Internet Trends Report 2018: “Exploding” Interest in Crypto

Avi Rosten
  • The annual report which "tells stories of business-related trends" - identified a massive increase in cryptocurrency interest
  • The report also showed that bitcoin was a popular topic at university

Venture capitalist Mary Meeker’s popular annual Internet Trends Report has this year identified an “exploding” interest in cryptocurrency.

Compiled in conjunction with venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Partners and Hillhouse Capital, the 294-page report focuses on “trends around data” to “tell stories of business-related trends.”

Of particular interest, the report showed that academic interest in cryptocurrency hit a new high in 2017 - with a Princeton course on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies ranking in the top 10 most popular university courses for the year.

 

Meeker’s report looked at some interesting stats to illustrate the increase in cryptocurrency interest: data from Coinbase shows their user numbers increasing nearly fourfold between January and December 2017.

coinbase users.png

The chart also shows a particular spike in the frenetic autumn period when bitcoin and other top cryptocurrencies rose rapidly - although the chart fails to include the figures for coinbase membership during December when bitcoin reached its all-time high of $20,000.

Moving into the Mainstream

Coinbase have arguably been instrumental in the penetration of cryptocurrency into the mainstream - in particular for retail investors. One of the few exchanges to offer fiat pairings with top cryptocurrencies, the exchange and wallet provider has name recognition that extends beyond the confines of the crypto-world.

With reports released today confirming that Bittrex are set to offer Bitcoin US Dollar trading on their exchange - recent moves by other exchanges towards offering fiat pairings will no doubt increase this movement towards mainstream recognition.

Zuckerberg Says Libra Can Boost Facebook's Ad Revenue, China Sees It as a Much Bigger Deal

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has, during a shareholder meeting, explained how the Libra cryptocurrency project will help the social media giant make money. China, on the other hand, published a book addressing the challenges Libra poses, arguing it could become the future of world currency.

In a transcript posted by Thomson Reuters, we can read Zuckerberg replied to a question asked by a shareholder on how Facebook will be making money off of the Libra cryptocurrency project. Zuckerberg responded by going into Libra’s potential impact on e-commerce on Facebook, and its potential impact on advertising revenue.

According to the social media giant’s CEO, Facebook does not charge a set price for ads and instead works with a bidding system, where every business trying to advertise will bid to compete for ad space. The system, Zuckerberg said, allows them to get the “lowest possible price.”

He added that combining ads with an effective payment tool such as Libra can benefit businesses further as it could make commerce more efficient:

If we can make commerce be more effective for businesses if when they run an ad, somebody who clicks on that ad is now going to be more likely to buy something because they actually have a form of payment that works that’s on file.

Advertising on Facebook, as such, becomes more worthwhile for businesses, which could in turn see them bid higher on ads and increase overall ad prices. This would effectively boost Facebook’s 0s advertising revenue.

Zuckerberg also reiterated other advantages of Libra, pointing out the payments infrastructure “hasn’t been updated in a very long time.” China, which has plans to launch its own digital currency called DCEP, sees Libra as more than a way for Facebook to make money.

Libra Could Hit China’s Efforts to Increase Yuan Influence

In a book published by the Central Party School of China to educate government officials on digital currency and propose policy measures to deal with emerging challenges like the Libra project, experts argue the latter is an excellent example of a public-private partnership and has the potential to become the future of world currency.

This would mean, according to the book titled “Discussing Digital Currency with Leading Officials,” that Libra could get in the way of the Chinese government’s attempt to increase the influence of the yuan.

Hongzhang Wang, former chairman of the China Construction Bank and one of the authors on the book’s preface, said in a recent article:

China originally relied on mobile payment to get ahead, but now Libra has the potential to change the game again.

Wang added that this would allow companies in the U.S. to build a digital currency system that could “threaten or even surpass” Alipay and WeChat Pay using blockchain technology.

Featured image via Unsplash.