Wells Fargo: Digital Assets ‘an innovation on par with the internet, cars and electricity’

Wells Fargo, the fourth largest bank in the United States by market capitalization, has released a special report, Understanding Cryptocurrency, comparing digital assets to the invention of the “internet, cars, and electricity.”

Internet of value

The report by his global investment strategy team, published at the beginning of August, described digital assets as “the building blocks of a new internet.” A comment directed to Wells Fargo’s investment clients stated that the advancement of digital assets would bring “new investment possibilities and opportunities.”

“Many expect digital assets to be the building blocks of a new internet, the internet of value…

The Internet of Value is potentially devastating to the world of finance, just as it was the original Internet of communications and information. What that might mean for investors.

The term “internet of value” is not new; Speaking to CryptoSlate’s Akiba at Blockchain Week in Paris in March, the head of NFT & Fan Tokens for Binance, Helen Hai, cited the internet of value as the cornerstone of how it approaches crypto. However, it is a term that has a lot of meaning in defining the difference between web 2.0 and web3. The image below compares the two.

Internet of value
Source: Wells Fargo Investment Institute, July 2022

Preparing new users of cryptocurrency

Interestingly, Wells Fargo has identified an important trend in the cryptocurrency industry to focus on technology rather than the “big picture.” The user experience within crypto and web3 is notorious, with the complexity of dApps and wallet management. New users face an exceptionally high entry barrier; Initial phrases, passphrases, tokens, blockchain, and token transfers are all completely alien to newcomers.

Wells Fargo states that its series of special cryptocurrency reports aims to “make sure newcomers see big picture concepts before they get buried in detail.” The importance of this cannot be underestimated for the advancement of crypto and the web 3. A household name in banking that publishes a special pro-crypto report educating non-crypto users about the long-term benefits of digital assets carries a lot of weight.

While many investors embedded in the cryptocurrency industry do not trust traditional banks, a more significant subset of the broader US population still relies on family-name banks. The support from this institution, far from simply promoting the purchase of Bitcoin as part of strategic diversification, does a lot to establish the legitimacy of the digital asset in the general population.

The report announced that it will refer to all cryptocurrencies, smart contracts and other tokens as “digital assets.” This use of the language in itself is a tangible step towards improving the user experience by removing preconceived notions about terms such as cryptocurrency, NFTs, and tokens.

Conclusion

With the last six pages of the report, Wells Fargo has drawn comparisons of how the current version of the Internet is reinventing post offices, music stores, landlines and local news. These comparisons have been used to attempt to create a benchmark to explain how the “internet of value” has reinvented local currencies, payment networks, securities, property, and contracts.

Real-world examples of payment processing, transfers, and other uses of digital assets are described in the report before attempting to explain the Bitcoin Lightning Network. The image in the description echoed Jack Mallers’ offer to use the Lightning Network to send banknotes. Wells Fargo declared, “Early movers may be able to ride open network effects, achieving economies of scale, while late movers may lose out.”

Wells Fargo concluded the report by saying,

The main risks facing the industry are additional regulation, technology and business failures, operational risks with handling and storage of digital assets, price volatility, and limited consumer protection.

This is the fifth in a series of cryptocurrency reports from Wells Fargo. The next report will continue the topic of risks associated with investing in early stage technology.

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