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12 key moments that fueled crypto’s record growth in 2021

It’s been a record year for the cryptocurrency market, which briefly surpassed $3 trillion in value in November. Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market value, and ether, the second-largest, hit all-time highs, while altcoins, like meme-inspired dogecoin, surged in popularity.

Other digital assets, like nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, sold for millions of dollars alongside fine art in major auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s. In addition to art, NFTs representing in-game assets and digital land soared in value as well.

Blockchain-based applications, including decentralized finance, or DeFi, garnered interest from both retail and institutional investors, pushing the growth of Web3, which is the decentralized iteration of the internet based on blockchain technology that powers NFTs and underpins cryptocurrencies.

All of this helped push cryptocurrency into the mainstream in 2021.

Though there were countless defining moments this year, here are 12 highlights.

1. Bitcoin surpassed $1 trillion in market value for the first time

2. Interest in NFTs exploded after Beeple’s $69 million sale

3. Elon Musk contributed to dogecoin’s record high

4. El Salvador adopted bitcoin as legal tender

5. Ethereum launched EIP-1559 and prepared for the merge to Eth2

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