5 predictions for bitcoin, NFTs and the future of money

Experts reveal where cryptocurrency is headed in 2022.

Cryptocurrency made many of the strangest headlines of 2021. Boosters touted digital currencies as a world-changing technology with the potential to create new economies and empower people who don't have access to bank accounts.

Critics pointed to crypto's massive environmental footprint, as well as its popularity in online crime. The chasm between these views will be hard to bridge.

Much of the cryptocurrency industry functions as a hype-monster, powered by oddball memes of cute dogs and outer-space emoji. 

The same industry boasts a staggering amount of funding from venture capitalists and private enthusiasts, along with real technical innovations that could radically alter the way we interact with money. And, as it often goes with innovation, what we get may not be what we expect. 

CNET asked experts to help us navigate crypto's journey to new lands in 2022. Here's what they told us.

1. Crypto moves further into the mainstream. Big companies are trying to figure out how cryptocurrency fits into their business. Everyone from hedge fund managers to Starbucks executives are making moves that could impact how we use digital money this year. 

When we hear about cryptocurrency in the headlines, it's often about Tesla CEO Elon Musk's tweets, overnight millionaires, expensive digital art and hacks. Yet the larger, fundamental changes are often less flashy and attention-grabbing than whatever crypto-hype machine dominates Twitter at any given moment. 

"I hope we're going to see a lot more focus on utility," said Denelle Dixon, CEO of Stellar Development Foundation. "Instead of focusing just on a few use cases that create a lot of hype, we'll see more focus on the use cases that drive real value. And more discussion around financial inclusion."

2. NFTs create new ownership opportunities, and remix old ones

NFT, or nonfungible token, is a buzzy term that many of us heard for the first time in 2021. A new way to determine ownership of digital property using a blockchain ledger, NFTs are increasingly popular in the art and collectibles scenes. 

One of the most notable NFT collections of 2021 was called the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Go figure.

But the potential of NFTs goes far beyond eccentric digital artworks. NFTs are also used for digital land purchases in virtual worlds and for next-generation music ownership, licensing and publishing. 

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