As a cryptocurrency thought leader and advisor to cryptocurrency and fintech startups, I am asked a lot of questions around, well, crypto. I’ve noticed that a lot of these questions often have their origins in fear and ignorance – and for good reason, it is a very misunderstood innovation.
Cryptocurrency hasn’t had its finest moment yet. And unfortunately, a sizable portion of the buzz about cryptocurrency has been of scepticism, resistance and sensationalism – and understandably so. History has also shown that we as a human race tend to resist new technologies. If you look back at the Internet and the WWW in the early days, the criticism was fairly similar. Unfortunately for crypto, what was designed to be an extremely innovative, decentralised and resilient digital equivalent of currency was often limited to a speculative financial instrument. But not any more.
The pandemic has magnified some of the value propositions of cryptocurrency and decentralised finance. In the past year, we’ve seen multi-million dollar NFT sales, wide scale innovation with blockchain. In fact, a new report discovered that the number of people using cryptocurrencies globally has more than doubled since January, reaching 221 million last June.
The recent acceleration of the digitalisation of economies and our lives means that from now on there will be a growing demand for financial solutions that are digital, global and borderless, and cryptocurrency ticks all the three boxes.
Beyond ignorance and fear, a larger cryptocurrency movement is happening. Cryptocurrency, and the blockchain that underpins it, is evolving as a powerful, decentralised and very real alternative to legacy systems. Those who decide to dive into the cryptocurrency revolution will likely succeed due to the sheer first mover advantage.
Benefits of cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency is time and location-agnostic. Trading takes place 24×7 in the cryptocurrencies marketplace – even on Sundays and holidays, transaction costs are low or even nil, and there are no boundaries on purchases and withdrawals.
Another benefit is it acts as an intangible asset. One can achieve financial freedom through cryptocurrencies as there is no involvement of any third party such as a bank. Apart from relying on cryptocurrencies for everyday payments, they can also be used to generate wealth. Also, some studies show that women are experiencing more financial freedom using cryptocurrencies. They have started to learn, and invest in bitcoin and blockchain more. A Grayscale study shows that 15 percent of bitcoin investors are women.
Can India be an early mover?
When the dotcom boom happened, India was not as well placed with digital infrastructure and talent as compared to Silicon Valley, to fully seize the opportunity and become a global player. That has changed now. From where I see it, cryptocurrency currently presents a very level-playing field for innovators and entrepreneurs.
India is also better poised in terms of its tech talent pool, a robust startup ecosystem and better digital infrastructure. First movers will have an unprecedented advantage in the space, and India has the chance of leveraging this opportunity and becoming a frontrunner among the global cryptocurrency elite.
Cryptocurrency as a platform is fairly new and its use cases are also constantly expanding. One of the reasons Bitcoin was created was to provide a fairer system that addressed the challenges of the current gaps. Building from this, crypto-innovations have the power to solve population-scale problems like the unbanked, inflation tokenisation, remittance, inflation, investing and trading. There are tonnes of opportunities for cryptocurrency on the ground. These include cryptocurrency in gaming, managing records, decentralised storage, decentralised governance, managing finance, social on the blockchain, trust with content and many more.
Cryptocurrency and the metaverse
When news became public that Mark Zuckerberg told Facebook employees that they would be working “to help bring the metaverse to life” at the end of June, searches for the term ‘metaverse’ spiked. It’s quite possible that the metaverse is ‘the next big thing of the digital age. As a virtual shared space created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality, augmented reality and the internet, it has the potential to change everyday life as we know it. The metaverse isn’t necessarily a future concept, though. We are already in the metaverse when we spend time on smart devices.
Within the metaverse will be demands to deliver permissionless identity, financial services and high-speed exchange. Data would need to be stored and served to millions if not billions of people; and cryptocurrency has the answer to these challenges. And even if the metaverse fails to reach the epic scale as envisioned, it could fundamentally change the way we interact with the digital world.
Playbook for a crypto founder
Starting up in the cryptocurrency space calls for being fearless in the face of volatility. Aspiring cryptocurrency founders must understand that volatility is natural and typically characterises a new market. It is key to understand that it is characteristic of the market and not the technology. Founders should have the desire to solve problems at population scale and be inventive and relentless in their pursuit. It’s important that they are also users of cryptocurrency and active participants in the landscape. This includes being advocates, brand ambassadors, thought leaders and mentors. Collaboration is key to winning at scale – not just for your own startup, but also for the ecosystem at large. As the adage goes, none of us is as strong as all of us.
For aspiring crypto entrepreneurs grappling with regulatory uncertainty, do understand that regulations always follow innovation. If you believe this is the future, don’t wait on the sidelines. Yes, regulations are bound to follow, and sometimes it will be too harsh but eventually it will mould itself to promote innovation.
If you are a tech entrepreneur, do participate in hackathons, explore more ideas around problems you want to solve. Reach out to folks like me to brainstorm and get clarity on your pursuit.
From engineers to journalists, the crypto has created jobs that are rooted in a variety of skill sets. Now is the time to invest your talents within the cryptocurrency job market. Cryptocurrency opens up job opportunities with a variety of skills, and can be the start of a unique career.
I urge entrepreneurs, techies or even content writers to explore the world of cryptocurrency, there is an immense opportunity for you to take part and build the future.