Cryptocurrency, Beyond Boom and Bust

Trends / Technology
Andriy Onufriyenko
Rebecca Rom-Frank & Gabrielle Pedro Fredrick
Aug 11, 2023
Cryptocurrency’s swift rise and even swifter fall continues to dominate headlines. Losses from crypto scams went from $907 million in 2021 to a whopping $2.57 billion in 2022,1 so it's unsurprising that just 8% of Americans still have a positive view of crypto.2 With FTX’s founder facing federal fraud charges3 and the SEC cracking down on Binance and Coinbase,4 why are we even still talking about visualizing crypto at all?

Our visual analysis shows that visualizing cryptocurrency is important to our Financial Services customers. However, 61% of the most popular visuals the Finance industry is using to represent cryptocurrency focus on investing scenarios. If there’s any longevity to these alternative currencies, sources indicate that it’s most likely to be found in idealism around Web3's idea of a decentralized internet fully built on blockchain‑based cryptocurrencies.5 Visualising these new uses is an interesting opportunity going forward.
Crypto’s role in the cashless economy
Despite all the meltdowns and scams associated with crypto, many FinTech companies are still incorporating it into their offering. Square and CashApp now sit under the umbrella of a brand called Block, which uses the type of gooey graphics with tertiary color palettes that we’ve identified are associated with Web3 and touts crypto as "more than an investment."6 Venmo just enabled crypto purchasing right in the app, and the graphics used to illustrate that part of the app are playful and fun without overpromising investment returns.7

Visuals which show crypto’s role in the cashless economy, such as facilitating payments and emphasizing trading assets within an online network are an opportunity to tell a wider story around crypto beyond rising stock or risky investing. Our consumer survey found that even in 2023, 50% of digital‑native Gen Z and Millennials feel confident they understand crypto, and think that it may replace regular banking in the future. So, setting a new tone for visualizing crypto can help a brand stand out and help educate consumers about the uses of crypto. Consider exploring conceptual visuals which use crypto symbols in unique ways to surprise the viewer, or which show the benefits of consumers engaging with this emerging technology, in order to encourage adoption. Also consider demonstrating the security benefits of blockchain technology—locks and keys are classic symbols of cybersecurity, but when remixed with the new aesthetics of emerging technology, they can feel fresh again. Additionally, visuals showing how crypto is mined in real life can help demystify the process for those who may want to understand it better.

Crypto's role in online communities 
While it is unclear whether Web3 will reach mass adoption, the technology is already being used in creative ways. For example, online communities have formed around NFT trading and crypto‑mining itself;8 play‑to‑earn online video games make crypto‑mining even more gamified,9 some New York City restaurants have even sold NFTs as tokens that grant diners exclusive access to dinners IRL,10 and artists are experimenting with its uses as a way to confirm authorship of digital works and potentially gain autonomy in the art market.11 In all of these cases, the value of crypto is not just monetary, it is also the entrée it grants users into various communities or clubs. So consider visuals which illustrate the feeling of entering a wondrous new online world, or which express the concept of decentralization through fresh graphic shapes and colors, or which capture the idealism of people coming together around a common object or goal.

Visualizing uses of crypto beyond boom‑and‑bust investing scenarios can better represent the state of crypto now and what early adopters foresee as its potential future benefits.
Visualising Financial Services