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Cointelegraph Consulting: crypto events of 2021 in retrospect.
With 2021 coming to a close, it might go down as the year that brought the most mainstream attention to cryptocurrencies.
The year 2021 is coming to a close, and if there’s one way to describe how the cryptocurrency industry fared in the past 12 months, it would be momentous growth.
Major cryptocurrencies shattered previous records, adoption grew, new sectors sprouted and novel blockchain use cases made significant breakthroughs.
The Market Insight’s latest edition recalls the events covered in past issues as well as deep-dive topics in Cointelegraph Research’s industry reports.
DeFi and Altcoins.
Two of the top gainers of 2021 were Solana (SOL) and Terra (LUNA). SOL gained 9,500%, while LUNA gained 13,000%. Significant investments and ecosystem growth catalyzed the immense gains for the two tokens. One could also argue that the two being billed as potential “Ethereum killers” had a part in contributing to their massive rallies.
In the decentralized finance (DeFi) scene, the two tokens sit among the top five in total value locked (TVL). Solana is at No. 5 with $11.45 billion, and LUNA has recently surpassed Binance Coin (BNB) for the No. 2 spot with $18.9 billion, according to Defi Llama. Moreover, the emerging ecosystems of Solana and Terra deserve a deeper look, which is why they are the subject of Cointelegraph Research’s upcoming reports.
DeFi followed a similar growth trajectory as the broader crypto market in 2021.
Competition has undoubtedly increased for Ethereum. Its TVL share was 97% in January but is currently down to 62.54%, per Defi Llama. The next phase of development for the sector comes into question in 2022, especially since the growth of DeFi this year has been so substantial that authorities have switched from denying the industry to grappling with ways to deal with it.
The DeFi market capitalization remains a small fraction of the overall cryptocurrency market cap, but it underwent the same growth trajectory. Some believe that integration with legacy banking could be one of the main focuses for DeFi in 2022.
Nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, found their breakout year in 2021 despite existing since 2014. The bulk of sales came in the past 12 months, surpassing $14 billion in December. Digital art collections and digital collectibles dominate 91% of these sales volumes, which is one of the key data revealed in this report.
The sales in the first half of the year were driven primarily by individual artists joining the space with their respective collections and some high-profile sales, while the second half brought in more mainstream brands.
For instance, Coca-Cola auctioned a wearable bubble jacket skin in Decentraland, and Visa purchased its first NFT. Such participation from these brands enabled the NFT market to come into full bloom. The report also revealed that the most profitable NFT collection in 2021 was “CryptoPunks.” A “CryptoPunk” NFT offers a better all-time average return on investment compared to NFTs on other popular collections, such as “CryptoKitties” and “Bored Ape Yacht Club.”
NFTs have also disrupted the gaming industry and become key to fully realizing the concept of metaverses through their blockchain properties. However, some critics doubt that the parabolic surge in 2021 will play out in 2022, especially with more regulatory scrutiny.
Nonetheless, this year’s amount of venture capital investments funneled into NFT companies is beyond sizable. NFT funding in 2021 is already at $2.1 billion as of Q3, yet nearly 40% of VC deal activities involve only a single firm in Andreessen Horowitz, according to PitchBook. Therefore, as sales and interest for NFTs continue to grow, it may be difficult for firms with a thirst for high growth potential to resist NFTs.
2021 has been progressive in the cryptocurrency regulatory front. The 117th United States Congress has introduced 35 bills that focus on cryptocurrency regulation, blockchain policy and central bank digital currencies. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell expressed his views that cryptocurrency is not a significant threat to the U.S. financial market’s stability. However, a likely discussion that could seep into next year is the regulation on stablecoins.