Bitcoin, the blockchain, and cryptocurrency in general have become ubiquitous in just a short number of years, and none of it seems ready to go away anytime soon. After a year that saw record highs nearing $70,000 for the most valuable crypto, some experts expect more diversification in the alternative exchange landscape. With crypto seeing broader adoption, the focus on smart contract-enabled altcoins is expected to grow, with individual and institutional investments in Ethereum, Avalanche, Terra, and Polygon on the rise. Blockchains based on smart contracts could provide more intrinsic value over time and are seen as drivers of decentralized finance (DeFi) and the emerging web 3.0.
November 2021 saw the first significant upgrade to Bitcoin in four years, one that increases security, efficiency, and scalability while also introducing smart contract functionality. The Taproot update provides expanded utility for the coin, as well as a greater opportunity for the further expansion of this utility in the future. But Ethereum is already a popular alternative to Bitcoin and its developers are working to reduce its energy consumption by 95 percent, putting sustainability front of mind. Avalanche boasts advantages in speed and finality and is seen as a sustainable, long-term contender.