Who could have imagined a year ago how different our lives would be in just 12 months? Undoubtedly, November will remain an important point in human history last November – the time when it all began. Although ‘patient zero’ has not yet been confirmed – if it ever will – we now know that it all started in China on November 17, 2019, when the first patient reportedly showed symptoms of a new coronavirus disease called COVID. 19, according to the South China Morning Post with references to government data.
In January 2020, the city of Wuhan in central China was suffering from the vastly expanding COVID-19 epidemic, and ’41 hospitalized patients were found to have laboratory-confirmed ‘cases, according to a publication in The Lancet. Just two months later, in March, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. One by one, governments around the world closed their national borders, suspended public events and banned people’s gatherings. The conversation brought to light two terms that were rarely used before and have now been named 2020 words of the year by British Collins Dictionary: ‘lockdown’ and ‘social distancing’.
It is hard to imagine which areas of our lives have not been affected by these dramatic and tragic events, with the number of confirmed cases worldwide exceeding 55 million.
Despite everything, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has also had a positive impact on the world. European conservatism, which has long relied on the traditional financial system, was questioned as the pandemic forced Europeans to switch to cashless payments and cryptocurrencies. In fact, some say it has accelerated widespread adoption of crypto and DLT-based business solutions worldwide by changing people’s understanding of money.
Related: What the COVID-19 pandemic means for blockchain and crypto
In particular, the COVID-19 outbreak has propelled the Bitcoin Safe Harbor (BTC) story as central banks pushed an estimated $ 15 trillion in stimulus measures in an attempt to mitigate the pandemic’s effects on the global economy. Amid rising inflation numbers, people are turning to Bitcoin as the next inflation hedge.
Related: Not like before: debut in digital currency amid COVID-19
Meanwhile, in the name of public health, governments are starting COVID-19 tracking programs, raising serious concerns about privacy violations and the tightening grip of centralization in the process. It doesn’t stop there: Governments have also taken another step in eroding civilian autonomy through the development of central bank digital currencies, for which initiatives have been boosted worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. While experts see the solution for ensuring privacy in decentralized technologies, the question about too much promised decentralization remains open.
Nonetheless, the coronavirus outbreak has significantly changed everyone’s lives and created the new normal that we now live towards. Yet despite all the challenges we have faced economically, politically and socially since the beginning of the year, there is no doubt that the pandemic is propelling digital innovation and moving humanity forward twenty years in technological development.
It’s too early to tell when it’s all over as COVID-19 is still gaining speed. Now, a year after Wuhan’s first case, Cointelegraph has reached out to experts in blockchain technology and the crypto space for their views on how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the industry.
What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak had on the crypto space?
Asheesh Birla, General Manager of RippleNet:
COVID-19 exacerbated inequalities for many people without or under the bank, highlighting the gaps we have in our financial infrastructure, where those who have the least pay the most – on average, the cost to send $ 200 is $ 14 Despite the pandemic, people still have to send money to family and friends abroad. As a result, remittances have continued to increase in some of the largest corridors. For example, the US-to-Mexico corridor saw a significant increase in remittances from the start of the pandemic, with Mexico receiving $ 4.02 billion from overseas in March 2020, up 36% from March 2019. Ripple May help reduce the cost of money transfers. by using crypto and blockchain to make cross-border payments faster, cheaper and more reliable. One of Mexico’s leading exchanges, Bitso handles nearly 10% of total remittance flows from the US to Mexico through Ripple’s technology that uses XRP as its bridging currency. At the same time, there is more interest in the space than ever before, with major companies such as PayPal and Square placing their bets on crypto and pushing them to the mainstream. Validation of these companies has contributed to increased interest in the usefulness of cryptocurrencies and their ability to better serve their businesses and customers. “
Da Hongfei, founder of Neo, founder and CEO of OnChain:
“From my perspective, COVID-19 did not negatively impact the blockchain space – at least it increased demand for blockchain innovation and adoption. Exposing the weaknesses of our current paradigm, COVID-19 also highlighted the urgent need for blockchain technology. For example, COVID-19 demonstrated the shortcomings of the current centralized supply chain system and revealed its vulnerability and lack of flexibility. By leveraging blockchain, we can build a decentralized supply chain that can quickly identify and then distribute products based on the needs of a specific area. Likewise, blockchain technology could also be used to more efficiently detect and track infection cases while protecting patient privacy. In fact, we are already seeing this shift to blockchain at a time of uncertainty – more and more institutions and people are embracing Bitcoin as it is seen as a stable, mainstream asset in these troubled times. In any case, I believe that COVID-19 has firmly proven the need for not only blockchain, but also a truly digital and smart economy. Looking ahead, we need to break with our current paradigm to embrace a truly digitalized and globalized world that has the flexibility, agility and efficiency to thrive and thrive. “
Mike Belshe, CEO at BitGo:
“The economic turmoil resulting from our pandemic times is driving attitudes shifts and increased interest in digital assets. COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the adoption of and interest in crypto around the world. It is important to note that the determined effort of companies like ours to build a secure, compliant foundation allows for the influx of new crypto investors, including large institutional companies such as investment banks and large custodians. Fortunately, we are able to meet the moment thanks to all the hard work we have put into building a new monetary system over the past 10 years. Before COVID-19, most people didn’t pay as much attention to the economic factors that make Bitcoin relevant. Frankly, they didn’t have to. When you get returns from the stock market, you stick with what you know and don’t have to worry about anything new. But now, all that has changed with the pandemic – fiscal policies around the world are causing governments to print wild money, reduce its value and cause inflation. Investors now understand that they need to anticipate this. They ask a lot more questions and understand the rationale for Bitcoin’s thesis – that asset scarcity matters. Digital assets are a hedge against inflation and a safe store of value. Investment leaders such as Paul Tudor Jones, Stanley Druckemiller and Bill Miller show that Bitcoin is now an important part of any portfolio. This year has brought so much uncertainty, but people are feeling empowered to teach themselves what to do to get involved with crypto. All the building blocks are in place – compliance, custody, liquidity, portfolio management and portfolio technology, as well as tax tools – giving investors the tools they need to invest in digital assets. “
Preston Byrne, Partner at Byrne & Storm, PC:
“The most tangible impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on crypto has been the validation of crypto’s core thesis that our societies are fragile and that math, not men, is likely to provide a healthier foundation for future social organization. The dependence of virtually every major economy on fiscal and monetary stimulus to survive reinforced and broadened public perception of the weakness of fiat money and institutions. ‘Crypto’, so called, is a wide variety of beliefs and areas of interest, ranging from hard money to censorship resistance and secure communication. These technologies uniquely respond to social and business adaptation to stressors that have dominated the headlines for the past year, whether we’re talking ‘money printers go brr’, the ongoing exodus of major technology or widespread social unrest in the cities. “
Tim Draper, venture capitalist and well-known Bitcoin investor:
Many people who were stuck at home finally made the time to set up a Bitcoin wallet, but the real impact of Covid was that the lockdown was devastating for many families, and when the government pushed $ 13 trillion to try to create a Plaster on it made it clear that you’d rather keep Bitcoin than these diluted and dilutable dollars. I expect the ‘fiduciary duty’ to now include possession of bitcoin as a hedge against flooding and manipulation of government currency. “
These quotes have been edited and compressed.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the sole ones of the authors and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.