Pew Research Center polled Americans for the last three years about their exposure. Since 2020, the percentage of Americans who “ever traded or invested in a cryptocurrency like bitcoin or ether”, has remained at around 16%. Pew wanted to know how people felt about crypto this spring. 88% of those who have heard about cryptocurrency are “not at all or very insecure” that it is reliable or secure. Only 6% express a high level of confidence.

The trust in crypto is low.

CoinDesk’s editorial team did not need a survey to know this. In December, we published our Most Important 2022 list which subjectively identified 50 individuals who defined the crypto year. The list included a large number of stories about scammers, hucksters, and sociopaths who drained customers’ savings. The list was released less than a week after the shocking and sudden collapse of FTX. This capped off a year full of scandals. Congress, the mainstream media, and the public have all responded by threatening to punish cryptocurrency.

It is not hard to see that 2022 will be the opposite of crypto. Crypto was created in 2009 as a solution to the broken financial system and was not invented to make sharks or charlatans wealthy. Bitcoin enabled peer-to-peer transfers, bypassing banks, which are slow, expensive and intrusive. Bitcoin solved the problem of a trusted intermediary, allowing transactions to be cheaper and quicker.

The CoinDesk Team set out to find projects which fulfill the crypto ethos by solving a specific problem. We brainstormed problems that crypto could solve. These quickly divided into two categories: problems in the crypto ecosystem and problems in general.

The team then evaluated the projects that were designed to address the problems identified. We selected 19 projects from a list that included more than 35. Some projects haven’t even launched, while others have existed for many years. The funding ranges from bootstrapped up to tens or even hundreds of millions, as well as undisclosed financial support from a parent project or foundation. These projects were not subject to many restrictions or limitations. There are many different types of crypto organizations (from startups to DAOs and major corporations). The crypto industry is relatively new, and its brands aren’t widely known despite their billion-dollar value.

The CoinDesk Team was looking for innovative ideas, persuasive proposals, or proof of success. They also wanted talented and committed people. The projects had to address real problems and provide solutions. The projects could not be just a crypto-version of a traditional financial product, for example, or something meant for speculative purposes or for fun.

CoinDesk has grouped its Projects to Watch in 2023 by the problem they are attempting to solve.

Making financial services accessible

COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of digital financial services, such as online banking. It also proved they were fast, flexible, and reliable. According to the World Bank, 1.4billion adults are not banked. These are often rural women with low education. Crypto can reduce the barriers to entry.

The next billion: Onboarding the Next Billion

The entire crypto-ecosystem is asking this question. How can Web3, cryptocurrencies, and blockchains gain mass adoption to flourish? They must be convenient, easy to use and useful.

Ensure blockchain security

Cryptography is plagued by a wide range of security issues. Blockchains are under threat from quantum computing and other existential threats. Individuals worry about the safety of their wallets and accounts. Crypto can be used to solve problems on both ends.

Transparency of blockchains

Although every transaction is visible on a Blockchain, details are not, at least for most users. Understanding what is happening on the blockchain can be a great way to identify illegal activity, and give market insights. Crypto can be used to magnify its own activity.

Scalable blockchains

Blockchains can become more efficient, but their transactions may also become more expensive, slower and energy-intensive. Crypto can solve gridlock and encourage wider adoption.

Climate change mitigation

The human race is consuming the resources of the planet and emitting too much carbon dioxide into the air. Blockchain technology is a powerful tool to track actions and behaviors, as well as promote sustainable alternatives.

Aiding disaster victims

People often send money to charities after disasters. It is difficult to get the cash to those who are in need. Crypto can simplify and speed up the process.

Infrastructure expansion

Some regions are unable to maintain reliable electricity, while others have advanced robots capable of natural conversation. Crypto can connect remote communities.

Social media censorship and central control: Resisting it

Crypto Twitter is an unofficial gathering place for crypto enthusiasts. Now, after Elon Musk acquired the platform, it has been privatized and regulated erratically. This has turned off not only Crypto Twitter, but the entire world. The crypto community offers decentralized alternatives.

Ben Schiller is the editor.