The crypto sector has evolved from an industry with Bitcoin as one of the first few, to the current market with thousands of options. As the industry matured and birthed more digital assets, the available use cases also expanded. Today, cryptocurrencies are used in many different ways, most of which are tied to their functions as mediums of exchange or stores of value. However, these digital assets also serve several functions, some unrelated to solving financial problems. The following are some of the most prevalent uses of cryptocurrencies according to consumer trends:
This is the most common use case found among crypto holders. According to a survey conducted between December 2022 and January 2023 by crypto data aggregator CoinGecko and research firm Blockchain Research Lab, 93.9% of all holders said they use cryptocurrencies for investment. This is not surprising, considering the market’s volatility, which could sometimes be advantageous to people who hold crypto for the long term.
Bitcoin investors enjoyed 95% returns in 2019, 301% in 2020, and 90% in 2021. For Ethereum, holders made 184% of their initial investments in 2021. Several other cryptocurrencies, including Dogecoin (DOGE) and Shiba Inu (SHIB), have also produced thousands in percentages as returns on investments. Today, many people simply buy cryptocurrencies and hold them until their value appreciates.
Cryptocurrencies are also favored for their function as a medium of exchange. Many crypto holders use digital assets for payment instead of sticking to fiat. CoinGecko ranks crypto payments as the third most common use case, with 84.5% of respondents stating they have used crypto for payments.
Many merchants today provide their customers with support for crypto payments in addition to fiat. Merchants and business owners may use crypto payment gateways to immediately convert the received crypto to fiat to avoid losing any value to the market’s volatility. Major examples of businesses that accept crypto payments include Shopify, AMC Theatres, Burger King, Tesla, Home Depot, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Crypto is also popular in the gambling industry, especially among the top listed crypto casinos for October. In addition to fiat-based options, online platforms have added crypto payments as a means for players to deposit funds to place wagers. There’s a long list of online casinos that accept cryptocurrency payments and offer attractive bonuses, including a deposit bonus of up to 360%, free spins, and welcome cashback of up to 1 BTC.
Decentralized projects typically use this method to ensure community participation in their decision-making processes. Typically, a project may sell governance tokens to its community and ascribe governance votes to each buyer in a tiered system. Holders with many tokens may hold more voting power than others. According to the survey previously mentioned, up to 74.5% of the survey respondents have voted or participated in projects for the specific purpose of governance.
Cheap Fund Transfers
Many people use cryptocurrencies to transfer funds, especially across borders. Blockchain technology completely revolutionized cross-border remittances, making these transactions instantaneous and very cost-effective. In 2018, a Litecoin (LTC) transfer made the news when anonymous parties moved $99 million worth of the asset between two wallets in one trade. Blockchain data showed that the transaction was completed in 2.5 minutes and cost a mere $0.40. Also, in 2020, an unknown Bitcoin whale moved $1.15 billion worth of the crypto and only paid fees of 0.00027847 BTC, worth only $3.58 at the time. Another whale moved $2.2 billion in 2020 and only paid $7 in charges.
Crypto holders use yield farming to earn rewards by depositing their assets into a liquidity pool. Owners are essentially lending or staking their digital assets on a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform for a set period. In return for providing liquidity on the selected platform, a yield farmer receives payment through the platform’s native token or other digital assets as advertised. Sometimes, farmers also try yield compounding, which requires them to reinvest their earnings for maximum rewards.
Although yield farming can be lucrative, it is a high-risk and volatile approach that requires farmers to tread cautiously. Several factors, including market fluctuations, governance changes, and vulnerabilities in smart contracts, can affect liquidity pools and deplete a yield farmer’s investment.
Staking is the process of locking crypto tokens on a proof-of-stake (PoS) network to help make the platform more secure. Staked crypto tokens also help to maintain a network’s operations.
Staking is very similar to yield farming since both methods provide earnings to users who deposit crypto funds and leave them locked for a specified period. However, there are a few differences between the two strategies. Firstly, the primary purpose of crypto staking is to support a network’s operations, while yield farming is mostly to contribute to liquidity pools. In addition, the returns for yield farming are a lot higher. While yield farmers can earn more than 100% APY (annual percentage yield), staking yields usually return between 5% and 14%.
Conclusion: Shaping Consumer Behavior and Finance
Cryptocurrencies have now found their way into e-commerce and investments, aiding inclusion in the global financial industry. Digital assets are functional as financial tools to ease payments and fund transfers, and are also trusted investment tools regardless of the high risk involved. The continuous evolution of crypto and the advantages blockchain affords, including security and decentralization, show that crypto has played an essential role in the global financial landscape and will likely continue shaping consumer behavior.