2022 Crypto Predictions
VeradiVerdict - Issue #177
First of all, Happy early New Year! Enjoy the time off with family and friends, we’ve all certainly earned it!
Every year, I make predictions about crypto for the next year and also recap how my predictions fared for the previous year.
Coindesk published the full article HERE but I’ve pasted an abbreviated version without last year’s predictions below:
2021 has been an extraordinary year for crypto. We saw DeFi swell to a $100+ billion industry, Bitcoin reach a price peak of $69,000, massive ecosystem growth for layer twos like Arbitrum and alternative chains like Solana, over $22 billion in sales for NFTs, and more mainstream and institutional interest than ever before.
Here are six of my top predictions for how the space will fare in 2022:
L2s and Rollups: Rollup scalability platforms built on Ethereum, such as Arbitrum and StarkEx, will continue to gather traction as an immediate and long-term solution for Ethereum’s increasing network congestion.
Non-Ethereum/-Bitcoin Chains: Dapp ecosystems in alternative smart contract blockchains, such as Solana and Binance Smart Chain, will continue to grow as bridges increase cross-chain access to liquidity and developer platforms make it easier to launch dapps on other chains.
Composability & Web3.0: Projects will find new, powerful ways to integrate with one another to create a unified user experience across the online ecosystem. Mechanisms for digital ownership and data management will also expand, allowing for the development of a more robust, high-utility digital identity.
Expansion of NFTs: NFTs will continue to soar in popularity as the digital art ecosystem grows. NFTs will also power several use cases in verticals besides pure images, including gaming, music, and creator/influencer fanbases.
DAOs: More DAOs will launch around unique, fascinating use cases as people increasingly buy into the concept of digital, collective action. Along with the growth of DAOs, we’ll see significant development in tooling for DAO management and operations as DAOs grow more complex in organization and function.
DeFi Security: On the heels of several large DeFi exploits in 2021, security will be a bigger priority than ever for DeFi protocols in 2022. Projects emphasizing runtime security and insurance against smart contract attacks will help secure dapps on various blockchains, increasing mainstream users’ confidence and trust in DeFi as a financial ecosystem.
2021: The Year of Crypto Fever
2021 may have been the most exciting, tumultuous year for crypto yet. We witnessed incredible growth and innovation, including Ethereum’s highly-anticipated London hardfork, the explosive expansion of the Solana ecosystem over the summer, and Bitcoin’s all-time high price of $69,000 in November. Simultaneously, we’ve seen crypto’s inefficiencies and vulnerabilities on full blast, from Ethereum’s ridiculous gas fees to the $600 million exploit of PolyNetwork’s smart contracts.
What is indisputable is that crypto has captured the public eye like never before. Each day, thousands of users are registering addresses on the blockchain, scouring NFT collections on OpenSea, and investing more capital into DeFi and web3.0. As 2022 begins, I look forward to seeing how this mainstream attention guides the direction and speed of crypto innovation––extending the boundaries of what crypto can accomplish and helping achieve its vision of a decentralized, user-first financial system.
Looking ahead to 2022:
Here are six areas where I expect to see significant innovation and growth in 2022.
L2s and Rollups: The biggest criticisms of Ethereum today are its ridiculously high latency and gas fees, which inhibit the computational capacity of dapps and discourage users who lack substantial capital. Layer two (L2) solutions have tackled this problem by executing transactions off-chain (reducing the amount of slow, expensive on-chain computation), and then posting batched transaction data (called a “rollup”) on-chain.
L2s have become incredibly popular in the last year. Arbitrum, an optimistic rollup solution that launched only in September, reached a peak TVL this year of $2.78 billion and has amassed over 50 dapps, including 1inch, Balancer, and Coinbase Wallet. Zero-knowledge rollups rose in TVL from $43.5 million to $1.9 billion, and are already being leveraged to scale transaction throughput for dapps like dYdX.
As mainstream adoption of crypto continues to grow, Ethereum’s network congestion will only become worse, exacerbating its problems with latency and fees. Rollups are critical to sustaining the growth of Ethereum by ensuring that compute infrastructure is highly scalable, allowing users to interact with dapps with similar or even better expectations around usability as with traditional web apps. Both optimistic and ZK rollups will gain even more traction in the coming year, with optimistic rollups likely to dominate in the short-term while ZK rollups, which are much more technically complex, advance as a long-term scalability solution.
Non-Ethereum/-Bitcoin Chains: At the start of the year, 97% of DeFi’s aggregate TVL belonged to Ethereum; today, Ethereum possesses only 63% of that TVL. Competing layer one blockchains have grown explosively over the past year, largely thanks to their considerable scalability advantages and differentiated use cases from Ethereum. In particular, Solana, which offers unparalleled transaction throughput, saw an incredible 2021, reaching a peak TVL of $15 billion and a peak price of nearly $260 in November. Recent activity in the Solana community, including the launches of massive funds for decentralized social media and gaming, suggest that the ecosystem will continue to grow immensely in the coming year.
Beyond specific blockchains, many technological developments from this year have set up 2022 to be a major year for the multi-chain universe. Bridges, such as NEAR’s Rainbow Bridge, will help accelerate the growth of non-Ethereum ecosystems by expanding access to liquidity and allowing easier composability of digital assets. EVM platforms, like Aurora on NEAR, are also making it easier than ever for Ethereum-based dapps to launch on other chains, enhancing cross-chain engagement within DeFi. Overall, these advancements in cross-chain infrastructure will accelerate the speed at which alternative layer one chains gain traction, fostering the development of a truly robust, diverse multi-chain crypto ecosystem.
Composability & Web3.0: “Web3.0” was arguably one of the biggest buzzwords of 2021. The scope of web3.0 is incredibly broad, and it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly it entails; generally, however, the term refers to technologies that prioritize user ownership of data and/or assets and interoperability between distinct applications.
2021 was a massive year for digital ownership. NFTs now constitute a $7 billion industry, and continue to grow as more and more artists and consumers of art seek forms of verifiable ownership within the digital sphere. Beyond NFTs, digital ownership has grown through initiatives towards decentralized crowdfunding (such as Kickstarter’s announcement to decentralize on Celo) and decentralized identity projects, which allow users to maintain full, more precise control over personal data and reputation, enabling use cases around uncollateralized loans, KYC, and more. In 2022, we’ll see more projects expand the scope of on-chain ownership, allowing users to have full, functional control over their identity and holdings in the digital world.
In terms of interoperability, bridges, as mentioned earlier, have enabled significantly more composability within DeFi, effectively allowing users to transact assets between chains and utilize DeFi protocols across different blockchains. Beyond just DeFi, projects like login.xyz, which offers a Sign-In with Ethereum service, show how the blockchain might enable composability between apps more generally, allowing users to maintain a single “login” across all services. Altogether, applications and services are seeking tighter integrations with one another, and I expect to see more projects tackle the fragmented nature of how we interact with the web.
Expansion of NFTs: NFTs were undoubtedly one of the hottest crypto trends of 2021. Digital asset marketplace OpenSea went from $1 billion to over $10 billion in trading volume in just three months, showcasing the viral wave of adoption that NFTs have kicked off. Other projects, like NBA Top Shot and Bored Ape Yacht Club, have given NFTs a remarkable platform in popular culture, so much so that NFTs were one of Google’s top search queries this year.
Looking ahead, it’s important to note that physical art represents a whopping $1.7 trillion asset class, meaning that NFTs are barely beginning to scratch the surface. As digital art continues to grow in popularity and physical art becomes increasingly tokenized, to facilitate better verifiability and more liquid markets, NFTs will continue to grow immensely in popularity through the coming year.
Beyond the classical use case of images, NFTs are making significant headway in other verticals, namely gaming and music. Games like Decentraland and Axie Infinity have demonstrated the value of offering in-game assets as tradable NFTs, allowing players to have full, versatile ownership of their assets and state within the game. In music, projects like Audius and Royal are building mechanisms to help fans directly support projects by their favorite artists, and to share in their artists’ success through royalties. NFT projects in 2022 will show substantially more diversity in use cases and will reconfigure how we interact with and think about ownership of digital media more broadly.
DAOs: DAOs were also one of the hottest crypto trends of 2021, garnering mass attention with the promise of being a vehicle for equitable, decentralized collective action. We’ve seen DAOs launch around a shared digital cultural identity (e.g. FWB and pleasrDAO), around crowdfunding and capital allocation (e.g. BitDAO and ConstitutionDAO), and even around social impact causes as well (e.g. the KlimaDAO tackling climate change). Given their heightened prominence, I expect to see DAOs become a mainstream vehicle for online organizing and collective action, helping individuals across the globe get actionably involved with causes they care about.
Beyond the rising number of DAOs, the crypto space has also begun to recognize (and tackle!) several gaps within DAO tooling, operations, and onboarding. Platforms like Syndicate, which simplify the process for establishing DAOs for collaborative investing, and Station, which helps onboard users onto DAOs, are making it easier than ever for folks to get functional DAOs up and running in record time. As DAO operations grow in complexity, I expect to see even more projects building out DAO tooling and infrastructure in 2022.
DeFi Security: 2021 has arguably cast more doubt into the security of DeFi than any year yet. More than $610 million were stolen through DeFi exploits in 2021 (a staggering 8-fold increase from $77 million in 2020), and an additional $704 million in funds were stolen and then later returned by white hat hackers, like those behind the $600 million PolyNetwork exploit. These incidents are an inevitable, but unfortunate consequence of the growing prominence of DeFi; still, they highlight several major vulnerabilities in the technical infrastructure powering DeFi, which may ultimately limit DeFi’s potential to capture more financial use cases.
To maintain DeFi’s pace of adoption, it’s absolutely critical that we develop even more protocols and tooling to ensure that users are interacting with safe financial products in crypto. Projects like Forta, which enables dapps to monitor runtime security, and Nexus Mutual, which offers dapp users insurance against smart contract exploits, have already made significant headway in securing the crypto financial ecosystem. Still, there remain a great many vulnerabilities in the smart contracts powering DeFi, the majority of which we still don’t know. In 2022, I expect to see security become a tremendous focus for DeFi projects, and expect to see several more projects launch around better smart contract auditing, precise runtime monitoring, and consumer protections.
In sum, 2021 saw massive growth and an incredible number of innovations in the crypto sphere, ranging from blockchain infrastructure, to DeFi, to NFTs, and more. Crypto has definitively asserted itself as one of the most powerful technologies of our time, offering unparalleled privacy, trustlessness, composability, and decentralization, while the traditional web remains highly exploitative, monopolistic, and fragmented.
The public eye has never been as fixated on crypto as it is today, and crypto’s growing mainstream adoption is likely to shape and accelerate the speed of innovation in the coming year. With this newfound attention, I’m incredibly excited to see how crypto captures more of the mainstream financial and digital sphere and becomes an even more robust, secure platform for powering how we interact with the web in 2022.
- Paul Veradittakit
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Hi, I’m Paul Veradittakit, a Partner at Pantera Capital, one of the oldest and largest institutional investors focused on investing in blockchain companies and cryptocurrencies. I’ve been in the industry since 2014, and the firm invests in equity, early stage token projects, and liquid cryptocurrencies on exchanges. I focus on early-stage investments and share my thoughts on what’s going on in the industry in this weekly newsletter.