollar using distributed ledger technology (DLT). Millions of Americans and billions worldwide are also concerned about crypto scams.
If cybercriminals continue to have their way due to a lack of regulation, crypto could crash and burn in the future.
Author: Raphael Minter
Raphael Minter/ Albert Zuhnden (preferred pen name) is a crypto finance writer, data miner, and fundamental analyst. Raphael has written hundreds of articles about centralized and decentralized financial instruments such as precious metals, commodities, stocks, and cryptocurrencies. He broke into digital finance in 2016 and believes digital assets and blockchain technology is the future of finance.