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Crypto adoption will kick into high gear over the next decade, says Coinbase protocols lead Jesse Pollak, who predicts that the vast majority of people on Earth will come on-chain during that span.
“Our feeling is that there’s so much growth ahead of us,” Pollak told Decrypt at EthCC in Paris on Wednesday. “We have less than 10 million people on-chain today. There’s going to be 8 billion people on-chain over the next decade.”
Pollak’s projection represents an ambitious target for blockchain tech, which in 2023 resembles a nascent corner of the finance industry—still trying to find its legs among the mainstream after several high-profile blowups and falling prices dented its image the year before.
8 billion users on-chain would also represent a dominant slice of humanity—effectively Earth's population today. According to estimates from the United Nations, Earth’s population could reach 8.5 billion by 2030.
At the same time, not everyone uses the internet, even if its presence is ubiquitous for those within crypto circles. There are currently 5 billion internet users worldwide, according to data from Statista.
“I think it's happening right before our eyes,” Pollak said of crypto adoption at scale, adding the technology will progressively “change billions of people’s lives.”
“Everyone's going to finally be put on a level playing field, where they get access to the same products and services, regardless of where they were born or where they live,” he said, describing on-chain services as “fundamentally global by default.”
Coinbase itself—the leading crypto exchange in the U.S.—averaged around 8.4 million monthly transacting users in its first fiscal quarter of this year, a 9% drop from the same period a year ago, according to an SEC filing.
Coinbase has already signaled that one of its goals is to eventually bring 1 billion people into the crypto fold. A research paper published by Deutsche Bank in 2020 said there could be 200 million crypto wallet users by 2030—mirroring the internet’s early growth.
One of Wall Street’s biggest banks believes mass crypto adoption is fast approaching too. Citi said in March a wave of crypto adoption will be driven by the tokenization of real-world assets and the rise of central bank digital currencies (CBDC).
Pollak is in charge of Coinbase’s efforts regarding Base, the exchange’s Ethereum-focussed layer-2 blockchain unveiled in February. A core component of Coinbase’s climb to 1 billion users will be leveraging crypto as an app platform.
Pollak said the company’s thesis with Base, which improves on the cost and efficiency of Ethereum transactions using Optimism’s OP Stack, is the network will widen what people can do on-chain while tapping the firm.
“It's really all about increasing the number of things people can do, so people have more opportunities to use Coinbase,” he said. “It's not just speculation and trading, it's also art, music, gaming, and other consumer products.”