Crypto markets are breaking established patterns, with the bitcoin price dropping below the high from its previous halving cycle, something that has not happened before. This is occurring against a less-than-friendly macro backdrop, and negative sentiment has ramped up to extreme levels. Within crypto, emotions are running high, but it’s useful to step back and view the scene from an external perspective.
After all, if crypto is to thrive then it will require mainstream adoption from users and investors who don’t follow every blockchain blow-up. What’s more, over the last couple of years, crypto has achieved a position of greater visibility, and, despite current tribulations, established itself as a sector that is sticking around.
All that in mind, how do cryptos and the broader blockchain space look now to the casual observer?
Markets rise and fall, but bitcoin has survived everything thrown at it so far. Its reputation among crypto-natives is as being battle-hardened and reliable, but it’s unrealistic to expect that the non-crypto world views it that way yet. However, perceptions are changing, and will continue to do so the longer that bitcoin is present.
With old price models going out the window, current prices can dip further during the ongoing crypto crash, but increasing numbers of people should recognize an opportune buy zone. On top of that, bitcoin’s HODL culture is strong, and there is now a chance for retail to pick up the cheap coins puked by over-leveraged forced sellers.
The view of Ethereum, for many, can be summed up in two words: gas fees. When new users first look at transacting on Ethereum, there can be a sense of disbelief that people are actually paying these amounts, in dollar terms, and a layer of friction is created.
Perhaps enough people will become immersed in the Ethereum network that gas fees cease to be a shock, but more likely is that until the issue is fixed, Ethereum adoption will suffer drag. That said, there is so much developer activity on Ethereum that despite the fees, the number-two blockchain exercises a unique pull.
The big story coming up for Ethereum is the Merge, when the network transitions to proof-of-stake. This will not in itself cause gas fees to become lower, but it is a step on the path in that direction. Any effects the Merge will have on Ethereum’s price are unclear, but a sell-the-news type event is plausible.
Cardano and Solana
The majority of blockchains outside of Bitcoin and Ethereum are often regarded primarily as volatile speculative vehicles, and at times when crypto implodes, interest in them, and belief that they might actually build out valuable products, will decline.
Exceptions can be found in Cardano and Solana. Cardano is frequently left out in the cold by crypto analysts, but it is plausible that this ostracization can now work in its favor. When there is a market crash of this magnitude, flawed platforms are exposed and major players may be revealed as having acted in negligent or unethical ways.
At such a moment, Cardano stands apart and is not tarnished by association. What’s more, an often repeated criticism of Cardano, that development moves too slowly, becomes a chief asset. Rather than moving fast and breaking things, Cardano progresses methodically and remains intact.
Of a very different character, and ostensibly a rival, there is Solana. Flashy and fast-moving, it is criticized for being overly centralized and repeatedly breaking down, but there is no denying that it garners attention. Developer activity is high, a colorful NFT scene has evolved, and when it works, Solana is speedy and cheap. Its merits and drawbacks are debatable, but Solana has gained interest and users.
Currently, most internet users are unlikely to consider the differences between operating in a web2 or web3 environment. The definitions of these categories are not common knowledge, and when it comes down to it, the most important factor is the end product.
As Steve Jobs once said, “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to try to sell it”.
At present, web3 is not cleaving to this philosophy (as evidenced by the friction and fees associated with transacting through MetaMask on Ethereum), but it certainly can, and if it does, public perceptions will change.
The question that web3 must demonstrate an answer to, is what exactly does it offer to users, in real terms?
The least explicitly financial section of the crypto space, NFTs have created a spectacle over the past year, eliciting, at times, disbelief and contempt, but also curiosity and FOMO. In short, NFTs, for better or worse, have demonstrated a capacity to grab the spotlight in ways that the rest of crypto cannot.
Absolute rejections of NFTs as nothing more than a fad are misguided, conflating individual collections and trends in the NFT space (which certainly are faddish) with the underlying NFT technology itself.
In NFTs we see a wide range of use case possibilities, taking in not only art and collectibles, but gaming (a huge industry) and the development of metaverse-like experiences and products.
Additionally, let’s not be dismissive of the casino-like gambling aspect of the NFT space, which is likely to resurface with crypto’s next bull run. After all, casinos are a lot of fun, and when combined with art, design and, yes, cartoon monkeys, can pull in valuable attention.
A problem with public perceptions of the metaverse is that not everyone is quite sure what it really means or will become, even among its proponents. The label has a science fiction nuance, which is not surprising, since it was coined in a science fiction novel, Snow Crash, that can create a dystopian Matrix-like image of humans being siloed off into VR pods.
It may be that there is currently little public interest in the metaverse, but that it will come to be of great importance and change our relationship with the internet. Essentially, this developer space is wide open and could go in an infinite number of directions, and smart investors will be looking into which projects are building through the bear market.
While DeFi is an area of tremendous potential, it hasn’t captured mainstream attention. Gaining familiarity with DeFi requires a considerable time investment, along with willingness to take on risks. This may be attractive to some during a bull market, but takes on a different hue during a bearish period or an outright crash.
There may be confusion, too, about what decentralization actually looks like. The Celsius platform, for example, which is now facing the possibility of insolvency, cannot be considered fully decentralized, but it’s questionable how many of its users took note of the differences between DeFi and CeFi.
DeFi remains a fringe sector, and, ironically, considering that an advantage of DeFi should be transparency, comes across as opaque through being complicated and unintuitive. However, on the positive side, the crypto crash occurring now should, given time, wash away dysfunctional components and leave behind a more streamlined trustworthy sector.
This article was written by Sam White at www.financemagnates.com.