As we embark on 2022, there's no denying we're expecting a big year for crypto. Several storylines that seemed incomplete in 2021 have yet another chance to grab headlines.
And some cryptocurrencies have more to prove than others. While this isn't to say that all coins have the same weight, several cryptocurrencies have more riding on them in the new year.
The second most valuable cryptocurrency by a longshot, Ether saw massive growth in 2021. As always, the growth in Ether's price can be attributed to adoption of the Ethereum blockchain.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and decentralized finance (DeFi) were two of the biggest trends in 2021 and only served to increase the Ethereum blockchain's importance.
But Ethereum continued to battle crippling scalability issues all year. Rising gas fees and operational issues affected the blockchain time, leading to the rise of so-called "Ethereum killers."
In 2022, Ether and the Ethereum blockchain have a lot to prove. The Ethereum 2.0 upgrade, which will transition the blockchain to the proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism, is expected to happen this year. If successful, Ethereum might be able to hold its place among blockchains. If not, nothing is certain.
Talk about Ethereum brings us firmly to Solana. Among the "Ethereum killers," the Solana blockchain is a stand-out.
This chain went from being a fun project in 2020 to a cornerstone of the crypto industry in 2021. While many complained about Ethereum's issues, Solana offered a home for developers to build and work. It's no wonder SOL's price rocketed significantly through 2021.
In 2022, investors are watching two storylines. First, what happens to Solana after Ethereum 2.0? If the Ethereum upgrade succeeds, developers may flock to Ethereum. Will Solana be able to hold its own? If Ethereum 2.0 fails, Solana could become the new Ethereum. But how would it handle the user influx?
The second issue is related to Solana's security. Last year, Solana was hit by two major security threats. Will Solana Labs succeed in ensuring safety and security in 2022?
Either way, 2022 will be a watershed year for Solana.
The Cardano blockchain joined the list of "Ethereum killers" in 2021 thanks to the successful Alonzo hard fork. The hard fork brought smart contracts to Cardano, giving developers a means to build on the blockchain.
Interestingly, Cardano is one of the oldest crypto projects. But Alonzo brought new life to the blockchain. Since the hard fork went live, Cardano's developers have been announcing partnerships to attract developers and drive some buzz for the blockchain.
Still, things haven't panned out so well for Cardano's ADA token. The asset hit an all-time high in the lead-up to Alonso, but it has performed disappointingly since then.
The market's slow recovery in 2021's fourth quarter had a lot to do with it, but you also get the feeling that Cardano's adoption numbers haven't been great.
We're curious to see how Cardano fares in 2022.
Dogecoin made investors rich in 2021. The asset cemented its place among meme coins, riding on the popularity gained across social media and Elon Musk's tweets.
Interestingly, the Dogecoin Foundation has been working to ensure that the asset goes from being just a meme coin to something useful. It appears they're over the coin's joke status and are working hard to improve functionality.
This year, we expect to see interesting things from Dogecoin. How will its staking look? Will it provide a stable means of payment?
XRP was of the most pleasantly surprising coins of 2021. Standing as the third most valuable coin for years, it fell sharply in the rankings in December 2020 after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Ripple Labs for securities fraud.
While many had cast XRP off, the coin delivered some impressive gains and performances in 2021. With the SEC case still looming, XRP was still able to perform.
For 2022, it's all about what will happen between the SEC and Ripple Labs. Ripple is confident the case will resolve soon and they can return focus to the core of their operations. If this happens, we expect to see an uptick in XRP's price.
Big Things Coming In 2022
A lot of other cryptocurrencies have points to prove as well. The market is still in its early days, and crypto isn't going anywhere.
With trends entering the market and shaping how people view money, it is genuinely the most exciting time to be in crypto.