2020 has been a tough and challenging year that we’ll long remember. Besides the pandemic, a series of major events shook the global economy. A lot happened in the healthcare, finance, banking industries and the crypto and blockchain spheres were no exception. However, anyone who has at least a little understanding of these industries will agree that the market is hotter now than ever before. And if you’ve missed the latest news, don’t worry. We are here with the main crypto highlights of 2020, for you to be ready to catch the wave in 2021.
1. Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
As we all know, DeFi, short for decentralized finance, is the ecosystem of blockchain-based, peer-to-peer networks enabling financial services without centralized middlemen, banks for instance. This new system is a result of the advancement and change in customers’ needs. People want faster and more convenient ways of controlling their finances. You don’t like queuing in a bank or wasting hours on a single deal, right? The DeFi is here to help you out. It enables crypto owners to use traditional services such as borrowing, lending, trading, getting insurance, or investing in a more transparent, rapid and comfortable way. What you need is only an internet connection and a crypto wallet.
There is no doubt that 2020 was the year of DeFi for crypto space. At the beginning of the year, the total value locked (TVL) into the decentralized finance market was approximately $680 million. TVL measures the amount of funds locked in lending smart contracts across all the DeFi projects. At the time of writing, it’s worth more than $16 billion. So it has grown by almost 2300% in 2020. Can you name another industry with a growth rate even close to this?
The DeFi space looks very promising. But as it continues to grow, new challenges emerge towards keeping users’ funds safe. As there is no central authority to be in charge, traditional regulatory approaches don’t work here. As a result, most of the $100 million worth of hacks and thefts from the DeFi platforms in 2020 went unpunished. Several initiatives address this issue to protect the users and mitigate the risks. It seems that unified self-regulated security standards are on the verge. Let’s keep an eye on how things evolve here.
2. Bitcoin Price Breaking Records: All-time-high
You sure know that in 2020 Bitcoin has surpassed all-time highs. As of December 2020, it’s topping $24,000. But many are interested in the cause of this terrific increase. In fact, experts mention various reasons and events that influenced the Bitcoin price in 2020.
We live in times of monetary revolution. And such a disastrous event as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of the revolution this year. The pandemic caused the largest economic damage that the world has experienced in decades.
But while coronavirus had catastrophic effects on economic development, that seems not to be the case for the crypto industry. Moreover, it turned out to be even helpful for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The reason is that the pandemic quickened our advance into a more digital world. And even those who had never tried an online transaction before had no choice but to go for it. Banks were closed, people had to stay at home and the only option was to use online transactions. But this also increased the exposure to financial surveillance and financial fraud. So what options did the people, used to paying with cash have, to protect their privacy? The obvious one is trying the ultimate electronic cash-Bitcoin. So, what might have taken years, has been achieved in months.
But the more palpable explanation could be the unprecedented quantitative easing of almost 3 trillion USD, run by the Federal Reserve. The financial experts received the news as a signal of the upcoming devaluation of the US dollar. So it made sense to move the assets to a safe haven, as is often the case during crises. Historically, gold was the leading haven for money. But this time Bitcoin got a great portion of attention as well. Why? Read the next passage.
Around the same time, the 3rd Bitcoin halving in history took place on May 11, 2020. This event happens once every 210,000 blocks or around 4 years. And from that moment on the block reward is cut in half. This time the reward decreased from 12,5 to 6,25 BTC, so now only 900 Bitcoins are being mined every day. If you wonder what’s the big deal, bear with me. Counting for the current circulation of Bitcoins, this makes its inflation rate less than 1.74%, and it’s getting lower. Meanwhile, the inflation rate for gold is more than 2%. So Bitcoin became more scarce than gold after the halving. And naturally, scarce commodities and assets have a higher value when in demand. So it’s a no brainer why so many switched to Bitcoin this time.
And adding to the overall action, in October this year, PayPal announced that it would let its users and merchants buy, send, and receive Bitcoin. After this announcement, the Bitcoin price increased by nearly half. This means that more than 300 million users can have the opportunity to pay for various goods and services via crypto on the platform. It’s a huge move towards the mass adoption of crypto. And of course, people expect higher demand for Bitcoin, so the prices react correspondingly.
3. Ethereum 2.0 Release
Ethereum 2.0 is finally here. Its launch was confirmed just 9 hours before the announced release date of Dec 1. Ethereum 2.0 is the major infrastructure update of the Ethereum blockchain that will improve the network’s speed, scalability, security, and efficiency. The upgrade will be in 3 phases, with the first one expected by the end of 2020.
Most importantly, it will shift from PoW consensus mechanism to PoS, the main advantages of which are its high speed and energy-efficiency. From the scalability side, the network promises 100,000 transactions per second instead of 30. And sharding plays a leading part here.
Phase 0 started with the implementation of the Beacon chain. We will see the integration of stake shard chains in Phase 1 which is due in 2021. In the interim Phase 1,5, the mainnet will fully become a shard and switch to PoS. Finally, in phase 2, which will launch in 2021–2022, the shards will fully-function with smart contracts.
Pretty promising, right? We are excited to see how the upgrade goes and what it will bring in the upcoming years.
4. Libra (Renamed Diem) Launch in January 2021
Yes, you have read it right! Libra will finally go live but now under the name Diem. In mid-2019, Facebook wanted to launch its global cryptocurrency called Libra but didn’t succeed because of the regulatory issues with the financial authorities. In November, the Libra Association (co-founded by Facebook) announced that the project will eventually go live in Jan 2021 but as a stablecoin backed by USD.
A week after the announcement, the association changed its name and the digital currency’s name to Diem, which stands for “day” in Latin. The shift is most probably done to turn a page on Libra’s PR. Diem is designed for only the US and some parts of Latin America. The project will also include the digital wallet Novi (previously called Calibra), from which users can get the stablecoins and operate, for example, on WhatsApp and Messenger. Nevertheless, the project is still waiting for approval from FINMA. Upon the launch, the users will be able to send each other crypto payments as easily as sending messages.
To wrap it up
Many extraordinary events took place in the crypto world in 2020, and many more are to come in 2021. New promising projects launched, DeFi is thriving, the cryptos are booming. Isn’t that enough to convince you that the decentralized future of finance, banking, and money, in general, is an exciting place to be?
Success is for the firstcomers. So whether you are coming from traditional industries or you are just a crypto or tech enthusiast, who is doubting whether to take a step or not, this is the right time! And if you don’t know where to start or where to go, Nooor is here to help you out. Follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter to get monthly updates and exclusive offers.
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