Catching Up With Crypto: Big Events in Crypto Since the Start of 2021

From NFT record sales and crypto all-time highs to dramatic collapses and regulatory scrutiny, discover all the big events in crypto since early 2021.

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From NFT record sales and crypto all-time highs to dramatic collapses and regulatory scrutiny, discover all the big events in crypto since early 2021.

The world of cryptocurrency is an exciting market with plenty of financial opportunities. And being the fast-paced environment that it is, anyone looking to exploit these opportunities will benefit from understanding all the major events that have defined crypto in recent times.

So, what happened between 2021 and now?

2021

2021 was a big year for crypto, just like 2024 is promising to be. It was marked by the explosion of new digital asset classes amid increased institutional and regulatory interest in cryptocurrencies. Here are notable developments from the year: 

Bitcoin prices from January - November 2021. Read the full article on catching up with crypto to get a full idea of the big events in Crypto since the end of 2020.

Early 2021: Institutional Interest

BTC Price: $30,000

2021 kicked off a cryptocurrency market that was steadily gaining momentum. This spiked interest in crypto, particularly Bitcoin (BTC). Some institutions went as far as investing in the asset. 

One of the most publicized actions was Tesla, whose billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, is a known admirer of crypto technologies. In February, Musk announced a $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin. He also mentioned that the company would begin accepting BTC for payments. 

Microstrategy, a business intelligence software company, also invested in BTC. After splashing $250 million in BTC purchases in August 2020, the company maintained its aggressive approach into 2021. Beginning in January, it would acquire BTC throughout 2021, closing the year with approximately 124,391 bitcoins.  

At the same time, financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley began offering crypto-related services.

February 2021: Meme Coin Frenzy

BTC price: $45,000

Early 2021 also saw the ‘rise of the meme coin.’ A meme coin is a crypto token created around an internet meme/joke. With enough hype, such coins can grow into truly massive movements, which is what happened in 2021.  

Remember Elon Musk? Well, he would play a huge role in this.  On February 4, 2021, Elon tweeted “Doge,” and subsequently, “Dogecoin is the people’s crypto.” These and one more tweet a few days later sparked a lot of excitement in Dogecoin (DOGE), causing a significant spike in the asset’s price. 

Whatever hype DOGE drew from these endorsements later spilled over into other meme coins. This became the beginning of a meme coin frenzy. 

March 2021: Beeples NFT Sale Kicks Off NFT Frenzy

BTC Price: $57,000

While one side of the crypto market was going wild with dog memes, a lesser-known side was just about to break into the limelight. 

Beeple is one of the most popular digital artists. On March 11, 2021, he sold a piece – “Everydays: The First 500 Days” –  for a record-breaking $69.3 million. Art going for exorbitant prices is not a new thing. What was new in this case was what the art was sold as: an NFT. 

An NFT, or non-fungible token, is a unique digital asset that can’t be directly exchanged for something identical. NFTs have been around from as far back as 2014. However, up until this sale – and even though they had started to draw some attention – they were only a small, obscure corner of the wider crypto space. 

Beeple’s $69.3-million-dollar sale was the turning point. It pushed NFTs and digital art to the mainstream, birthing a new revolution in the digital assets space.   

April 2021: Bitcoin’s Bull Run and First Peak

BTC Price: $65,000

Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” was paid for in cryptocurrency, specifically Ether (ETH). This added to the growing interest in cryptocurrencies.

There was also increased coverage in the mainstream media and a lot of new investors were getting drawn to the crypto market. The bull market had gathered momentum, shown by growing crypto prices, which had been rising since late 2020. 

Bitcoin (BTC), which is the most valuable and most popular crypto asset, saw a dramatic price increase that culminated in an all-time high price of $62,807. Of course, everybody was excited. But that’s not all that BTC had in store for 2021. The best was yet to come.  

But before that…

May – June 2021: Market Correction and China Crackdown Intensifies

BTC Price: $55,000 – $30,000

The crypto market is synonymous with volatility. One moment, you’re shooting for the moon, the next, you’re plunging headfirst into a volcano. That’s the situation many investors found themselves in from May – June 2021. 

After the NFT boom and Bitcoin’s peak, the crypto market experienced a significant correction. BTC lost more than 50% of its value in two months, and most other coins followed suit. This trend was partly driven by the decision of many pre-bull run investors to sell (to secure their profits) after witnessing record highs.

Another reason was China’s increasingly harsh crackdown on cryptocurrencies. Chinese authorities had, in May, reiterated bans on financial companies providing crypto-related services. Then, in June, they intensified the crackdown on crypto mining, forcing major mining hubs in the country to shut down.

June 2021: El Salvador Announces Plans to Adopt BTC

BTC Price: $35,000

June 2021: El Salvador announces plans to adopt BTC. Read the full article on catching up with crypto to get the rest of the big events in Crypto since the end of 2020.

China’s full-blown war against cryptocurrencies had many worried about the future. However, that was only for a moment. Just across the Pacific, a young president with ambitious plans made what many considered a controversial announcement. 

On June 5, 2021, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador joined the Bitcoin Conference in Miami via video and announced a bill to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender in El Salvador. 

Four days later, the El Salvador parliament voted to adopt the Bitcoin Law that made BTC a legal tender in the country when it came into effect on September 7, 2021. 

July – November 2021: Market Recovery and Bull Run

BTC Price: $31,000 – $69,000

By July 19, 2021, Bitcoin’s price had fallen to around $31,000. In the face of such a drop and increased regulatory scrutiny, investors and pundits can be forgiven for assuming that this was the beginning of a bear market. 

However, the market had other plans. By August 1st, Bitcoin’s price had risen to just over $41,500. It was, in fact, the beginning of a bull run that would peak in November. 

This bull run saw most coins hit new all-time high (ATH) prices. BTC crossed $69,000, while ETH got to an ATH of $4,878. This trend was repeated across the market as many altcoins capitalized on the growing hype around cryptocurrencies. 

The NFT space also had its best months yet. NFT sales across decentralized markets exploded, peaking around the same time.   

July – November 2021: GameFi Bursts Into Mainstream

July - November 2021: GameFi bursts into mainstream. Read the full article on catching up with crypto to understand more of the big events in Crypto since the end of 2020.

This period also saw the emergence of another sector of crypto that had been underground for a couple of years: GameFi. 

GameFi is a paradigm in gaming that attempts to use blockchain technology to empower the player. Like NFTs, it had spent its first few years relegated to the farthest reaches of the crypto world. 

But with the bull market, gains of GameFi tokens like Axie Infinity’s AXS meant that the GameFi hype had begun. Games like Axie Infinity, Decentraland, and the Sandbox saw an influx of players and investors, pushing their token prices to all-time highs by November 2021. 

Late 2021: Downward Market Trend and Crypto Hacks

BTC price: $69,000 – $47,000

After peaking in mid-November, the crypto market began a downward trend. NFT sales plateaued, and as crypto geared up for a bear market, several hacks shook investor confidence. 

In December, the DeFi protocol BadgerDAO lost $120 million after hackers compromised the website’s front-end interface. The hacker was able to inject malicious code, which they then used to gain control of user funds. 

Cryptocurrency exchange BitMart was also hacked in the same month. It suffered a $196 million theft after hackers stole sensitive private keys. But that wasn’t the last of it. 

On December 12th, the Vulcan Forged NFT platform was targeted and successfully compromised. The hackers obtained the private keys of numerous wallets. As a result, the platform lost approximately $140 million. 

2022

Whew! A lot happened in 2021. However, 2022 would prove to be even more exciting (some might say disastrous). Here are the events that defined 2022 in crypto. 

Bitcoin prices from January - December 2022. Read the full article on catching up with crypto to get an understanding of the big events in Crypto since the end of 2020.

Early 2022: the Downward Trend Continues

BTC Price: $47,000 – $35,000

Bitcoin (BTC) opened 2022 at around the $47,000 mark. It had lost 32% of its value since its peak in November 2021. This was also the case for Ether (ETH) and other altcoins. 

In February, things seemed to change as prices rose briefly. It’s around this time that a now infamous ad aired during the Super Bowl. Featuring Larry David, the ad promoted what was an increasingly popular crypto exchange at the time, FTX. 

“Don’t miss out,” said the ad. However, anyone trying to join the market at this point had already missed out. The bull market was over and a downward trend had been established. The bear market was beginning to set in.

Terra (LUNA), the native currency of the Terra Network, was among the few assets doing better. In fact, as other assets went down, it continued climbing, nearly beating its previous ATH. LUNA also acted as the reserve currency for Terra’s algorithmic stablecoin, UST.  

March 2022: Ronin Network Hack

BTC Price: $39,000 – $47,000

On March 29th, 2022, the crypto world woke up to a shocking discovery: the Ronin Network had been hacked. 

Ronin is an Ethereum sidechain developed primarily for the blockchain game Axie Infinity. Its devastating hack was allegedly conducted by the Lazarus group, a hacker group associated with North Korea. It cost the network more than $600 million worth of ETH and USDC, making it one of the biggest crypto hacks ever. 

Even through this catastrophe, LUNA continued to rise. It beat its ATH going into April and maintained that trajectory, setting a new ATH of $119 on April 5th. TerraUSD (UST) had also grown into one of the largest stablecoins in the market.  

May 2022: Terra (LUNA) and UST Collapse

BTC Price: $38,000- $20,000

May 2022: Terra (LUNA) and UST collapse. Read the full article on catching up with crypto to get the rest of the big events in Crypto since the end of 2020.

As April 2022 came to a close, UST overtook Binance USD (BUSD) to become the third-largest stablecoin, behind USD Coin (USDC) and Tether (USDT). It had a market cap of more than $18.5 billion.

But on May 7th, things took a disastrous turn. A series of events amid a large UST sell-off put immense pressure on the Terra Network. This caused UST to de-peg from the dollar. 

Over the next couple of days, investors panic selling UST would cause further destabilization. Terra’s attempt to mint LUNA (UST’s reserve currency) to stabilize UST flooded the market with the asset, causing its value to crash. 

By the third week of May, LUNA’s value had fallen from $82 at the start of the month to $0.00011. UST had also failed to stabilize and was now worth less than a dime. 

With Bitcoin now trading at less than $30,000 and no signs of the downtrend slowing down, the space was gearing up for a crypto winter. And a long winter it would be. 

June 2022: The Contagion Spreads

The collapse of Terra’s (LUNA) algorithmic stablecoin was like a wave of contagion spreading throughout the crypto market. This is because many crypto institutions had significant exposure to LUNA or UST, causing direct losses when it collapsed.

Heavily exposed institutions like the hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC) and lending platforms Celsius and Voyager Digital faced massive losses and liquidity crises.  3AC and Voyager would eventually file for bankruptcy, while Celcius was forced to pause withdrawals.

This domino effect was fueled by the market’s interconnectedness, a lack of transparency around risks, and forced liquidations as prices fell.  It shook investor confidence, deepened the bear market, and amplified calls for increased scrutiny and regulation of cryptocurrencies.

July 2022: Terra Luna Rebrands to Terra Luna Classic 

By July, UST had completely lost its peg to the dollar and was effectively worthless. Overall confidence in the Terra ecosystem was severely damaged, and many investors and projects had abandoned the platform altogether. 

In a desperate attempt to compensate investors, a new Terra blockchain was launched with a new version of the LUNA token. The Terra blockchain became Terra Classic and LUNA was now Luna Classic (LUNC). The new LUNC tokens were airdropped to previous LUNA holders. 

While this did sustain a small community around the project, the damage had already been done. LUNC’s price remained significantly lower than LUNA’s heights just a few months earlier and many investors remained unwilling to place their faith in the project. 

September 2022: Ethereum Bellatrix Upgrade and The Merge, Arrest Warrant for Terra Founder Issued

BTC Price: $18,000 – $22,000

Ethereum’s blockchain is the biggest platform for decentralized finance (DeFi). However, since its creation in 2016, it had been a Proof-of-Work (PoW) blockchain.  PoW is an energy-intensive consensus mechanism that lowers transaction speeds and increases transaction costs. 

The Ethereum community wanted a faster, more efficient blockchain. Achieving this is partly reliant on having a different consensus mechanism. So, developers scheduled an update (called The Merge), which would change Ethereum’s consensus mechanism to Proof-of-Stake (PoS), which is a cheaper, more efficient alternative. 

In preparation for The Merge, the network underwent an upgrade (Bellatrix Upgrade) on September 6, 2022. The Merge came less than two weeks later, on September 15th. 

Just a day before the Merge, a South Korean court issued an arrest warrant for Do Kwon, the founder of the company behind Terra and UST. 

November 2022: FTX Collapses

BTC Price: $15,000 – $20,000

On November 2nd, 2022, a CoinDesk report exposing Alameda Research’s solvency issues was released. Alameda Research was FTX’s sister company. 

In response to this revelation, the CEO of Binance, one of FTX’s biggest competitors, announced his platform would sell all FTT (FTX’s native asset) tokens in its holding. 

This announcement, coupled with the CoinDesk report, stirred a panic that would see many FTX users attempt to pull funds from the exchange. Faced with too many withdrawal requests and a plunging FTT price, FTX was in a liquidity crisis. 

On November 8th, FTX announced it was freezing withdrawals. Three days later, the platform filed for bankruptcy. This collapse reverberated across the crypto space, causing cryptocurrency prices to fall even further. BTC fell below $16,000 for the first time since November 2020. 

Before this debacle, FTX’s founder and CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, or SBF, was a highly adored figure in mainstream media. By mid-December, he had been arrested in the Bahamas at the request of the US government.  

2023

2022 was a hard year for cryptocurrencies. So, coming into 2023, there was a good amount of fear in the market. Fortunately, it would prove to be a much better year. 

Bitcoin prices from January - December 2023. Read the full article on catching up with crypto to understand all of the big events in Crypto since the end of 2020.

Early 2023: Market Stabilizes

BTC Price: $16,600

The year started with a more stable market after FTX’s collapse. Prices would remain low with regular fluctuations. However, massive dips like the ones seen in the previous year didn’t occur. 

By April, the market was showing encouraging signs of recovery. 

April – June 2023: EU Parliament Passes Crypto Regulation, Blackrock Files for Spot ETF

BTC Price: $27,000

By spring 2023, the level of optimism and investor confidence in the market had increased. And things were looking even more promising. 

April kicked things off with the European Parliament voting in favor of the most comprehensive crypto regulation yet. Called the Markets in Crypto Act (MiCA), the legislation seeks to reduce consumer risk in the crypto market. 

MiCA passing intensified talks around crypto regulations. But for the first time in a long while, there was a positive tone. This further legitimized the crypto space in the eyes of financial institutions, some of whom decided to throw their hats in the game. 

Blackrock led the charge, applying for a spot Bitcoin ETF in June. This is an ETF that would give investors exposure to Bitcoin at its current, real-time price without directly owning the asset. More institutions followed suit in the following months.  

By this point, the market was well on its path to recovery as shown by Bitcoin crossing the $30,000 mark at the end of June. 

June 2023: Multichain Fiasco

BTC Price: $27,000

Multichain was a cross-chain protocol designed to facilitate asset transfers between blockchains. 

In June 2023, it unexpectedly ceased operations after the detention of Multichain’s CEO by Chinese authorities, which blocked the project’s access to critical funds and server resources. Users were unable to access an estimated $1.43 billion worth of assets locked within the protocol. At the end of what was an incredible fiasco, the protocol was forced to cease operations. 

October 2023: SBF Appears in Court

BTC Price: $35,000

As the market silently recovered, the next major event would come in October, with Sam Bankman-Fried being arraigned in court. The former FTX CEO took the stand in a New York court for seven counts of fraud. At the end of the trial in November, he was found guilty on all seven counts and scheduled to be sentenced on March 28th, 2024. 

December 2023: Bitcoin Crosses $40,000 Mark

The market looked healthy coming into December. For the first time in more than 20 months, BTC crossed the $40,000 Mark. 

2024

With rising crypto prices, 2024 opened with many expecting a big year in crypto. And things got off to a good start.  

January 2024: the SEC Approves ETF Applications

BTC Price: $41,000

After many delays, the SEC finally gave its decision regarding the spot Bitcoin ETF applications by Blackrock and several other firms. It gave the green light on 11 spot ETF applications. The news was received with a lot of excitement in the cryptocurrency world. 

23rd February to 3rd March 2024: ETH Denver

BTC Price: $51,000 – $61,000

ETHDenver 2024, the year of the Sporkwhale, took place between February 23rd and March 3rd. ETHDenver is an innovation festival held annually in Denver, Colorado. It is a community-owned event that celebrates “the convergence of blockchain technology, decentralization, education, community, and culture.”

28th March 2024: Sam Bankman-Fried Sentenced

On March 28th, 2024, disgraced FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison and three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $11 billion in forfeiture. 

On It Goes…

Overall, the cryptocurrency market has been on an upward trend since the start of 2024. With Bitcoin recently breaking its ATH and setting a new one at $72,733, many experts now believe that we are in a bull market. 

But if this chronicle has taught us anything, it is that every so often, a development occurs that changes the dynamics of the crypto market. This makes it imperative to keep an ear on the ground to stay updated on the latest developments and have an overall understanding of the ecosystem. 

So, for those interested in cryptocurrencies, we have created a Cryptionary that teaches all there is to learn about the space


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