May of last year had some in the crypto market concerned. Lots of sideways trading, bitcoin’s slump from $60,000 to $30,000 and a Chinese crackdown brought question marks and FUD. As everyone wondered where crypto was heading next, it was news of Amazon and Walmart entering the space that seemed to give the market back its luster. Bitcoin went on towards $40,000 and then soared to a new all-time high.
We’ve seen this kind of pattern before. Here’s how it’s playing out today…
Corporate heavyweights investigating crypto
The current bearish stretch in the crypto market may have a different feel to it. A lot fewer people seem convinced the sell-off will last. Based on the hype surrounding NFTs and the Metaverse alone, they may be onto something.
So it’s fitting that we’re now once again hearing about Walmart’s ventures into the crypto space, this time with more detail.
What was previously only news of a job opening for a crypto expert is now an effort that, in the words of trademark attorney Josh Gerben, is “super intense.”
Three weeks ago, Walmart filed applications for a range of trademarks and patents, including:
- Their own virtual currency
- “virtual goods, including electronics home decorations, toys, sporting goods and personal care products”
It can be easy to get carried away with speculation in cases like these, so let’s stick to the facts. It looks as if Walmart (and many other retailers) might be planning to use cryptocurrencies, virtual products and NFTs to make their e-commerce more effective.
That’s a big deal! Currently, Walmart accounts for $43 billion in ecommerce sales in the U.S. last year. Another way of looking at this: Walmart collected over ¼ of all “click and collect” (or buy online for in-store pick-up) orders in 2021. In-store pick-up sales turn Walmart’s massive retail footprint into a benefit, rather than a costly liability, against the ecommerce juggernaut Amazon.
Walmart is certainly a huge name in ecommerce. Any efforts they make to capture a share of the cryptocurrency marketplace will no doubt attract further interest and drive further adoption among both individuals and companies.
And Walmart isn’t alone…
Corporate NFT debuts and Nikeland
How much of the future of ecommerce is virtual?
The successful sales of Under Armour and adidas‘ NFTs debuts point to serious expansion in the virtual collectibles space. Not to be outdone, Crocs and Prada have recently announced NFT ventures. The bandwagon is getting crowded. Some, possibly many, of these corporate NFT forays will fail to excite interest, let alone selling out in under a minute (like adidas did). However, they do stimulate curiosity, get attention and inspire adoption. (Imagine the entire S&P 500 evangelizing blockchain – what might that do for the marketplace?)
Nike went even farther by announcing the launch of its own metaverse named, no doubt based on dozens of meetings and focus group sessions, “Nikeland.” What’s their goal, their purpose? Is this just a grand expression of the dreaded corporate GMOOT (when your boss tells you, “Get me one of those”) or the start of something bigger, self-sustaining?
Here is where one might get carried away with assumptions yet again.
Sticking to the “what we know,” Gerben explained that these companies are making sure their brands are etched in both the crypto space and, even more interestingly, the consensual visual hallucination everyone’s calling the metaverse these days.
Gerben also drew a curious comparison to e-commerce itself. Many retailers were late getting involved in online shopping and are afraid to make the same mistake with crypto. Are you old enough to remember when ordering something on a computer was considered risky and weird rather than commonplace?
If not, it might be hard for you to imagine a world where online shopping doesn’t exist. What did people do?
If you can remember the days before online shopping, consider how many voices dismissed it. How many retail consultants did we see on TV assure us that no one would ever buy clothes online. That America’s malls were beloved institutions that would surely endure for centuries.
So what does all this mean for cryptocurrencies? Simply this: Every revolution has its own FUD. Any disruption of business-as-usual will always be met by entrenched interests who treasure (and profit from) the old ways. No change, however trivial, proceeds without criticism and second-guessing and doubt.
And the bigger the change, the more vocal its opponents.
Crypto finds itself in one of its most interesting bearish stretches to date. Prices are down, but investment and development are soaring. Retailers, which many believe helped reverse the previous bear run from rumors alone, are making big bets on cryptocurrencies.
Those who have followed the crypto market with any perspective beyond daily price changes (in other words, long-term crypto investors) don’t need to be told how this bodes for the space. But they are undoubtedly waiting to see if the Metaverse and NFT hype persists and launches crypto far past the most bullish expectations.