Some of the world's biggest celebrities embraced cryptocurrencies for the first time, a country made Bitcoin legal tender, and a 12-year-old made life-changing sums of money.
When the markets are a sea of red, it's easy to lose sight of how far the crypto industry has come in 2021.
January saw the total market cap of all cryptocurrencies exceed $1 trillion for the very first time. It had doubled to $2 trillion by April, and came deliciously close to hitting $3 trillion in November.
With adoption on the rise, and digital assets now being taken more seriously, here are 10 good news stories worth celebrating.
After Bitcoin accelerated from $29,000 to $69,000 — with Ether rocketing from $750 to $4,800 — crypto investors were rightly feeling very generous.
Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home received one of the largest-ever cryptocurrency donations in Scottish history
— a whopping 26 ETH
. The funds are going to ensure that the charity's pet food bank service can run through 2022, giving essentials to owners in need.
In an interview with the CoinMarketRecap podcast,
the non-profit organization said crypto had opened up new ways of raising funds during the coronavirus pandemic — at a time when normal events had to be canceled.
Crypto Giving Tuesday also broke records this year.
A whopping $2.4 million
was donated to a plethora of charities — a 583% increase compared with last year.
Non-fungible tokens have come a long way since CryptoKitties burst onto the scene in 2017. This year, we saw everyone from Disney to WWE announce plans to launch NFT collections — with fast food chains including Burger King and McDonald's getting in on the action.
But one of the coolest news stories this year relates to Benyamin Ahmed, a 12-year-old boy in London who made $400,000
by selling his own NFT collection.
Weird Whales features 3,350 pixelated designs of animals in an array of designs, each with their own distinctive traits.
A couple got married on the blockchain this year,
in what has to be one of the coolest applications of this technology that we saw in 2021.
Rebecca Rose and Peter Kacherginsky digitized their rings as a token of their love, with the groom writing an Ethereum smart contract for their marriage that issued digital artwork to their cryptocurrency wallets.
Each of the two unique tokens features an animation by Carl Johan Hasselrot, which illustrates two distinctive objects becoming one… like in a normal marriage.
A crypto trading hamster hit the headlines earlier this year — not least because his portfolio was outperforming the S&P 500 and Warren Buffett.
Mr Goxx would run in a decision wheel to select his favorite cryptocurrency, and then go through one of two tunnels: one for buy, one for sell.
His business hours were livestreamed on Twitch — and over the course of his career, the hamster secured returns of 19.72%.
Sadly, Mr Goxx died in November.
There was also good news for the customers of Mt. Gox, the crypto exchange that spectacularly collapsed in 2014 after 850,000 BTC was stolen in an audacious hack.
About 150,000 BTC
was later recovered — and a rehabilitation plan has been approved
that will reunite victims with some of their lost funds. Although they'll only receive a fraction of the BTC they had invested, the cryptocurrency's value has surged substantially since then.
There are fears that the release of this stash could lead to downward pressure on prices if victims choose to sell.
In a sign that cryptocurrencies are really beginning to cut through, some of the world's biggest payments companies embraced digital assets like never before in 2021.
PayPal — which started allowing U.S. customers to buy, sell and hold four cryptocurrencies in 2020 — said demand had "greatly exceeded expectations,"
and began allowing millions of merchants
to accept BTC, ETH, BCH and LTC as a payment method. The company also rolled out
its crypto offering to customers in the United Kingdom.
Mastercard has also been busy. Not only has it acquired the blockchain intelligence firm CipherTrace,
but it has teamed up with Gemini — the exchange founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss — to launch a credit card
that offers instant rewards paid in Bitcoin and other digital assets. A partnership was also forged with Bakkt.
It's also been a blockbuster year for celebrities embracing crypto. Mila Kunis launched an NFT collection
to fund an exclusive TV show starring Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, Mariah Carey endorsed an exchange, Tom Brady gave a whole Bitcoin to a fan,
and countless NFL stars started receiving their salary in BTC. Snoop Dogg claimed he was Cozomo de' Medici,
a pseudonymous NFT collector on Twitter, and Gene Simmons even revealed he's a budding crypto investor.
The mania surrounding cryptocurrencies was especially good news for Dogecoin — a digital asset created in 2013 to mock Bitcoin.
With a little help from Elon Musk,
DOGE surged from $0.0047
in the space of five months — up by a whopping 15,431%
. The memecoin became one of the world's 10 biggest cryptocurrencies in the process… with a market cap that eclipsed major banks.
Unfortunately, DOGE later crashed in value — a sign of speculative excess in the market. But attention soon turned to self-proclaimed "Dogecoin killer" SHIBA INU, which then witnessed an astronomical rise.
Tesla made a huge splash when it added $1.5 billion
in Bitcoin to its balance sheet — later selling 10%
of this stash to prove its liquidity. At one point, the company had generated more profits
from owning BTC than it did from selling cars in the whole of 2020… at least on paper, that is.
But the company also caused BTC to tank when it announced that it would stop accepting the cryptocurrency as a payment method — predominantly over concerns about its environmental impact.
Despite all of this drama, Tesla has held on to its Bitcoin investment throughout this year… and has opened the door to accepting BTC once miners can prove that at least 50%
of the energy they use comes from renewable sources. DOGE is now being accepted for merchandise, too.
It's been a bumpy journey for El Salvador — with technical glitches and protests overshadowing this red letter day for adoption.
We're just three months into this radical experiment, and it's going to be fascinating to see how it fares in 2022. Make no mistake, countries around the world are watching how things go very closely.