These days, it’s never been easier to get involved in crypto. All you need to do is download a crypto wallet such as Zumo and off you go. Plus, there are many beginners’ guides out there to help you understand how to start buying cryptocurrencies and keep up to date with the latest developments and trends. But it's not always been this simple.
It was back in 2008 when the world was introduced to the first crypto: Bitcoin. Since this time, well over 1,000 other cryptocurrencies have launched and there are now some 300 exchanges that trade only crypto, requiring nothing more than a mobile phone.
Back in 2008, the truth is that Bitcoin was seen as all a little odd. The majority of people had no idea what it was all about and many saw it as high risk or even a scam, if they knew about it at all. Just over a decade later, attitudes have seen a massive shift.
Today, you can find crypto being referred to everywhere. In fact, there’s a decent chance you actually own some yourself right now. So what happened over the last decade to bring crypto into the mainstream? Let’s take a look.
For something to enter the mainstream, there needs to be a degree of popularity. That is certainly the case with crypto, with its alternative narratives, its tech-driven optimism and its headline-grabbing returns (and losses). Bitcoin itself has been on a roller-coaster of epic proportions, surging from a first recorded value of a mere $0.03 to reach an astonishing $69,000 only last year - before of course undergoing a sharp price correction in the current economic climate.
But the increase in the adoption of crypto and increase in trading venues could not have happened without big brands, companies and celebrities endorsing and investing in it.
Crypto and popular culture
Wherever you look, you’ll find references to crypto. It was once the case that you’d only find crypto coverage in specialist magazines and websites, or even in news-related pieces in the mainstream press. However, crypto has now made its way into popular culture and the popular imagination. Whether it’s sports, film, or music, crypto is there.
Netflix has run a whole host of series that relate to crypto. Some of these are documentaries while others are pure works of fiction that show crypto is something exciting to be a part of. Crypto was even featured in an episode of The Simpsons in 2020. Titled 'Frinkcoin', a character named Professor Frink develops a cryptocurrency and overtakes Mr. Burn's title of richest man in Springfield! Bitcoin was also shown to be priced at infinity in a later episode.
Then there is sports. Whoever would have thought that the likes of Coinbase would be sponsoring the NBA or that FIFA would be launching non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for the 2022 World Cup?
Some celebrities have even endorsed crypto, to mixed response. Gwyneth Paltrow ran a $500,000 bitcoin giveaway on Twitter, Paris Hilton has held events in the metaverse and boxer Mike Tyson created his own NFT collection in 2021.
You can read more about other known brands that are involved in crypto here.
Embraced by existing providers
Something that boosts confidence in crypto is the fact that well-known financial institutions, and other companies, are now embracing it too. Visa is already connecting blockchain technology to its payment solutions and the likes of PayPal are doing this too.
BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, is dipping its toes into crypto. In August of this year it announced the launch of a spot bitcoin private trust. This move could be massive for bitcoin, legitimising it in the eyes of more traditional investors.
Finally, popular stock trading app, Robinhood, began to offer crypto trading in 2018. Revolut, a company that offers banking services, also launched their cryptocurrency feature. Since then, we've seen more fintech companies merge traditional banking and stock trading with crypto.
Zumo itself has a convertible debit card that makes pounds & crypto work together.
An acceptance by authorities
Perhaps the final hurdle to becoming mainstream is to do away with the shady, murky side of the perception of cryptocurrency. This can be achieved by authorities recognising, and supporting it. And it is gradually happening around the world.
The UK government already has plans in place to become a global hub for crypto asset technology that aims to integrate crypto into UK enterprise and industry. And representatives of Liz Truss’s government have just recently reaffirmed the UK government’s commitment to crypto. Making the UK a global hub will make it the ideal place to create, innovate and build in the crypto space. This could lead to attracting investments, creating new jobs and developing groundbreaking new products and services.
In June, the European Union also agreed on proposed rules to regulate cryptocurrencies.The regulations, known as Markets in Crypto Assets, or MiCA, will ensure financial stability and consumer protection, while supporting innovation.
Over in America, President Joe Biden has signed an executive order to examine the risks and benefits of cryptocurrencies. Moves such as this, which are being replicated around the world, have really cemented crypto’s place as being part of the mainstream narrative.
It all goes to show that crypto is no longer a niche technology and is a growing part of people's finances and aspirations.
Crypto, mounting evidence suggests, is here to stay.