It's easy to think crypto is ubiquitous when you're embedded in the ecosystem. However, we're far from that. In truth, crypto is still in its infancy. There's a lot more to do to unlock the full potential of the technology, onboard the next billion users, and bring crypto into the mainstream.
My colleagues and I in the Checkout.com crypto team frequently have this discussion, and often draw parallels between the development of crypto and the internet, which also faced criticism and bumps on the road to becoming what it is today. It feels like crypto is on a very similar trajectory.
The events of the past few months give strength to that comparison. And given the backdrop of the so-called 'Crypto Winter,' I went into the Consensus conference unsure of what the mood would be. But I left more encouraged than ever that crypto, despite recent bumps in the road, is heading in the right direction.
Most notably, it seems crypto is entering a moment of maturity. It feels like many in the industry want to move beyond hype and hyperbole to double down and focus on the underlying technology that holds so much promise.
Here are a few of my key takeaways from the event.
Shifting perspectives on the role of regulators
Regulation of the crypto industry was a big topic at the conference and a key point of debate. And while some still believe regulation conflicts with crypto's ideals, most that spoke at the event said regulation is inevitable and necessary to guide crypto on its journey towards mainstream adoption.
The regulators' stance is also changing, as is the maturity of the debate overall. It was interesting to hear Deputy Secretary at the U.S Treasury, Wally Adeyemo's, views on the matter. He made a case that policymakers want the same thing as investors and innovators: to provide consumer and investor protection, ensure financial stability and stop crime, not stifle innovation.
These regulatory discussions will continue, and Checkout.com will continue to have a voice. As a service provider to some of the most innovative participants in the Web3 ecosystem, we recognize the vital role it can play in providing the certainty craved by market participants and building trust in the ecosystem as a whole — all of which will help it grow.
Onboarding the next billion crypto users
If one part of the equation towards mass adoption is focusing on building the regulatory frameworks that provide the necessary stability and protections, another is making crypto and Web3 more accessible.
At Checkout.com, we see a big opportunity here. For several years, we've worked with many big exchanges to provide them with fiat-to-crypto on/off ramps that allow their customers to buy and sell crypto seamlessly.
However, there's a lot more work to do. Across the rest of the ecosystem, the arduous processes required to enter and exit Web3 are a step too far for the general population — unless highly motivated to do so. It's a complex problem, but one we're excited to work with the industry to help solve by continuing to build more efficient bridges between Web2 and Web3 and offering the industry the knowledge we have from our years of experience seamlessly moving money around the world.
Making a case for institutional adoption
Getting more businesses to accept and hold crypto is another exciting challenge for the industry on its journey to make crypto mainstream. Our recent survey found that while many businesses are keen to explore crypto in various forms, few are yet to take action. The reservations they cited include regulatory uncertainty, operational challenges and volatility.
Plenty of conversations focused on the latter two issues. On the operational side, there were discussions on the challenges businesses currently face when accepting crypto. These include the different integrations required, complex legal requirements, and more.
The consensus was that these challenges were not going to be solved overnight. There's the technology side that needs work, especially as it pertains to the user experience. But plenty of companies, such as our partner Alchemy Pay, are laser-focused on solving these issues and giving businesses the ability and confidence to accept crypto as payment.
There's also a stigma around crypto for many businesses who believe the risks of accepting digital assets far outweigh the benefits. It'll be up to the industry to continue offering the necessary education and change the narrative.
Another way to drive institutional adoption is for the industry to continue using the underlying technology to build solutions with genuine utility. These include solutions such as stablecoin settlement, which solves the trapped liquidity issue faced by all businesses operating in the digital economy and using NFTs to unlock new approaches to engage with consumers.
Meet the Checkout.com crypto team
Checkout.com's growing crypto team will continue to be on the ground at significant industry events worldwide, including NFT.NYC, FinTech Fest in August and Token2049 Singapore and London.