Mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies just got a boost. MetaMask has announced that the popular crypto wallet will now support direct digital asset purchases with debit and credit cards by way of Apple Pay.

There is no doubt that we are facing an important step. A representation of what we all know (and what few try to ignore): cryptocurrencies are here to stay. So now is the time to get serious when we talk about them, when we analyze them and when we invest in them.

Cryptos are still not entrenched in everyday life, it’s true, and perhaps they may never be fully entrenched just as they may not be ubiquitous in the financial ecosystem, or an essential piece of the average American’s investment portfolio. But they are well on their way to eventually becoming all three, with other countries catching on more quickly.

Let’s take a graph: 41% of Brazilians and Indonesians own cryptocurrencies, above 30 in Singapore and the UAE. Crypto proponents have long argued that places with weak financial systems would benefit most from blockchain technology. While uptake outside the developed world has been slow, new data from the crypto exchange Gemini suggests that might be changing. “Forty-one percent of crypto owners surveyed globally purchased crypto for the first time in 2021,” says the Global State of Crypto report for 2022.

It’s not wrong to talk about cryptocurrencies now as the stock market of Internet companies in the 1990s, Brad Dale wrote on Axios: back then, many looked at them with skepticism, those who didn’t cash in six-figure dividends. The Gemini’s report called 2021 crypto’s “breakout year.” The value of Bitcoin, along with that of the entire cryptocurrency market, continues to rise, and the market value of the cryptocurrency asset class is an indicator of interest, demand, and adoption. Cryptocurrencies are already worth at least $2 trillion.

At this stage the foundations are being laid for the years to come, we are in the flow, but not in the full flow – quite the contrary. One of the big issues is regulation. Places like India, the US, and the EU are moving to tax them heavily; China has already made moves. Some regulators are also considering treating virtually all crypto assets as securities, which could exclude many people and limit utility.

At this stage the foundations are being laid for the years to come, we are in the flow, but not in the full flow – quite the contrary. One of the big issues is regulation. Places like India, the US, and the EU are moving to tax them heavily; China has already made moves. Regulators are also considering treating virtually all crypto assets as securities, which could exclude many people and limit utility.

However, beyond any doubt, there are many developments ahead of us that will affect the cryptocurrency world – which will certainly be part of the everyday world of a large percentage of the global population.

One sign that this world is evolving and is not going to stop (at least not in the medium term) is the amount of investment that is moving into it. Near just secured a new $350 million investment from heavyweight investors, representing a giant bet on fast blockchains and a potential future challenge to Ethereum, the world’s second-largest blockchain.

Well, that’s a lot of money, right? It’s a bet on super fast and cheap transactions in a decentralized fashion. Users follow apps, not infrastructure. This funding will enable more use cases — likely particularly in lending, trading, and risk management — for people to use, powered by the Near blockchain.

Like Ethereum, Near can run code (“smart contracts”) as well as transactions, but Ethereum is slow, befuddling, and expensive to use. So, the market has shown a hunger for an alternative. Both Near and Ether have unstoppable network effects. But just like no region in the U.S. is likely to ever unseat Silicon Valley as the top tech hub, don’t look for any of its imitators to unseat Ethereum.