Education: Crypto’s Conduit to Mainstream Adoption?

By Nikolai Kuznetsov

If knowledge is power, then crypto’s earliest adopters are blessed with riches and resources in equal measure. Those who had the perspicacity to buy Bitcoin before it was cool and to hold onto it through multi-year drawdowns are not just wealthy: they’re also highly financially literate.

But for crypto to demonstrate that it’s more than just a ponzi scheme that enriches its shrewd early adopters, it needs to give something to the next wave of bitcoiners. Otherwise, all the current crop of crypto-heads will be left nursing the coins of their antecedents who cashed out while the going was good.

For the last two years, “up only” was the mantra of crypto proponents who hoped that the boom and bust era was over, and that digital assets would never retest former lows again. That hope has proven misplaced; BTC is back under $20,000, from a high of $69,000 last November, while ETH is currently down 78% from its November high.

While prices languish in the doldrums, however, work continues apace to spread the gospel of crypto. A number of industry stalwarts have declared a mandate to grow adoption through the dissemination of knowledge. The key to onboarding the next 100 million users, they believe, isn’t hype or memes: it’s basic education.

Teach Them and They Will Come

For a long time, many within the cryptocurrency industry believed that institutional adoption was the key to going mainstream. Greater regulatory clarity, so the thinking went, would make it easier for traditional finance to enter the space. This in turn would open the floodgates for family offices, SMEs, banks, and retail to follow suit. Once bitcoin had been legitimized as an asset class, the masses would follow, turning BTC into the world’s unofficial reserve currency and dragging up all other digital assets with it.

A lot has happened since that thinking was first floated in 2017, at the height of the previous bull market. Institutions have entered the industry; nation states have legalized bitcoin; and major banks have begun accepting BTC deposits on behalf of their customers. Stocks trading apps now support crypto, celebs flaunt their NFTs on social media, and sports stars receive their salary in bitcoin.

And yet, for all the progress that crypto has made in permeating mainstream consciousness, its reputed benefits have yet to trickle down to the average man and woman on the street. In fact, many of those who could benefit the most from a yield-bearing, censorship-resistant store of wealth have lost out through the collapse of crypto platforms such as Celsius and the failed UST stablecoin. Convincing people who have already been burned once that they shouldn’t blame crypto for a few bad apples won’t be easy.

Teaching the difference between permissioned and permissionless systems, and between legitimate and illegitimate cryptocurrency projects, is no mean feat. But a number of crypto companies have taken it upon themselves to do just that. Through advancing financial literacy, they’re confident that they can empower ordinary people to capitalize on the many opportunities that crypto has to offer – while also mitigating its downsides.

The Rise of Learn-to-Earn

Coinbase and Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, deserve much of the credit for fostering crypto education. The former’s Earn platform and the latter’s eponymous Academy are replete with resources on all things crypto, from the use cases for specific tokens to the way blockchains work. In the case of Coinbase Earn, there’s even been small amounts of crypto awarded to participants for completing modules and correctly answering questions.

That educational baton has now been taken up by Revolut, the UK-based financial app that boasts over 18 million users and supports 80 cryptocurrencies. This week, it launched Learn & Earn, an initiative designed to raise awareness of crypto and the many ways in which it can be used. Thanks to a collaboration with Polkadot, the blockchain ecosystem created by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood, Revolut is giving away $15 of DOT cryptocurrency to participants who complete its second course.

Pupils might come for the free crypto, but the hope is they’ll stay for the free financial education. And if some of those recipients use their newly acquired tokens to explore blockchain networks such as Polkadot, there’s a good chance they’ll stick around.

Crypto is an industry that’s constantly shifting as new use cases and trends come and go. For months, Play-to-Earn – the concept of earning cryptocurrency for playing blockchain-based games – has been all the rage. It would be premature to assert that Learn-to-Earn might be the next great trend in that vein. But if educational initiatives can teach newcomers how to retain and grow their wealth, they’ll have done more to advance the industry than perhaps any other narrative.

About the author:

Nikolai Kuznetsov is a financial analyst with extensive experience in the stock market, investment research and various assets such as cryptocurrencies, FX, commodities, equities and bonds, alongside educating traders as a teacher and a mentor. Nikolai has written for Forbes, TheNextWeb, and Cointelegraph. Follow him on LinkedIn

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.