- An explosion of interest in cryptocurrencies made 2021 a pivotal year for the industry.
- NFTs, a bitcoin ETF, growing use cases in the metaverse, and regulatory developments bought Wall Street asset managers to the forefront of crypto investing this year.
- These are the 10 best performing crypto assets of 2021, according to data from CoinMarketCap.
This has been the year in which cryptocurrencies made it into mainstream finance, when everyone from celebrities to athletes and art auctioneers dived into blockchain-based digital collectors’ items and play-to-earn platforms transformed the dynamics of the gaming economy.
Institutional and retail investors alike have piled into crypto assets, blockchain-based products, and services like non-fungible tokens, turning a $1 trillion market into a $3 trillion one in under 12 months.
Most recently, the rise of the metaverse has created a new wave of investment opportunities for everything from digital land to digital designer goods. Investors have certainly welcomed the growing sophistication of the cryptosphere.
In 2022, as more use cases emerge, decentralized finance is evolving. And the metaverse and NFTs — a digital representation of a real-world piece of artwork, music or video, for example — grow in popularity, crypto assets are expected to spiral even higher in value.
The rise in the cryptocurrency market has not just been driven by bitcoin. Other smaller coins have risen exponentially year-to-date and gained mainstream fame. Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that was created a few years ago as a joke, has been one of the star performers, and gave rise to a series of spin-offs that achieved even more dizzying heights.
So-called altcoins that are native to blockchains that many believe will power much of the financial world of the future, as well as the digital realm, have soared, making crypto-superstars out of the likes of solana, cardano and avalanche. Billionaire crypto bull Mike Novogratz has called ether a more attractive investment than bitcoin because people view it as a technology bet.
But these are small markets that are highly volatile. This means traders can expect massive losses or gains in the blink of an eye. A cryptocurrency can soar 100% in a week, only to reverse course and surrender all those gains in days, or even hours in some cases.
Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency in market value, is up about 70% so far this year. Meanwhile, many metaverse-native crypto tokens, which are based on the ethereum blockchain, have expanded from one week to the next, as anyone wanting to enter these digital worlds must first own the corresponding digital currency.
For instance, users of the virtual world Sandbox can build, own, and monetize their gaming experiences on the ethereum blockchain using SAND, the platform’s utility token. The same goes for Decentraland users, or Axie Infinity gamers, who can breed, own and train their own little digital critters. Each platform has its own native currency.
Insider took a look at the top 10 best performing cryptocurrencies of the past year with a market value of over $1 billion, according to data from CoinMarketCap.
Market Cap: $6.8 billion
YTD Performance: 4,397%
Market Cap: $2.2 billion
YTD Performance: 4,464%
Market Cap: $1.9 billion
YTD Performance: 8,131%
Market Cap: $3.9 billion
YTD Performance: 8,966%
Market Cap: $58.2 billion
YTD Performance: 10,180%
Market Cap: $28.7 billion
YTD Performance: 11,558%
Market Cap: $16.3 billion
YTD Performance: 12,817%
3. The Sandbox
Market Cap: $4.9 billion
YTD Performance: 14,629%
2. Axie Infinity
Market Cap: $6.8 billion
YTD Performance: 18,996%
Market Cap: $3.6 billion
YTD Performance: 50,829%
Read More: The chief investment officer of a $150 million crypto hedge fund shares 3 altcoins of layer-one protocols that could ‘attract a lot of capital’ — and 2 emerging trends to watch in the year ahead