World News: The Uncertain Future of Cryptocurrency

Never in our era has there been development in the monetary world as debated as cryptocurrency. Whether it’s gonna become the future of commerce and substitute our tried and trusted bills and coins, or if we should even give it a place in the stock market with its high volatility has captured the public square with the same fervor as if you would be better off with paper currency over coinage from many generations ago. And yet, as its value rose up, so too did its popularity. With the unprecedented success of Bitcoin, which spiked to stock values that had never been thought possible at $63,674.65 on April 12, after having been under seven thousand last year, what’s gonna happen next in the story of crypto is just as unpredictable as its prices. The popularity of Bitcoin has also let newer, smaller currencies burst onto the scene. Examples include the ironically named Dogecoin, something you may recognize from the Reddit-organized trading surge from late February, has recently spiked from being down at under a third of a cent during November of 2020, broke 47 cents for the first time on April 16. One could never have predicted the popularity of this movement, with billionaire Elon Musk stoking the fire claiming he’s gonna put a “literal dogecoin on the literal moon.”

Run by seemingly heat of the moment trends by prolific buyers, significant doubts have been raised about crypto around its extreme volatility and inability to be regulated, fears worsened by when Bitcoin dropped 80 percent and demonstrating the phenomena of a cryptocurrency bubble. Many believe it would be in our best interests to desert this luck-based system before it becomes a mainstream commodity. A growing view, however, believing you should not be restricted by government regulations on currency, have advocated for what is essentially a never-before tried system wherein cryptocurrency is allowed to supplant physical government currency. It is gonna be a difficult sell to most governments simply on this basis given its flaws, however what factors could make it so broadly supported are fairly easy to see. With the cryptocurrency market now exploding past $2 trillion, you can’t help but want to be among the many buyers who found wealth with little investment. With the rallying cry “to the moon” of crypto supporters across the globe, one can’t claim this massive, intersectional movement as never being able to achieve the radical change it seeks in the grand scheme of things. If cryptocurrency really is gonna expand even further into our economy, there already exist immediate paths to do so. It is yet impossible to say which avenues this rising industry will go down first, but cryptocurrency startups across the world can say goodbye to the crushing stigma, experimentalism and financial hardship characterizing their market as Coinbase, never failing to impress, became the first publicly traded crypto startup on April 14. To whatever extent, crypto is gonna expand into the economy for perhaps years to come.

Tell-tale signs of cryptocurrency’s popularity exist across society as its benefactors and supporters aim to claim a spot as a legitimate currency, though with many economists still highly fearing its extreme volatility, it would be a lie to say any developed nation is close to making that jump. Some leaders, however, have shown more optimism and found experimental ways to promote cryptocurrency through their institutions. This is particularly true among hurt economies looking for a reset, most notably in the case of Venezuela, in deep need of an economic recovery. You may be familiar with Venezuela’s hyperinflation crisis, hitting a whopping rate of 1,700,000% in 2018. The Bolivar, the Venezuelan currency, has become virtually unusable following mass printing, heavy deficit spending and a series of failed recovery plans from President Nicolás Maduro. With the Bolivar becoming even more uncontrollable than cryptocurrency, the threat of a crypto bubble was deemed minimal compared to the challenges Venezuela already faces, with its ability to bypass economic sanctions and its relative ease of use deemed more necessary than the seemingly perpetually inflating Bolivar. By mid-2020, approximately 15% of Venezuelan fuel payments at gas stations were made with Petro, Venezuela’s state-backed cryptocurrency.  Similar projects are being attempted in more experimental settings in other countries as well, such as the creation of LBCOIN in Lithuania, and much more recently the announcement from the People’s Bank of China in January that they are conducting trials with their own blockchain cryptocurrency technology called DCEP. If successful and broadly used in China, it could potentially become a lightning rod for blockchain technology and popularize the usage of cryptocurrency in some of the many nations with whom the exporting giant trades.