"DeFi"ying All Odds: The Rise of Cryptocurrencies
Updated: Dec 16, 2021
The feat of digital currency first saw the light of the day with the creation of Digicash in 1989, but like any ahead-of-its-time innovation, its days were numbered. A lack of popular support and proper funding were amongst the few grounds that led to its bankruptcy in the 1990s, with almost all its counterparts facing a similar fate. Further efforts to create a notable digital currency proved futile until the advent of Bitcoin in 2009; and as fate would have it, this decentralized cryptocurrency was here to stay and flourish.
The year is 2008, and in a bid to disrupt the centralized financial and monetary system that led to the financial crisis, Satoshi Nakamoto (assumed to be a pseudonym) published the concept of Bitcoin through a white paper, with the sole purpose of removing any third-party intermediaries that are traditionally required to conduct financial transactions. A couple of months later, in January 2009, the first Bitcoin transaction took place when Satoshi Nakamoto sent Hal Finney 10 Bitcoins, thereby heralding a decentralization revolution in the financial world.
Innovation and competition soon followed suit with Litecoin being launched in 2011, and 2012 witnessing the genesis of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase as a platform to carry out Bitcoin transactions. Much to the delight of crypto enthusiasts, the launch of more digital currencies in the form of Dogecoin and Tether provided further crypto investment opportunities.
The biggest milestone in the early days of the cryptocurrency world was established when Microsoft began accepting cryptocurrencies as a mode of payment for games, apps, and other digital content. Further game-changers were incorporated in this developing stream of a diverse network, with the launch of Ethereum in 2015, which extended the concept of decentralization from payments to other financial products (also known as decentralized finance or DeFi) by introducing smart contracts-powered decentralized Apps.
The following years marked some of the more significant events in the DeFi world - from Revolut merging mobile banking with crypto trading in 2017, to Square's Cash App initiating Bitcoin transactions in 2018. It wasn’t long before MicroStrategy, presently the biggest corporate investor in cryptocurrency, jumped the bandwagon of crypto delight in 2020 when it made its first investment in Bitcoins worth $250 million. Soon after, PayPal initiated Bitcoin transactions, and Square was making headlines again for making its first Bitcoin investment.
2021 has proven to be a lively year for the DeFi sphere, with Tesla and Goldman Sachs supporting the trend with their respective investments of $1.5B in Bitcoin and Coinmetrics. The month of February saw the revolutionary move by JPMorgan Chase, with its pioneering creation of the JPM Coin. Other notable brands also began offering their own unique crypto offerings – such as Morgan Stanley enabling their wealth management clients to access Bitcoin funds, and Visa’s global crypto advisory service.
Since the inception of Bitcoin, the crypto world has made substantial progress and is presently valued at around $2.3 trillion. The level of disruption has been such that not only tycoons and conglomerates are turning their heads around, but even governments have been forced to pay close heed to the proceedings. With various regulators taking different approaches towards crypto adoption, the future remains open to an assortment of possibilities. Irrespective of the outcomes, cryptocurrencies have certainly established themselves as an entity that has the capability to influence economies and governments across the world for all time to come.
As we end 2021, let’s raise a toast to the milestones that cryptocurrencies and DeFi have managed to achieve in the last decade. Fingers crossed for 2022 🤞.