Coinbase Logo

Crypto's record-breaking year, in numbers

Crypto's record-breaking year, in numbers

After a record year for the cryptoeconomy, many are planning to gift crypto during the holidays. We’ll show you how to do it. [Andriy Onufriyenko via Getty Images]

There’s never a dull moment on the blockchain. Here’s what you need to know this week:

Crypto’s historic year, by the numbers. We’re reviewing the most eye-popping stats behind crypto’s biggest year ever.

How to gift crypto this holiday. Looking for a last-minute present? Crypto is the perfect virtual stocking stuffer.


The blockbuster numbers behind crypto’s record-breaking year

In 2021, crypto officially entered the mainstream as Bitcoin and Ethereum (and many more) hit new all-time highs. Along the way, the acronym “NFT” rocketed from obscurity to Collins Dictionary’s Word of the Year, El Salvador became the first country to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender, and Elon Musk took his Dogecoin cheerleading from Twitter to Saturday Night Live — just months after Tesla added $1.5 billion worth of BTC to its balance sheet. This week, we’re taking a look back at the numbers that tell the story of crypto’s biggest, busiest year ever.

$3 trillion

Total value of the cryptocurrency market during November’s all-time high. At the time, Bitcoin’s price approached $69,000 and Ethereum came close to $4,900. This week, the market hovers closer to $2.2 trillion, but crypto remains one of the best-performing asset classes of 2021.

$240 billion

Total amount deposited into DeFi — the vast network of apps and protocols that enable decentralized lending, borrowing, NFT buying, crypto swapping, and more. While Ethereum hosts the majority of DeFi’s global peer-to-peer activity, rival blockchains like Solana and Avalanche made significant inroads this year by offering speedier transaction times and cheaper network fees.

$30 billion

Amount of venture capital funding that poured into crypto startups and projects this year — more than the previous decade of crypto-space funding combined.

$1 billion

Single-day trade volume of the first U.S. Bitcoin futures ETF when it hit the New York Stock Exchange in October  — making it one of the top ETF debuts in history. The ETF holds bitcoin futures contracts, which are bundles of agreements to buy BTC in the future at a specific price. Despite more than a dozen applications, the SEC has yet to approve a “spot” BTC ETF, which would hold the cryptocurrency directly.

200 million

Number of global crypto users as of mid-2021 — a 100% increase from the beginning of the year. As Coinbase’s Q3 shareholder letter noted, “the crypto adoption curve over its first decade is mirroring that of Internet adoption over a similar time period beginning in the late 1990s.”

$69 million

Price paid for Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days” NFT at a Christie’s auction in March, launching NFTs into the mainstream. But that figure is dwarfed by the total sales achieved by the biggest NFT collectibles and games — including Axie Infinity ($3.7 billion), CryptoPunks ($1.8 billion), Art Blocks ($1.1 billion), Bored Ape Yacht Club ($890 million), and NBA Top Shot ($800 million).


Number of crypto wallets that contributed funds to ConstitutionDAO — a group of internet strangers that raised $47 million in an attempt to buy a rare copy of the U.S. Constitution at a Sotheby’s auction in November. The group’s “WAGBTC” goal was foiled after billionaire hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin outbid the DAO.


Percentage increase of Dogecoin between the first day of 2021 and it’s May 7 all-time high — the day before “Dogefather” Elon Musk hosted Saturday Night Live. While DOGE has trended downward since Musk’s SNL appearance (it’s still up 4000% for the year), the joke-based crypto kicked off a frenzy for memecoins like SHIBA INU.


Approximate value of BTC mined via El Salvador’s volcano-powered “Volcanode” during an October test, a month after the country became the first to make Bitcoin legal tender. Miners in Iceland and Norway have long used geothermal power, which is a sustainable source of energy. 


Number of nations that are researching, developing, piloting, or launching their own “central bank digital currencies.” CBDCs are a completely digital version of government-issued money. Unlike Bitcoin, CBDCs are centralized legal tender, created and controlled by a government or central bank. Like Bitcoin, they can be used for fast and inexpensive global payments.


Percentage of Bitcoin mining power hosted in the U.S. as of August. Following China’s midyear mining crackdown, the industry has reestablished itself in regions from North America to Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, a record number of global computers (roughly 18,000 “nodes”) are operating Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, which enables faster, cheaper BTC transactions.


Age of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper as of October 31. Next month, on January 3, Bitcoin will celebrate the 13th anniversary of the first transaction ever recorded on the network. The message inscribed in the “Genesis Block'' referenced a newspaper headline about the Great Recession, a key factor in Bitcoin’s creation: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.


How to give crypto to friends and family for the holidays

According to a new survey of U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 65, around 10% plan to give crypto as a holiday gift this year — and about 75% of those people are planning to send BTC. (Sorry DOGE, maybe next year!) However, only 25% of those surveyed actually know how to send some crypto as a holiday present. Maybe you’re curious too? Or just need some last-minute gift ideas? Either way, we have you covered. 

  • Around 65% of Americans are interested in receiving financial investments as gifts this year — here’s how to give some crypto. Log in to your Coinbase account and choose Send a gift on the left side of your screen (in the app, tap the menu icon to see it). Even if the person you’re gifting doesn’t have a Coinbase account, you can still send crypto to their email address. They’ll get a sleek digital gift card with NFT-inspired art, along with instructions for claiming their present.

  • Because each one is unique, NFTs make excellent gifts. For sneakerheads, consider a streetwear-adjacent NFT collection like Adam Bomb Squad. If someone you love is an NBA superfan, you might want to send them a pack from NBA TopShot. For tech-forward friends and family, think about grabbing an ENS address, which is a domain name that represents your Ethereum wallet address —  kind of like the Web3 version of a cool Gmail address or website domain. Here’s how to buy one.

Why it matters… As crypto has become a mainstream preoccupation, giving represents a major opportunity for the space — with the potential for millions of people to begin their crypto journey in the next couple of weeks. It’s a trend driven by younger traders: Gen Z survey respondents were two times more likely than other demographics to have already given crypto as a gift to friends and family. And, according to CNBC, many Gen Z and millennial crypto fans are planning “to spend thousands of dollars” on blockchain-based gifts like ENS addresses and NFTs. 


Learn cybersecurity tips from Coinbase experts

Now that you’ve gifted your friends and family their inaugural crypto stash, make sure to help them brush up on their cybersecurity hygiene. On this week’s episode of Around The Block — Coinbase’s weekly podcast — Coinbase Ventures’ Justin Mart and Katherine Wu break down the essentials of crypto security, and offer simple tips to protect your crypto, your wallet, and all your online accounts.


What is crypto staking?


Way to secure a crypto tent


Way to invest in NFTs with other fans


Way to earn rewards for helping to secure certain blockchains


Way that new BTC is created

Find the answer below.

Trivia Answer


Way to earn rewards for helping to secure certain blockchains