Thu. Jan 21st, 2021

2020 has been an epic year for crypto and blockchain, but some did more than most to help spur adoption.

In future years, it’s possible that 2020 will be seen as a watershed moment for cryptocurrencies. When Black Thursday hit in March, it wiped billions off the markets in a matter of hours. Anyone would have been forgiven for thinking recovery would take years. 

But by December, Bitcoin (BTC) has gone on to achieve a new all-time high, breaking the $20,000 resistance and almost reaching $24,000 in the process. This has come at the end of the first year in Bitcoin’s history where it was tested against the backdrop of a global recession.

Indeed, 2020 has also seen active addresses approach 2017 levels, according to data from Glassnode. So, as much as speculation points to institutional investors as the reason for Bitcoin’s meteoric recovery, the data suggests that general adoption is on the rise.

This leads to a question: Which companies, governments and other entities have made the greatest contribution to cryptocurrency adoption in 2020? In no particular order, here are Cointelegraph’s top picks:

PayPal

When it emerged in late October that the payments industry behemoth was planning to integrate cryptocurrencies into its platform, the markets responded with gusto. PayPal’s news confirmed what many had been suspecting for some time, but the announcement came with a surprising cherry on top: PayPal also announced that from January, users would be able to spend cryptocurrency at any of its 26 million merchants.

It isn’t just Bitcoin that has benefitted from the news, which appears to be creating a positive reinforcement cycle for PayPal’s stock too. Shares in the company have risen by 17% over the months since its announcement. While users in the United States can already take advantage of the service, PayPal will launch crypto trading to all of its 300 million global user base starting from next year.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

The relationship between cryptocurrencies and U.S. regulators has long been a tense one. However, in July, things took a sudden u-turn when the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a memo providing the green light for banks to start offering cryptocurrency custodial services.

The move covers all national banks and federal savings associations, effectively removing a significant regulatory hurdle for cryptocurrency adoption in the country. Not only is this a critical development for retail holders of cryptocurrency, but it also paves the way for institutional adoption. Furthermore, banks no longer have a reason to refuse services to legitimate cryptocurrency service providers, assuming they’re prepared to comply with general Know Your Customer standards.

From a practical perspective, it will take some time for banks to install the necessary security policies and infrastructure for handling digital assets. Nevertheless, the actions of the OCC are a substantial leap in furthering crypto adoption in the United States.

Dow Jones S&P 500

Perhaps as a direct result of the OCC’s actions, and no doubt related to the ongoing bull market, it emerged in December thatWall Street was officially going in on digital assets. S&P Dow Jones Indices issued an announcement confirming it will debut cryptocurrency indices starting in 2021. The news comes thanks to a partnership with Lukka, a U.S.-based blockchain data provider.

It’s not yet clear which assets exactly will feature as part of the indices. However, with 550 cryptocurrencies in scope, it seems to be a fair bet that the vast majority of the top-ranking tokens will be included. The move could help to spur further institutional adoption of cryptocurrency, as more mainstream market infrastructure makes digital assets more accessible to Wall Street investors.

Mike Novogratz

The CEO of Galaxy Digital has perhaps done more than any other individual to advocate the adoption of Bitcoin this year. After his firm’s earnings showed a 75% year-on-year rise, he went on the record to state his belief that Bitcoin would go on to hit $65,000 after it exceeds its 2017 all-time high.

A few days later, he was back to recommend that everyone put 3% of their net worth into the asset and hold onto it until 2025. By early December, he upped the ante again, encouraging investors to put 5% of their portfolio into crypto.

Demonstrating he’s prepared to put his money where his mouth is, he also told CNN that he has 50% of his own net worth tied up in digital assets. A week or so later, Bitcoin soared through its previous all-time high.

Dave Portnoy

The founder of Barstool Sports has had an on-again-off-again relationship with cryptocurrencies for most of 2020. In August, Dave Portnoy, aka “Davey Day Trader,” invited the Winklevoss brothers to his house to teach him about Bitcoin. Following that, he started shilling alt coins, leading some members of crypto Twitter to start calling him out for his lack of experience. A day later, he claimed to be on the road to becoming a crypto millionaire.

After abandoning digital assets entirely, the capricious entrepreneur came back to Bitcoin a whole two weeks later, declaring this time that “my heart is crypto.”

Whether you were laughing or rolling your eyes, Portnoy’s antics undoubtedly helped to draw attention to cryptocurrencies. Therefore, his influence in adoption earns him a place on this list.

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