2021 has been a breakout year for cryptocurrency.

And as we head straight into 2022, it’s worth reflecting on the wild 12 months which preceded it. What were your highlights? What moments gave you pause?

Here’s Kraken’s Top Five Moments in Crypto for 2021:

  1. Big banks finally go crypto

In one of the biggest policy turnarounds we’ve seen from Australia’s big four banks, CBA reacted to the criticism it took during the Senate Select Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre by opening up to crypto trading through its CommBank platform.

Commonwealth Bank may have arrived late to the crypto party, but anything that gives more Australians access to cryptocurrency is a good thing for the industry.

  1. Bitcoin soars to $1 trillion market cap

This year crypto saw unprecedented levels of global adoption from institutions and individuals as both Bitcoin and Ethereum reached all time highs.

While impossible to recap it all, some of the biggest stories included El Salvador adopting Bitcoin as legal tender, the first bitcoin futures-based ETF launching in the US, the world’s biggest brands like Twitter and PayPal integrating crypto, and a growing number of companies offering their employees the opportunity to be paid in bitcoin. Not even China’s Central bank banning all crypto transactions could burst bitcoin’s bubble as the cryptocurrency proved extremely resilient through all the volatility.

  1. The US and Australia flag regulation around the corner

Debate about crypto reform has undeniably been one of the hottest topics this year. Regulators at home and in the US are being challenged by an innovative industry and asset class that doesn’t fit existing regulatory molds.

There’s obviously a lot of potential upside from increased regulation. But there’s a risk here too – Japan is an example of a market where the regulation is so heavy-handed that only a small handful of exchanges are able to manage the costs associated with maintaining market licenses.

It’s competition amongst exchanges that keeps costs low and innovation going, so we want to avoid this if we can. One to watch very closely for 2022.

  1. Metaverse explodes into the mainstream

The ‘metaverse’ is where the internet, and everyone on it, is headed. Instead of digital spaces where we send messages, we’ll have 3D virtual environments that we can work, relax or even party in.

The concept exploded into mainstream consciousness with the announcement of Meta by Mark Zuckerberg in late October. That same month Kraken sponsored the Metaverse Festival in Decentraland, the first digital musical festival in the metaverse and event of its kind that featured headline acts like DeadMAU5 and Paris Hilton.

  1. Memecoins, NFTs and Games going blockchain

This year we’ve seen NFTs really take off – from the mundane trading of digital baseball cards all the way to Jack Dorsey selling his first tweet for $2,915,835.47 in March this year. NFTs have exploded in popularity and brought the attention of crypto to a whole new group of people including household names Sotheby’s, NBA and Adidas. It even got named word of the year by Collins Dictionary.

The boom in NFTs goes hand in hand with the emergence of the ‘play-to-earn’ blockchain gaming sector. Axie Infinity is the first game to really nail the concept, and it has over two million concurrent players currently playing, earning and trading through the game. It is the tip of what is potentially a very big iceberg.

Finally, we’ve seen an explosion in new cryptocurrencies in 2021.

Some with utility, others with a combination of simplicity and community.

Each offers something to investors that they can’t really find elsewhere, and that’s what this space is all about.

While we can’t predict what the future holds, we can only expect 2022 will see more of the same adoption and innovation as crypto becomes more accessible, trusted and understood by people and institutions across the globe.

This article was developed in collaboration with Kraken, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.