The first decentralized cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was created in 2009 by the mysterious developer Satoshi Nakamoto. Over the past decade, a host of other digital currencies have become available. These are collectively known as ‘altcoins’ and, by some estimates, number over 5,000 unique tokens each with their own proposed use cases.
After 12 years, crypto has finally gone mainstream with institutional money and support aggressively flowing in, helping bring legitimacy and wider adoption across retail investors. Despite the industry being largely nascent in a macro lens, the total crypto market cap now sits over $2 trillion, making it a force to be reckoned with.
What Changed And Are Cryptocurrencies Now ‘Mainstream’?
In October 2020, PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) added Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin cash to its platform (in the US). Earlier this year, carmaker Tesla revealed that it had bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin, and in March, Elon Musk tweeted that you can now buy a Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) with Bitcoin.
Even JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), notorious for being critical of crypto, recently changed tune, and along with other big players such as Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), have begun to offer cryptocurrency investments and funds to clients. The world’s largest asset manager Blackrock has also announced it has ‘started to dabble’ in cryptocurrency.
There are still several hurdles and regulatory issues to overcome before the industry can claim to be fully mainstream, but progress is being made. Bitcoin, for example, is now a $1 trillion asset and worth more than Facebook (NASDAQ:FB).
There are numerous explanations why there has been a surge of interest in digital currencies. Adoption is one. Another is the speculative nature of the industry which has attracted many traditional equities traders. Another reason is that it is getting easier for the average investor or customer to obtain digital currencies thanks to improvements within cryptocurrency exchanges and on-ramp/off-ramps.
The Rise Of User-Friendly Cryptocurrency Platforms
In previous years, the complexity of buying digital currency previously deterred many who were looking to get involved. For the average investor, buying and exchanging cryptocurrency is now getting more accessible thanks to numerous online platforms that facilitate the process. These, too, have gained acceptability with one such exchange, Coinbase, going public in April 2021.
There have been a multitude of similar exchanges and platforms that have been around for a while now. Generally speaking, they have been trying to facilitate the process of buying crypto. Some go even further with a specific eye on customers new to the scene and a focus on security, which can be an issue for the unwary.
For example, Bit2Me is a well-known European-based platform that has been around since 2014. Like many platforms, they are international and allow for multiple currencies to be traded, but they have expanded to make their offerings appeal to an increasingly broad audience. Many of whom are inexperienced.
The Co-founder and CEO of Bit2Me Leif Ferreira thinks this knowledge gap can be dangerous and always stresses the importance of security and its role on more established platforms.
“A decade ago, until fairly recently, a lot of those involved in cryptocurrencies were those with a lot of specialized knowledge, such as programmers and those involved in fintech,” he said.
“However, in the last couple of years, there has been a massive surge of newcomers, thanks to constant stories in the media. They are interested in digital currencies, but their eagerness can often outstrip their knowledge, and they are unaware of the basics such as security or how it all works. That is where platforms such Bit2Me step in –we are trying to bridge that gap and make buying crypto easy for everyone.”
They do this by simplifying their UX and designing it specifically for new users. This is combined with walkthrough solutions throughout the platform. “We also have an Academy, an e-learning platform that gathers knowledge from both verified bibliography and trusted mentors in the industry, producing videos, articles and step-by-step guides,” Ferreira added. The academy helps newcomers, but not exclusively. There are also training sessions for micro, small and large businesses, and more in-depth knowledge for those who want to continue learning.
The new influx of enthusiasts often do not consider security or understand the concept of digital wallets. Some platforms, like Coinmama, require users to have their own digital wallet separate from the exchange. Others, such as the aforementioned Bit2Me, actually started with a wallet.
“The Bit2Me wallet is our first and core product. It consists of a Fiat on/off ramp giving our users instant access to buy, sell, trade and swap cryptocurrencies,” Ferreira explains. “Having the wallet in-house allows for more of a focus on security. We have a complex scheme involving hot/cold wallets and custody solutions to maintain top-notch security on our assets under management.”
With governments and entities around the world such as China, the UK, and the EU talking about launching their own digital currencies, the idea of bitcoin and altcoins going mainstream is not far off. For those wanting to get involved, it is advisable to go for a platform that is well established and helps newcomers learn.
The massive rise in the popularity of cryptocurrencies and the recent adoption by large institutions means buying a crypto token has never been easier. That is a trend that is likely to continue.
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