This coming year might see many changes in the financial world, especially in money itself. It’s difficult to predict how things might play out, although there have been predictions in the MSM that Bitcoin and crypto generally will crash and burn, but that seems unlikely for those of us that are more immersed in cryptocurrencies than MSM journalists and their readers.
One scenario revolves around central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Will they be more influential this year as governments look to control digital currencies? Or will the stablecoins, such as Tether, issued by private companies rule the roost? Then there are the decentralised currencies, such as Bitcoin. Will they become the dominant force in finance?
Various factors are driving the debate around money. For example, China is rolling out its Digital Currency Electronic Payments (DCEP) project during the Winter Olympics in February. And the USA is developing regulations targeted at private issuers of stablecoins, whilst adoption of decentralized cryptocurrencies for payments continues to grow around the world.
The Regulations debate
In 2021, the US government debated crypto tax provisions in the infrastructure bill and the approval of a futures-based Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF.) This year it is likely that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will find ways to clarify its position on whether tokens are unregistered securities. At the same time, DeFi tokens may find themselves being included in this debate, which would be unwelcome.
The future of Ethereum
Although Ethereum still dominates DeFi, will its high gas fees for NFTs and other transactions become too expensive? It depends on the success of Ethereum 2.0. There are many big moves to be made before the full 2.0 project can be deemed a success. It has to merge its mainnet with the Beacon chain and that could disrupt token economics for miners and validators. And there are challenging upgrades within Eth 2.0, including sharding. The future of the dominant smart contracts platform depends on these going well.
Crypto and the climate
As climate change continues, crypto needs to shift the conversation away from how bad it is for the environment and towards one about mining-integrated energy systems that create incentives not only for miners to use renewable energy.
Finally, there will be many discussions about Web 3. Jack Dorsey has been leading at least one discussion about its future, in which people will have greater control over their data and content. So far Web 3 is not really well defined, but there is a need to adjust our systems for managing digital property and for establishing users’ rights in this new era. We can expect this year to bring more clarity on Web 3 might be like and to get a better idea of the projects that will form part of it.