In the beginning, there was AOL.
The whirr of the disc drive, the screech of the modem and the infamous “You’ve got mail!”
In the mid-1990s, this is how we accessed the limited use cases of the internet.
You could check your email, download a JPEG or look up driving directions on MapQuest.com.
That was pretty much it.
When the dot-com era arrived in the late ‘90s, ideas for what the internet could be exploded.
Search engines to quickly find information.
Websites that let users download music via MP3 files.
And e-commerce websites that allowed the purchase of books (Amazon) and collectibles (eBay).
The internet evolved into different use cases. It exploded over the next decade. And now everything around us is connected.
As writer Mark Twain might have said: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”
Like dot-com in the late ‘90s, the crypto revolution has just started.
And there’s a major parallel that’s taking shape right now.
Decentralized Tech Relies on the Next Gen Coin
At the core of the internet is a technology that turns information into code and then transmits it across time and space.
This breakthrough changed the world.
Blockchains and their related cryptocurrencies were another massive technological breakthrough.
At the core of this technology is the ability to create something of digital value (e.g., a crypto) which can be sent or exchanged across time and space.
But the key here is that it can be done without needing a central intermediary.
Crypto started with one early use case. Satoshi Nakamoto created bitcoin as a decentralized way to transfer value peer-to-peer.
In the last decade, bitcoin exploded from a tiny, alternative crypto to a brand-new investment instrument. Its price went from under $0.01 to over $60,000.
In that sense, bitcoin is like AOL.
It helped millions of Americans learn about crypto, just like AOL helped us discover the internet.
But new use cases for this digital peer-to-peer technology are now gaining traction.
Here’s a short list of the crypto sectors that I believe will see exponential growth this decade:
Decentralized finance (DeFi). This is the recreation of all traditional financial activities on the blockchain. Some examples include decentralized exchanges where holders become the market makers, lending platforms where crypto users can be the bank and synthetic assets that allow exposure to real-world assets. Two years ago, there was less than $1 billion on DeFi platforms. But that amount has now grown to over $200 billion.
Nonfungible tokens (NFTs). These are unique tokens that represent a piece of digital media such as a picture, song or video. NFTs will change how all digital content is created and consumed. For instance, music NFTs will allow musicians to distribute their content directly to their fans without the need for a platform such as Spotify or Apple Music.
The metaverse. This is the next great social media platform. Facebook is trying to get ahead of this trend by changing its name to Meta. The metaverse is an encompassing term that describes a way to bring the physical world into the digital world. It will recreate our digital identities. But we won’t want Facebook and Google controlling our digital selves. That’s why blockchain is important. It allows you to track your digital items without the need for a centralized intermediary.
Decentralized cloud storage. Data is growing exponentially this decade. It needs to be stored somewhere. Currently, most of our data is stored and controlled by tech giants like Amazon and Google. But crypto is opening up a new way to store and share data. Decentralized cloud platforms let anyone with idle storage space play the role of a data center. This is going to make the cloud run much more efficiently.
Here’s the kicker: None of these decentralized breakthroughs are built on bitcoin.
They all rely on the technology that underpins what I call the “Next Gen Coin.”
Editor, Strategic Fortunes