Cryptocurrency has been taking the world by storm the past few years, with leading coins attaining significant value. And yet, everything about crypto tends to feel as if it’s somewhat uncertain. Prices experience volatile swings; experts and forecasters disagree about where it’s all heading in the future; there have been legal disputes over the founding of bitcoin (the original cryptocurrency). In short, there remain a lot of important questions in the crypto world.
One thing we do know for certain is that crypto has become extremely popular over the years, with more and more newcomers streaming into the market. From a functional standpoint, crypto is popular for two reasons: It’s an investment vehicle, and it’s a newcomer to the ranks of alternative payment options online. The vast majority of people who get into cryptocurrency are doing so either with hopes of financial gain or so that they can use it in digital payments.
The reality though is that cryptocurrency is a technology more than a currency, and as such it has some interesting functions aside from facilitating payment and investment. So, whether or not it actually replaces everyday payments for most of us, there are several other ways that cryptocurrency can be put to use. Here are four that may help broaden your understanding of the phenomenon.
Some smaller cryptocurrencies exist largely to facilitate online tips for things like written articles and other digital services. The most prominent example in this regard for some time was arguably Steemit –– a sort of publishing platform (think Medium) where readers can tip writers with the STEEM cryptocurrency. More recently however, we’ve seen bigger names (and bigger cryptos) getting in on the tipping concept. Notably, Twitter recently set up a tipping feature whereby users can tip one another with bitcoin (with more traditional cash options coming soon).
While this idea is certainly payment-adjacent, it’s worth noting as another clever application of crypto technology that doesn’t simply have to do with investment or direct transactions. Basically, the idea here is that there are some cryptos that exist as vehicles to simplify currency exchange in cross-border payments. The Ripple (XRP) cryptocurrency is particularly well known for this. It enables two parties dealing in different currencies to set up a transaction such that funds convert automatically into XRP at the outset, and then to the recipient’s currency at the end. Expect to see this sort of function being used more and more as crypto grows businesses and financial dealings become increasingly international in nature.
Sports Fan Tokens
In more of a just-for-fun vein, we’re also seeing some interesting applications of cryptocurrency in the tokenization of sports fanhood. Most notably, many sports fans have already discovered the Chiliz-backed fan tokens that a number of pro sports teams (and even leagues) have gotten involved with. Chiliz is a cryptocurrency set up for this purpose, and with it, fans can buy smaller, team-specific cryptos that give the fans special perks with favorite teams. Among the teams involved are European soccer giants Paris St. Germain, AC Milan, FC Barcelona and Juventus –– as well as most teams in the NBA! Some whole organizations (like UFC) and sporting events (like tennis’s Davis Cup) have also gotten on board. It’s hard to predict exactly where the market for fan tokens will go from here, but watch this space for growth. Fans love to be more connected to their favorite teams and athletes.
Also in the “just-for-fun” category (though there is lucrative potential here) is the emergence of gaming reward tokens. Recent years have seen numerous play-to-earn crypto games essentially establishing their own corner in the gaming industry. Some games reward time or achievements with crypto; some make use of mixed reality to allow you to actually hunt for crypto coins as you might do with Pokémon (but instead of funny animals, you’re catching coins). Indeed, there is a great range of these types of games now, from NFT games that have crypto rewards to card and puzzle games whose winnings come in the form of –– you guessed it –– cryptocurrency.
These are only a few examples, but they demonstrate that that cryptocurrency phenomenon goes beyond digital payment and investment. This is a broader tech development affecting numerous aspects of modern society in fun and interesting ways.