Opinion: 2023 – An inconspicuous year that changed everything

Written by Mel Gelderman

Posted on December 21st, 2023

Mel Gelderman reflects on the crypto market's developments this year and shares what he believes will be waiting for us around the corner in 2024.

As 2023 is coming to a close and 2024 is peeping through the window, the time of the year when we all reflect on the past and contemplate the future has finally come.

The bear market kept the industry somewhat slow during 2023. However, some very relevant events took place which will shape next year’s market, while no major disasters took place. And this makes 2023 a very positive year for crypto.

The crypto world may never recover from the enormous reputational damage caused by Sam Bankman-Fried and the FTX collapse. A little over a month ago, he was found guilty of seven counts of fraud and his sentence will be handed down in March.

While the crypto world knew that Binance was under scrutiny and some “legal problems” were expected, the size of the fine imposed by the US treasury was historic (literally).

Some cryptocurrency enthusiasts trembled at the thought of a $4.3 billion fine and the potential implications for the exchange, some even expected collapses and disasters similar to the previous ones.

However, Binance was more than capable of fronting the fine - its operations continued as usual and Changpeng Zhao was replaced by Richard Teng as CEO.

Zhao is considered a hero by many in the world of crypto, and this whole affair with the SEC has done nothing but underline his role in the creation of an unshakable giant capable of fronting the largest settlement ever imposed by the United States Treasury. 

Meanwhile, the SEC has made it clear that the crypto industry is not welcome in the United States.

The world is big, and this will only bring about an exodus of founders and companies to markets such as Dubai, Singapore or Hong Kong that, regardless of their demanding regulations, have opened their doors in a friendlier way to one of the most innovative industries in the world.

Another surprise that 2023 brought was the recovery of Bitcoin which is up around 140% while the market is up around 80%. This of course influences the bullish expectations for 2024, but we cannot discard the possibility of a slight correction or even stable trading for a few months before the bull run actually begins. 

Solana was considered one of the most beaten down assets during the past bear market, however the events around its recovery have been the talk of the day, even overshadowing Ethereum. Let’s not forget that these are both incredible pieces of technology designed to make the world a better place, and they can succeed simultaneously, so let’s not feed on the “cliqueness” that is so common in our space. 

Solana has shown signs of its potential of real-world adoption through partnerships with giants like VISA and Shopify. Its previously unsuccessful phone is sold out in the United States as it comes packed with BONK, a Meme Coin that has experienced stratospheric pumps recently.

It seems that Solana is becoming the preferred playing field of several Meme Coins. But irrespective of this trend, the surge of these types of coins says a lot about the future of the market. 

Meme Coins are a gateway for crypto newbies, simply because they are easy to understand. With no real utility other than the value attributed by the internet communities, their rise and fall are determined by online trends. 

This highlights the need for touchpoints between the crypto and the mainstream worlds. The surge of these “touchpoints” may be one of the biggest trends during 2024 and beyond.  

NFTs could help bridge the gap between Web3 and Web2. Currently, the sentiment around the NFT space is weak. We saw some early use cases back in 2021 - some were just cash grabs while others lacked real utility leaving many previous enthusiasts underwhelmed. 

When deployed correctly, NFT technology can be quite useful. One of the value propositions for Web3 gaming is play to earn tokens and tokenized assets such as skins and wearables. While gamers do not particularly like NFTs, the gaming industry is massive and is expected to expand. Web3 gaming will inevitably find its own space.  

Another avenue for NFTs to find their way into the mainstream is through artists. NFTs could potentially give them control over their creations – and revenues –  while providing exclusive benefits and experiences for loyal fans.  

Finally, possibly the biggest disruption with cross-industry implication but especially important for the blockchain world is the introduction of AI consumer products such as ChatGPT and Midjourney. 

The immediate effects of AI in the lives of thousands of people are easily noticeable. The artificial intelligence industry alone is expected to experience a boom even greater than the dot-com bubble in the 1990s. 

As an obvious consequence, interest in AI centric blockchain projects has increased considerably.

It will be interesting to see how these AI tokens behave while keeping an eye on those that simply use the term “AI” as a marketing buzzword. 

2024 is looking positive for crypto.

As portfolios turn green, Bitcoin halving is staring at us from the horizon, and a BlackRock backed Bitcoin ETF is a real possibility. The winds of change can certainly be felt.

Who knows? Maybe a new time for crypto has begun.

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Please note: Investing in cryptoassets is risky. Due to the volatile nature of the cryptocurrency market, investors run the risk of losing their funds when they make an investment. Returns from cryptoasset investing are not guaranteed, therefore users should always be aware of the risks.