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The Future Of Cryptocurrencies: What Lies Ahead In 2021?

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All throughout last year, the world of decentralized finance (DeFi) continued its growth until it reached a total locked value (TVL) of about $15,000 million in December. This growth was a vertiginous one if we take into account the fact that the TVL was only $1 billion at the beginning of the year.

In fact, for a few months, trading volumes on certain DeFi exchanges exceeded those of some large traditional exchanges. Looking ahead, it is likely that they will continue to grow in 2021, despite facing a setback this week. Elon Musk announced that Tesla was abandoning payments via bitcoin (BTC).

BTC and other digital currencies had followed an upward trajectory in recent months, as buyers have found new uses for these assets. This has resulted in a wave of new market trends gripping the financial world during the pandemic. But the continuous fluctuations in the value of cryptocurrencies have also grabbed many headlines of late.

The rise in currency prices to highs at the end of 2020 has already raised many questions about investor protection and necessary regulations regarding the same. For instance, the GameStop affair has raised alarm bells about the importance of some changes in the operation of the DeFi sector.

Cryptocurrencies have become popular medium among expat workers as these allow them to send payments to their families back home, without having to incur a heavy transaction fee. Representational Image.

Can Cryptocurrencies Be Regulated?

The tension between ruling elites and civil society is one of the bases of cryptocurrencies, which were born from a desire for decentralization. So, its existence in a regulated framework presents some challenges.

“The basic and general question is that the innovation of digital assets has exceeded our regulatory framework,” explained Timothy Massad, a researcher from Harvard the former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, in an article in the New York Times. “That is not unusual; there has always been a tension between innovation and regulation.”

One of the biggest debates among crypto-regulators gravitates around whether cryptocurrencies are commodities or securities, as well as the potential limitations of crypto-retail for certain markets.

Cross Border Payments

Cryptocurrencies have become one of the most popular channels for expatriate workers to send payments to their families in their home countries without having to deal with costs and penalties. Companies like Ripple have bet heavily on this market.

However, due to its dispute with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ripple has lost out on important partners such as MoneyGram, one of the most important payment platforms for migrants.

But, since the dispute with the SEC, 100% of the clients of its currency (known as XRP) are located outside USA, mainly in southeast Asia. This is because regulators in Singapore and Thailand have classified XRP as a digital asset.

In addition to this, the sector is also booming in the Middle East, North Africa, Saudi Arabia and India.

The Evolution Of TNF

The CEO of Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse, recently declared that non-fungible tokens (TNF) have more of a future than some people are predicting. Garlinghouse pointed out many possibilities for its use, especially when it comes to digital collectibles.

“When it comes to art, collectibles, music, etc… there are many very convincing arguments in favor of using this technology,” he said. The growth of transactions of this type increases the volume and diversifies the potential of cryptocurrencies.

It also opens them up to a new audience. XRP is already working to ensure that its platform will be able to support TNF.

The CEO of Ripple believes that non-fungible tokens are the next big thing. Photo credit: Brad Garlinghouse, Facebook.

Central Banks

China, Cambodia and the Bahamas are some countries that have already launched digital currencies through their central banks in the recent past. In USA, the Federal Reserve is currently working with MIT to explore the viability of a digital currency.

Some experts believe that the adoption of digital currencies by the world’s governments will help stimulate more efficient cross-border transactions. This should be read with a pinch of salt because a significant portion of users still prefer independent currencies.

Support From Large Financial Institutions

Throughout 2020, large institutions such as JP Morgan and Standard Chartered were building DeFi solutions for their clients. Some institutions like Citibank to Deutsche Bank have even begun to regularly cover a part of their investments in cryptocurrencies.

This trend will only accelerate in 2021 as many banks begin to go public with specific cryptocurrency development plans. This is likely to further catalyze the entry of traditional companies from the demand side.

Although investment banks have been the most active players so far, experts suggest that in the future, we must be vigilant with private banks.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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