Not even five years ago, crypto and blockchain were still fairly little-known terms, reserved for a select group of techie early adopters who took to Reddit, Twitter, and Discord to talk about buying and selling cryptocurrency.
But this has now changed. From celebrities buying and selling NFTs, to major credit card providers like Visa offering crypto cards, it’s clear that crypto is officially a hot topic, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
If you’re stateside and watched the Super Bowl recently, this much is clear as Coinbase, eToro, and FTX took over the event’s coveted advertising spots. Coinbase’s ad, a simple QR code bouncing around the screen for 45 seconds, saw installs jump 309% week-over-week after the ad’s airing on February 13, and it continued to climb by another 286% the following day.
As blockchain booms, there’s been an explosion of new apps, exchanges, coins, and tech startups. And with it, increased demand for PR and communications support.
So, what do PR pros, especially those of us working in tech, need to know? First and foremost, it’s helpful to understand blockchain at a very simple level, its benefits, as well as current challenges for the sector.
I’ve heard a lot about crypto and blockchain, but what do these terms mean?
Let’s start with blockchain. A blockchain is a decentralised database where assets can be shared between parties securely and transparently, without the need for intermediaries like banks or traditional financial institutions. An asset can be defined as both tangible (money, cars) or intangible (intellectual property, copyrights).
IBM breaks down what this looks like in practice well in its blockchain 101:
“As each transaction occurs, it is recorded as a “block” of data. Each block is then connected to the ones before and after it. These blocks form a chain of data as an asset moves from place to place or ownership changes hands and transactions are blocked together in an irreversible chain: a blockchain.
Each additional block strengthens the verification of the previous block and hence the entire blockchain. This renders the blockchain tamper-evident, delivering the key strength of immutability.”
Cryptocurrencies are the most common assets exchanged on the blockchain. These digital currencies are created and stored electronically using encryption techniques to control the creation of monetary units and to verify the transfer of funds. The value of a cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin, Ether or Dogecoin) grows as more people invest in it. Its value can also be affected by its underlying technology, the integrity of the cryptographic code, and the decentralized network it sits on.
Is crypto the future of money?
Yes – many would argue. The traditional financial system is based on strict regulation and income requirements. Because of this, many people around the world struggle to gain access to it.
Cryptocurrencies offer cheaper, faster, and (sometimes) more secure payment options than traditional FS organizations, without the need to provide personal details. For example, lorry client Valora has created a mobile crypto wallet that enables low-cost borderless peer-to-peer payments. It also offers a way to hold funds without excessive fees, opening up new possibilities for those who’ve been unable to bank in the traditional finance system.
How is the narrative around blockchain changing?
Despite the immense number of opportunities on the horizon, there are still key challenges impacting the wider adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency. These include:
- Environmental concerns
All of these challenges affect the narrative surrounding blockchain and crypto. They’re important for PR and comms professionals to keep in mind as we help clients position themselves in a fast-changing market. They’re industry-wide challenges, but they’re also opportunities for us our clients to differentiate themselves from the competition, and to educate audiences on how the blockchain market is progressing.
Blockchain and crypto are very complex topics and we’ve only just scratched the surface. For PR pros working in this industry, it’s most important (like any segment of PR) to keep a keen eye on news and trends. These can change quickly, as what was relevant even a month ago in blockchain may no longer be trending.
Learn more about how we’re supporting companies operating in the blockchain space, or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.