Author: Sam Rucker
2021 saw crypto really hit the mainstream, whilst concepts like NFTs and the Metaverse made an indelible mark on the year’s zeitgeist. But what will crypto hold in store for us in 2022? What important changes will take place behind the tech scenes and what will take centre stage?
We sat down with Niko Woischnik, co-founder of TOA, Ahoy Berlin, Openers and Healthy Together. Niko is an active participant in the Web3 landscape, whose credentials can be traced back all the way to 2013 when TOA hosted its first talk on crypto, to today where we see TOA offering cutting edge programs on all things Web3.
In this discussion, Niko gives us a fresh take on how crypto may help shape 2022.
Q: Just off the bat, what is a top-level trend that you think will define crypto in 2022?
Something really exciting is the ability for users to now become co-owners of a platform.
DAOs at the end of 2021 got a lot of buzz. Whilst, not every project needs to be a DAO, I think we are going to see more and more projects transition to the same community governance system.
This system will see community members more engaged and the project better aligned to their incentives. Social tokens and NFTs can be used to gate access to both special content and IRL (in real life) experiences — and reward certain kinds of community behaviors!
What will all of this look like? Well, for instance, instead of buying a magazine subscription, you can buy a stake in a journalistic project, help form a community of stakeholders to mould the project and give those stakeholders access to online content and offline experiences.
The musician RAC has done something similar with music by launching his own tokens.
At TOA we are super excited about this space and started a new podcast series on how innovators have already leveraged these initiatives.
Q: Are there any crypto trends that might surprise people?
Something that has been bubbling within crypto for a while, but I feel will take the mainstream by storm in 2022, is playing to earn.
The gaming industry is worth around $200 billion — that’s more than the entire movie or music industry! What’s even more exciting is the growth in this sector. If you just take esports revenue in America alone, that’s expected to grow by more than $1 billion this year. That’s why you see companies like Microsoft making their biggest acquisition ever in Activision Blizzard (worth $68 billion).
In terms of how this sector is growing, one trend we saw last year was games becoming ‘mini virtual economies’: an environment where you can buy, own and even sell your avatar’s clothes, for example.
In other words, we are getting closer to what could be considered the Metaverse.
The power of crypto currencies and primitives will add fuel to the fire and ensure that playing to earn expands into the mainstream of 2022. Crypto/Web3 could also push us all towards a version of the Metaverse — but this is much more of a long term process.
Q: What do you think will be an important technical trend or change for crypto in 2022?
Well, gas fees are a big one to watch out for. There was so much adoption of Ethereum in 2022 that it got extremely congested, driving up gas fees (which are essentially the equivalent of transaction fees or the cost of executing a contract on the Ethereum).
In 2022 the Ethereum ecosystem plans to do three things that will help them scale more efficiently in the future: the switch of consensus mechanisms from ‘proof-of-work’ to ‘proof-of-stake’, the addition of Layer 2's and sharding.
These things combined will bring down the energy consumption of mining, ultimately bringing down gas fees for transactions. In fact, in the last week or two, we have already seen Ethereum fees drop by around 35% (but it still hasn’t dropped below the $30 mark).
This is hugely important because, at the moment, these fees are just too high and are a real turn off for people. Reducing fees could really help give mainstream adoption of Ethereum another huge boost.
Q: Crypto and environmentalism have had a complex relationship in the past. How do you think this will play out for crypto in 2022?
In an attempt to brush aside any criticism, players in the crypto field use statistics to prove that crypto has a smaller environmental impact than legacy institutions. There are studies out there, for example, showing bitcoin consumes less than a quarter of the power that banks do.
In my opinion, this misses the point. If the perception is that crypto is not environmentally friendly, then its growth will be stunted — not least by unfriendly regulation. We have already seen China outright ban bitcoin, in large part because of the electricity it consumes.
We are currently building crypto from the ground up. We, therefore, have the unique opportunity to build it in the cleanest possible way, if nothing else, because this will make mainstream adoption far more feasible.
I am not an expert on this, but would argue that this should be our number one goal in 2022.
Q: 2021 was not a hugely successful year for Big Tech. Will this continue in 2022? How will crypto trends be impacted?
First off, it’s important to define ‘success’. In terms of usage, we will not see a drop off in Big Tech in 2022; we will still be Googling our way around the web and using Amazon to stock our homes.
However, we are starting to see a ceiling: how much more can Big Tech really grow by? You can see this reflected in stock prices. Amazon’s stock price has dropped by more than 20% in the last 6 months. Plus, with interest rate hikes looming future, growth will be under even further pressure.
On the other hand, transparency, decentralized governance and data sovereignty by users are all benefits of Web3 and stand in stark contrast to what has allowed dislike for Big Tech to fester.
Web3 only stands to gain from all of this; if you had to choose between being a “user” or “co-owner” in a product, what would you chose?
To give you a concrete implication, I think that Big Tech will find it increasingly hard to recruit in 2022. Amazon, Google, and Facebook were all the places to work for 5 years ago. When I look around at my peers I just dont see the same excitement anymore. That being said, I used to work at Amazon and am grateful for the opportunity. It’s not so much about the individual companies but the fact that young talent wants to work where history is made. At the moment I see Web3 being the space for that in 2022.
Q: What 2021 crypto trends will come to an end in 2022?
I do think the NFT space will change.
To the surprise of industry insiders, In 2021 it was NFTs that took the centre stage and ended up catapulting Web3 and crypto into the mainstream. I don’t think it is a coincidence, though, that art and culture were such huge drivers for the adoption of new trends. It usually is!
With all of that, we saw a huge gold rush last year around buying NFTs. Now, we are seeing the market cool off — an NFT that is simply a copy of another is no longer valuable like it once was.
Therefore, In 2022, NFTs will become more creative in order to stay relevant. This will force a lot of innovation and, as a result, I think the best is yet to come for the NFT space.
The underlying smart contracts allow for many different use cases and we will see NFTs creep into many different areas of our economy. For example, we are already seeing NFTs seep into education: NFTs are being issued in place of certificates and connected to attendance.
Q: On that note, how will crypto have an impact on the education space in 2022?
As a founder in the education space, this is something I am always looking at.
It is clear that a lot of innovation is needed in education. The shelf life of skills in the tech industry is about 5 years, and yet we go to university only once in our lifetime? That doesn’t make sense.
Lifelong learning will only grow as technological changes accelerate. In 2022, crypto and tokens could therefore help push education’s business model in that direction.
We could see teachers profiting directly from their lessons, learning cohorts forming around communities that have invested in a program through crypto/tokens, tokens unlocking more than just course access but an all-encompassing learning experience… as everything Web3, the possibilities are endless.
The intersection of lifelong learning, community and Web3 is what we are dedicating all of our time to at TOA Klub — so watch this space!
Interested in finding out about how a TOA membership could help you harness the magic of crypto in 2022?
- NFT Creators Klub: Helps artists create and promote their first NFTs.
- NFT Marketeers Klub: Helps marketeers devise the right NFT strategy for their business.
- Crypto Co-Founders Klub: Connects technologists and business talent that are looking to start a crypto project.
- Crypto Talent Klub: Opens doors for talent looking to join the crypto space.