Crypto’s Three Priorities for 2024: Interoperability, Acceptance, Regulation

Crypto, cryptocurrency

Halfway through 2024, and the cryptocurrency and blockchain space finds itself at a critical juncture. 

It is the same critical juncture, or at least one strikingly similar, that the crypto and digital asset sector has always found itself at — a juncture where regulatory developments, interoperability and scalability, and institutional acceptance are at the forefront.

That’s because regulations, usability and acceptance are the three key themes and trends observers believe will shape the future of Web3, a future that’s been more than a decade in the works.

It was January 2009 when the pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto first minted bitcoin. In the years since, while the adoption of crypto as a mainstream payment mechanism has yet to displace more traditional methods despite the rise of digital transactions, cryptocurrencies have started to find their own success as financial assets.

As crypto increasingly finds its niche as an asset class, industry participants are hoping that the sector can find the runway and land the plane on the rest of blockchain’s transformative potential, too.

Read more: This Week in Web3: Mt Gox Bitcoin and Crypto’s Future

Navigating the Future of Crypto’s Regulatory Developments

One of the most pressing issues facing the crypto and blockchain space is the need for clear regulatory frameworks. Regulatory clarity is crucial for the mainstream adoption and growth of cryptocurrencies. 

Clear regulations can protect consumers, reduce fraud and encourage institutional investment, while regulatory uncertainty or overly restrictive regulations can stifle innovation and hinder technological advancements, lead to market instability and drive businesses to more crypto-friendly jurisdictions.

In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulatory bodies are working on frameworks for cryptocurrencies, but there is still significant uncertainty. The European Union’s (EU) Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation is a step toward a more unified regulatory approach.

Still, wrangling the “Wild West” ethos of the crypto landscape won’t be easy. As recently as Monday (July 1), the SEC charged Silvergate Capital, a favorite former partner of the crypto industry, with a host of wide-ranging compliance failures.

“Silvergate’s automated transaction monitoring system failed to monitor more than $1 trillion of transactions by its customers on the bank’s payments platform, the Silvergate Exchange Network,” the SEC said in a news release. “… Rather than coming clean to investors about serious deficiencies in its compliance programs in the wake of the collapse of FTX, one of Silvergate’s largest banking customers, the bank doubled down in a way that misled investors about the soundness of the programs. 

Elsewhere, the SEC sued Consensys Friday (June 28), charging the blockchain and Web3 software company with engaging in the unregistered offer and sale of securities and with operating as an unregistered broker. These charges center on two services offered by Consensys Software: MetaMask Staking and MetaMask Swaps, the regulator said. 

Of course, given that the second half of 2024 will see the U.S. presidential election, the regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies remains a constantly evolving one as the Web3 space emerges as a policy issue for both major political parties.

Read more: ‘Cryptofinance’ Might Be Replacing ‘Cryptocurrency,’ but Bitcoin Is Still Unreliable

Scalability and Interoperability: Building the Infrastructure for Growth

As the Web3 space matures, scalability and interoperability have emerged as critical challenges. Without addressing these issues, the potential of blockchain technology could be severely limited. 

Scalability refers to the ability of a blockchain network to handle an increasing number of transactions without compromising on speed or efficiency, while interoperability refers to the ability of different blockchain networks to communicate and interact with each other seamlessly. Currently, many blockchain networks operate in silos, limiting their utility and efficiency, particularly within payments.

Effective solutions will be instrumental in the widespread adoption of blockchain technology. By enabling faster and cheaper transactions, these advancements can enhance the user experience and open up new use cases for blockchain.

To that end, Stripe and Coinbase have partnered to expand the global adoption of cryptocurrency and provide faster, cheaper financial infrastructure. This collaboration aims to serve businesses and people around the world, Coinbase said Thursday (June 27).

PYMNTS Intelligence found that using cryptocurrencies for cross-border payments could be the winning use case that the sector has been looking for. The research found that blockchain-based cross-border solutions, particularly stablecoins, are being increasingly embraced by firms looking to find a better way to transact and expand internationally. The Solana network processed $1.4 trillion in stablecoin cross-border payments this past March alone — a testament to the technology’s scalability. 

Read also: Crypto Continues to Serve as Case Study in Behavioral Economics

The Institutional Embrace of Crypto: A New Era for Digital Assets

As major financial institutions, corporations and investment funds increasingly recognize the value and potential of cryptocurrencies, the landscape is shifting. Cryptocurrencies offer a new asset class for diversification. Institutions are drawn to the potential for high returns and the low correlation with traditional asset classes like stocks and bonds. 

Institutional-grade custody solutions have evolved, providing secure storage for large amounts of digital assets. Companies like Coinbase Custody, Fidelity Digital Assets, and Bakkt offer robust security features and insurance coverage. At the same time, regulatory advancements, such as the approval in some jurisdictions of bitcoin and ether exchange-traded funds, have made it easier for institutions to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies in a regulated manner.

The growth of the crypto market has led to increased liquidity, making it easier for institutions to enter and exit positions without significantly impacting price. Additionally, high-profile companies like Block have added bitcoin to their balance sheets, signaling confidence in its long-term value and a desire to learn about the technology and how to use it.