Bitcoin BTC and ethereum, the two largest cryptocurrencies by a considerable margin, boast hundreds of millions of users around the world after a huge price explosion in recent years.
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The bitcoin price soared to almost $70,000 per bitcoin late last year, up from under $10,000 two years ago, while the ethereum price has seen a similar rise. Both are down by around 40% from their all-time highs, however.
Now, Brian Armstrong, the chief executive of major bitcoin and crypto exchange Coinbase, has predicted there will be a massive influx of crypto users in the coming decade—forecasting 1 billion people will have used crypto by 2032.
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Coinbase chief executive Brian Armstrong is one of the most influential voices in the world of … [+] bitcoin, ethereum and crypto.AFP via Getty Images
“My guess is that in 10-20 years, we’ll see a substantial portion of GDP happening in the crypto economy,” said Armstrong, speaking at the Milken Institute Global Conference this week in comments first reported by Bloomberg. Coinbase, based in San Francisco, currently has almost 90 million verified users across 100 countries.
The “crypto economy” has grown rapidly over the last few years as businesses and services spring up around bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.
Decentralized finance (DeFi)—the idea that crypto technology can replace lenders and insurers—and blockchain-based digital collectibles known as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have both become multi-billion dollar markets in just a couple of years.
Some of the world’s largest technology companies, including Facebook’s parent Meta and Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla TSLA , have begun adopting crypto. Meta, under chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, is looking to expand into the so-called metaverse digital world where NFTs are expected to play a significant role. Tesla has added bitcoin to its corporate balance sheet and has begun experimenting with crypto payments.
Financial giants on Wall Street have also slowly started to roll out crypto services to clients. Speaking alongside Armstrong, Ark Investment Management’s chief executive, Cathie Wood, one of the biggest backers of web3—a name for the crypto and blockchain-based next-generation of the internet that some think could succeed the current Silicon Valley-centric model—warned financial companies not to fall behind.
“In the case of DeFi and next-generation internet, we are seeing a lot of financial companies losing talent to crypto,” Wood said, according to Bloomberg. “So they have to take it seriously, or else they are going to be hollowed out.”
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The bitcoin price has rocketed higher in recent years, adding many thousands of percent and helping … [+] the ethereum price to surge.Coinbase
Meanwhile, the crypto industry is feeling upbeat about the evolving regulatory landscape following a Biden administration executive order directing federal agencies to collaborate on a rule book for blockchain businesses.
“It’s been harder and harder to meet a true crypto skeptic in D.C.,” Armstrong added, speculating that around half of people in Washington are now pro-crypto. Crypto industry lobbying has exploded along with the bitcoin price over the last couple of years, research has found.
The price of bitcoin, ethereum and other major cryptocurrencies have rallied this week, climbing on the back of a closely-telegraphed Federal Reserve interest rate hike that some had feared could be more hawkish than anticipated and following several positive global bitcoin and crypto developments.
“An increasing number of countries are legalizing bitcoin as a currency, embracing its ability to strengthen financial infrastructure, facilitate wealth creation, and afford direct access to financial resources,” Matt Senter, chief technology officer at bitcoin rewards app Lolli, said in emailed comments.
“With the devaluation of the U.S. dollar due to inflation, we are now finding ourselves in the perfect storm catalyzing global mainstream adoption of bitcoin as an anti-inflationary, disintermediated alternative to our legacy financial system in crisis.”