Happy New Year Readers,

I must begin by saying 2021 was another banner year for the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency industry. Yet, there were (5) events that were of keen interest to this opinion columnist. These stories help show the mass adoption and maturity of the industry as we move into 2022, and further adopt blockchain and cryptocurrencies into the mainstream. 

#5 THE METAVERSE – Over the past year the hottest new-world reality has been the Metaverse. The Metaverse in simple layman’s terms, is a combination of digital elements of technology, including virtual reality, augmented reality and video where users “live” within a digital universe.

Supporters of the metaverse envision its users working, playing, acquiring and living in digital real estate, and staying connected with friends through everything from concerts and conferences to virtual trips throughout the world. And the officially currency in the Metaverse is cryptocurrency, mainly through ERC20 and ERC7211 NFT’s. 

#4 RISE OF THE BITCOINATM– In just (4) short years, BitcoinATMs have gone from a means of just purchasing Bitcoin with physical cash, to a full fiat on-ramp and off-ramp that allow users to buy and sell popular cryptocurrencies using cash. A total bank-less economic system, located in coffee shops, gas stations, smoke shops, and shopping malls.

The big operators in the game are Coinflip, Coin Cloud, Bitcoin Depot and Coin Me (which are located inside Coinstar change machines). For full disclosure, I’m a location consultant with Coinflip. I’m responsible for placing machines in locations throughout New Mexico and West Texas. 

There are over 33,000 active machines in the United States alone. As the crypto industry matures there’s a good chance that BitcoinATM’s will be on every corner, offering users a convenient way to buy and sell crypto using cash. 

#3 DEFI – THE FINANCIAL DISRUPTER – DeFi short for decentralized finance are a collection of financial decentralized applications that are run on a public blockchain. These DeFi apps are used for investing, lending, borrowing and trading without a bank or other third-party intermediary. 

The whole idea behind DeFi is to allow anyone, with any amount of money to invest, lend, borrow or trade digital assets, without government regulations and requirements. Day-by-Day, the DeFi industry is replacing traditional financial institutions by allowing anyone to gain real financial value. Prosperity for All, not just Prosperity for a Few.  

#2 LEGAL TENDER IN EL SALVADOR – I have to admit, it was a real struggle choosing between this event and my #1 event. Immediately after the largest Bitcoin conference in history, the small nation of El Salvador made blockchain and cryptocurrency history by making Bitcoin legal tender. 

This was my first opinion piece I wrote for the Herald, and as I said, “It was the shot heard around the world”. After (12) years of existence, one country was brave enough to actually attempt to run its finances with the Bitcoin Standard. This means all businesses in El Salvador must accept Bitcoin as a form of payment, alongside the US dollar.

So far, the results have been mixed. While there have been some real positives such as a new state-of-the-art Veterinary hospital, Bitcoin City SV, Bitcoin Bonds and Geo-thermal Bitcoin mining, the governments-imposed Bitcoin adoption is clashing with community efforts on the ground. Forcing businesses to accept Bitcoin, and consumers to use it, is total antithetical to Bitcoin. Bitcoin is for everyone and is agnostic to political concerns.

But it appears once the citizens can be educated and trained, and human rights concern can be addressed this historical event can benefit all in El Salvador’s new monetary system.

#1 ALL ABOUT NFT’s – 2021 more than any previous time has been the year of NFT’s (Non-Fungible Tokens). NFT’s are blockchain based tokens that prove ownership and provenance of unique digital assets such as images, video and physical assets as well. 

During this last year NFT’s have shot to prominence with multimillion-dollar sales of NFT artwork, and NFT Avatars. Two of the most popular NFT’s are Bored Ape Yacht Club and Cryptopunks. Along with the purchasing the digital NFT, winning buyers receive exclusive benefits and perks, only given to the owners of the NFT.

Even major big-box brands, celebrities and athletes have all jumped on the NFT bandwagon. Without a doubt NFT’s are the hottest ticket in the entire blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, and well deserving of the #1 spot. 

Author: Majeed A. Kariem, CBP

C4-Certified Bitcoin Professional |  President, Blockchain Merchants Assoc.



For more info on the Blockchain Merchants, click here; for previous columns, click here.


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