Crypto is still a trendy investment, despite crashing hard around the start of the year almost to the lows of summer 2024. Not only have some been tempted to ‘buy the dip,’ but purchases have increased particularly as more people come to understand it and as automated investment platforms become available, making it more accessible to ‘set it and forget it.’ For those prospective investors who want it to be a viable longer term multi-decade investment, what they’re waiting on is an indication that Bitcoin and other cryptos will have long-term practical uses. If they’re seen to be a passing fad with limited utility or security, certain kinds of investors will remain skeptical. After a tumultuous decade, where is there promise of practical applicability?
While fiat currencies naturally still dwarf alternatives in property transactions, in some places there’s already a burgeoning and even quite mature section of the real estate market where Bitcoin is accepted. It could be suggested that real estate is a more stable asset for making use of gains in the more volatile crypto market, as well as one where the immutable ledger serves as a proof of purchase. However, one thing to keep in mind is the hefty capital gains tax laid on such a purchase, for which a sufficient reserve will need to be factored in.
One of the theoretical strengths of Bitcoin and other cryptos is their transnational usage. As such, paying for travel-related goods and services seems like a fairly natural use case. Nowadays there are travel agents, hotels and even airlines accepting Bitcoin. Enthusiasts are, of course, dreaming of a day when the need to exchange currencies between territories is a thing of the past, and although it’s hard to see a point where you could take a whole holiday using only crypto outside of ‘cryptopias’ like El Salvador, that potential future might be closer than we think.
Moving away from the physical world and back into the more straightforwardly digital, there’s been a lot of attention drawn to the use of crypto in video games. It’s a natural transition for an industry that has seen a ballooning of profits from microtransactions in the last decade or so to start implementing crypto tokens. Crypto-oriented games, where Ethereum or similar tokens have so far been popular mediums of exchange, are again still relatively small within a juggernaut sector. But don’t expect that to last, with big names from EA, Square Enix and Ubisoft declaring their love for tokens and in-game NFT asset applications of the tech.
Not only is crypto heating up in modern games, it’s starting to crop up in modern iterations of much older ones, too. The idea of cryptocurrency in online poker has been discussed quite a lot in recent years as a potential asset for online poker sites. In the five U.S. states where poker sites are operating in a regulated environment, crypto poker sites are already starting to turn up. Again, the distributed ledger is seen as something of a guaranteed record of transactions, and doesn’t turn up on a credit card statement! If it really catches on, Bitcoin could be at the core of a massive international gaming industry.
There’s been a lot of buzz about crypto as a native application of the blockchain layer conceived as the foundation of web3. But for either Bitcoin or networks with smart contract functionality, immediately recognizable applications are going to do more for pushing up widespread adoption.