Year in review 2022
In 2022 Bitcoin has proven the one beacon of hope for a future where individuals take ownership into their own hands.
In the midst of uncertainty, turbulence and instability, Bitcoin offers safety, refuge and hope. While it’s been a difficult year for many, there is no doubt that bitcoin is stronger than ever. Bitcoin is a beacon for those escaping the fallout of collapsing centralized systems, and adoption has surged as the use cases for bitcoin become more evident globally.
Many are faced with unimaginable difficulties in the current state of the world but, despite these, the rapid growth in bitcoin adoption is proof that it is serving its purpose to empower individuals through self-sovereignty. Let’s reflect on the impact Bitcoin has had in 2022.
When the war in Ukraine started in early February, its citizens needed urgent military and humanitarian aid. The Ukrainian government quickly reached out to the crypto community to start accepting donations and within two weeks, over $54 million in cryptocurrency donations had been sent to Ukraine. This month Strike, a digital payments platform built on Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, announced that it has partnered with Bitnob to enable lightning-fast and cheaper money transfers between the US and Africa.
Those in urgent need are turning to bitcoin more and more often as it is censorship-resistant, permissionless, and can be transferred within minutes as opposed to the days or weeks that would be needed when transferring euros, dollars and the like.
In December, Ghana hosted Africa’s first bitcoin conference featuring over 70 speakers and hundreds of guests. The resounding message was clear, as Obi Nwosu said, “Africa only wins with Bitcoin and Bitcoin only wins with Africa.” If there is any place that understands the need and immediate use case for bitcoin, it is in Africa.
Self-custody is a luxury not everyone can afford, but third-party custody is based on blind trust. African bitcoiners have created another option: Fedimint is open-source community custody run by trusted members of a community. While developed countries are moving straight to self-custody, a federated system allows for bitcoiners in the global south to set up custody models that meet the needs of their community. Fedimint’s first public signet launched in September.
In Kenya, Gridless are aiming to use the bitcoin network to solve social and environmental issues. Launched this year, Gridless design, build and operate renewable energy plants to power bitcoin mining, which will also provide thousands of households with affordable electricity. They currently have five pilot projects powered by hydroelectric energy in rural Kenya and with the recent $2 million seed investment promised by Stillmark and Block, they hope to bring new energy infrastructures to more communities.
Freedom fighters and bitcoiners came together at Oslo Freedom Forum 2022 to learn and discuss how bitcoin can be used as a powerful aid in fighting against injustice. Discussions featured Nic Carter on how bitcoin is the world’s only depoliticized monetary system, Roya Mahboob on how bitcoin gives financial rights to women, Farida Nabourema on why the struggle for human rights needs to include financial rights, Mauricio di Bartolomeo on why people turn to bitcoin when money collapses in their country and more.
A number of community projects are also working to give the unbanked a chance to save and participate in the global economy. Bitcoin Ekasi gave an update on how their circular economy in a South African Township is doing a year after it started: through bitcoin donations they’ve launched a kid’s rewards program, appointed a full-time bitcoin educator in the community and they’ve employed an an additional senior coach and lifeguards to keep the community safe.
Bitcoin Beach, the world’s first bitcoin circular economy started in 2019, served as inspiration for not only Bitcoin Ekasi but also El Salvador, the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender in 2021, the Central African Republic, the second country to adopt bitcoin earlier this year, and Brazil, which approved a bill regulating the use of bitcoin as payment last month.
Just as a small spark can start a fire, a small community project went on to inspire entire nations to start using bitcoin.
Considering the rapid onboarding and development, it’s incredible to think that bitcoin is only 13 years old. But it’s important to stay humble, as there’s no doubt that there’s a lot left to learn. Bitcoin forces us to rethink everything we’ve taken for granted when it comes to money: what money is, how it’s made, what it can do for us and how to best protect it. Whether your interests are sparked by the technology, wealth, or the freedom of self-sovereignty, we all need to do our due diligence and learn from the many mistakes repeated in 2022.
This year has seen the fall of multiple crypto companies and exchanges. The decline of FTX, BlockFi, Three Arrows Capital, Voyager digital, Celsius Network, TerraUSD, Luna and more have resulted in great financial loss for many and also, unfortunately, given bitcoin a bad rep. On further investigation you’ll find that it wasn’t bitcoin that was at fault, but rather giving too much power and trust to exchanges.
On top of that, 2022 had 6 of the 12 biggest crypto heists in history: Ronin Network (a gaming-based crypto networked) lost $620million in a hack in March, and hackers also attempted to steal $570million from Binance in October. Soon after declaring bankruptcy in November, FTX also reported $477million stolen, though the suspicion for that lies heavily on insiders.
With new and different forms of hacks, frauds and other online attacks threatening users every day, there are two things that are essential to protecting yourself and your assets: Firstly, the technology used to buy, manage and store bitcoin should be secure, private, and easy to use. More bitcoin has been lost to human error than malicious attack, so at Trezor we’re dedicated to enhancing usability, security and privacy simultaneously.
Secondly, the user needs to take control and the first step towards doing so is through understanding why self-custody is essential. Satoshi Nakamoto stated that “the root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work.” So why trust others to look after your assets when you can do it yourself?
There is only one sure way to protect your assets from hacks, theft and the fall of exchanges. And that is secure self-custody.
Bitcoin can be life-changing but we also recognize that it can be intimidating. Fortunately bitcoin, and the technology we need to use it, is getting safer, better and more user-friendly every year.
Hardships can give us wonderful lessons, which for many this year has brought the needed motivation to take custody. In fact, we have some hardships to thank for creating the world’s first hardware wallet: back in 2012 our co-founder, Marek “Slush” Platinus’ mining pool lost over 3000 bitcoin in the Linode hack. Fortunately, soon after this he met Pavol “Stick” Rusnak and they were hooked on the idea of creating a secure and intuitive cryptocurrency storage solution to create and keep keys offline. In 2012 the first Trezor commit had been made, and we’re proud to say that 10 years later, we’re still open source, still self-funded and still dedicated to securing self-sovereignty for all.
For those that need fast financial aid to protect themselves in the face of war, there is bitcoin. For those that put their lives on the line to protest for what they believe in while their respective governments may try to censor and restrict them, there is bitcoin. For those that dream of participating in the global economy but are denied a bank account, there is bitcoin.
The sheer scale of this year’s implosive events has brought its own wisdom. The aspects of cryptocurrency hyped up by venture capitalists are not what matters in this revolution. It is the spread of privacy-preserving, global, censor-resistant money that matters to the good of the world. And from that perspective, it’s been a very good year.