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Cryptocurrencies caused a stir at the Super Bowl.
Four advertisements touting cryptocurrencies aired during the three-and-a-half-hour broadcast. Although not a large number, it is still a sign that cryptocurrencies have become mainstream.
The ads ranged from one showing an older LeBron James stepping back in time to visit his younger self, to one where comedian Larry David misses all the major story innovations and now, of course, also resists crypto. .
The one that got the most attention featured a floating QR code on the screen with background music for 60 seconds. This confused many people, but many more scanned the codes on their screens with their phones.
They were taken to a promotion for $15 free Bitcoin to sign up on Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, where people can buy and sell the virtual currency. But the site crashed due to the massive increase in traffic, which led to the inevitable social media uproar.
Cryptocurrencies are a form of digital currencies built on blockchain technology, using a distributed public ledger that keeps track of every transaction. They are decentralized and are not connected to any third party like a bank. The growth of cryptocurrency has been primarily an investment, not a medium of exchange.
But cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and can have price fluctuations of more than 10% in a single day. Last year, a crypto called Dogecoin rose around 15,000% and then quickly fell dramatically.
These big moves have attracted millions of investors. A study by Grayscale Investments found that more than half (55%) of investors who currently own Bitcoin started investing in it in the last 12 months.
A study by the Pew Research Center found that 16% of Americans have invested, traded, or used cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
“More and more investors are seeing long-term value in adding Bitcoin and digital currencies to their investment portfolios,” said Michael Sonnenshein, CEO of Grayscale Investments.
Super Bowl commercials tend to be among the most coveted spots on network television. This year, a 30-second Super Bowl spot sold for $6.5 million, according to NBC. Last year, ads averaged $5.6 million on CBS.
This crypto ad craze is reminiscent of the Super Bowl of 2000 during the dot com era. One company, pets.com, ran an ad campaign featuring a sock-puppet mascot who would later be interviewed by People magazine.
Some investors believe that cryptocurrencies are doomed to crash and upheaval similar to dot com companies. Charlie Munger, the billionaire VP of Berkshire Hathaway, told the Sydney Morning Herald about cryptocurrencies, “I wish they had never been invented.”
But cryptocurrency also has plenty of believers, including billionaire TV celebrity investor Mark Cuban, who says 80% of his investments are in cryptocurrencies.