DeFi, DAOs and CBDCs: 8 crypto innovators on what’s next
PURCHASE, NY (April 6, 2022) — In 2011, Brazilian software developer Lucas Schoch spent more than 1,100 bitcoin inside World of Warcraft, the popular online fantasy game. Cryptocurrency had yet to explode in value, but he quickly realized what a mistake he’d made.
Data scientist Vijay Pravin had just founded an AI-powered blockchain analytics firm when he heard about the record $69 million sale of a digital artwork known as a non-fungible token a year ago. He learned that the buyer, a crypto entrepreneur, hailed from Pravin’s hometown of Chennai, India. Inspired, he started digging into NFTs.
As a child in the late 1970s, Christian Duffus fled political unrest in Jamaica with his family and landed in Miami. He eventually founded and sold three startups in fintech and wireless technology, all with a social justice mission. Then he figured out a way to link all three — with crypto.
Today, Schoch runs Bitfy, the Brazil-based cryptocurrency wallet app. Pravin’s startup bitsCrunch works to make NFT marketplaces more reliable and transparent. And Duffus’s newest venture, Fonbnk, allows people to convert the value on their prepaid mobile SIM cards into cryptocurrency.
These companies, along with San Francisco-based Ankr, Denmark’s SPENN Technology, and Argentina’s belo, are working to bring the benefits of blockchain products to more people. They all joined Start Path Crypto, Mastercard’s blockchain-focused startup engagement program, as part of those efforts. Start Path Crypto gives these companies — as well as the 12 startups from the program’s earlier waves in July and December — access to partnership opportunities, insights and tools to grow.
In less than 15 years, cryptocurrency has grown from a largely speculative investment vehicle among hardcore enthusiasts in developed nations to a global financial phenomenon. The number of crypto users grew by 178% in 2021, with 295 million users worldwide by the end of the year — and that number is expected to reach a billion by the end of 2022, according to a recent Crypto.com report.
The market size of blockchain-based businesses and tech, which power crypto and a growing number of finance, logistics and media services, is expected to grow from nearly $5 billion in 2021 to $228 billion by 2028, according to another recent forecast. But challenges remain in mainstreaming crypto and blockchain as government regulations, tech standards and plenty more still need to be ironed out.
“We’re a startup that aims to be giant,” says Schoch, who had struggled with Brazil’s lack of a blockchain infrastructure. “Being close to a giant can help us learn with the experience of one.”
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