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RIYADH: 2021 was a record year for cryptocurrencies, with the cryptocurrency market cap briefly reaching $3 trillion (SAR 11.3 trillion) in November.

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and the second largest cryptocurrency, ether, also hit all-time highs. While altcoins and meme-inspired Dogecoin are gaining traction.

Other digital assets, such as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, sell for millions of dollars alongside fine art at major auction houses. A digital collage of American artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million in March.

In addition to art, NFTs used in video games to purchase digital land or other items have risen in value.

El Salvador became the first country to accept bitcoin as legal tender in September, in a move that made the government offer digital wallets worth $30 worth of bitcoin to every citizen.

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El Salvador became the first country to accept bitcoin as legal tender in September, in a move that saw the government offer digital wallets worth $30 worth of bitcoin to every citizen.

Blockchain-based applications including decentralized finance, or DeFi, have gained interest from both individual and institutional investors, driving the growth of Web3, the decentralized version of the Internet based on blockchain technology that powers NFTs and supports cryptocurrencies.

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

Here are the most important crypto features for 2021.

Most Searched Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin received an average of 1,100,000 searches per month on Google, and was the most searched cryptocurrency on Google in the UK in 2021, according to a new study.

A representation of the virtual currency Bitcoin is shown in this illustration taken on June 14, 2021. (REUTERS/File Photo)

The research by Bacancy, a software company, added that Dogecoin is the second most searched cryptocurrency in the UK with a monthly average of 596,000 searches on Google over the past year.

In third place with 378,000 searches is Ethereum, a blockchain-based software platform for receiving and sending value globally.

With 189,000 searches per month, the Shiba Inu token, another cryptocurrency with a dog theme, took fourth place.

Cardano ranks fifth in terms of searches, with 187,000 searches, followed by XRP in sixth place with 185,000 monthly searches, and seventh with Ripple with 83,000 searches on Google in 2021.

A representation of the virtual currency Bitcoin is shown in this illustration taken on October 19, 2021. (REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo)
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Meanwhile, Dogecoin surpassed Bitcoin in popularity in the US in 2021 as it is the most searched cryptocurrency in the country’s 23 states, according to the research.

This survey was conducted by the financial advisor The Advisor Coach to create the cryptocurrency that all of the United States might want to invest in based on their searches.

An analysis of Google Trends data revealed that Dogecoin had the highest number of countries that were interested in investing in digital currency with a total of 23 states, including Illinois, Florida, Hawaii and New Jersey. The rate hike could partly be attributed to endorsement by US billionaire Elon Musk who said in December that his electric car maker Tesla would accept Dogecoin as a form of payment.

Bitcoin is ranked second among the most popular countries as 10 states are looking for investment opportunities in cryptocurrency, including Connecticut, Alaska, Mississippi and New Hampshire.

Eight states inquired about Ethereum, the third-highest place in search, with states such as Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia and Ohio expressing interest.

Who does the mining?

Most bitcoin mining has occurred in China, according to Internet Protocol, or IP addresses, which use the mathematical functions needed to search for the digital currency.

In 2021, the largest Bitcoin mining pools in the world came from China, with five pools responsible for more than half of all crypto hash or sports mining jobs.

Cryptocurrency mining facilities are located in Pristina, Kosovo. (Reuters/Hazer Reka/file photo)

This is likely related to energy prices around the world as the cost of electricity in Germany is more than 10 times the price in China. Successful bitcoin mining uses banks of high-powered computers that use a great deal of power.

Cryptocurrency miners have bought a lot of hardware this year, driving the prices of some mining accessories up nearly 10 percent per week in 2021, according to Statista.

However, on the dark side of the coin, the US Internal Revenue Service revealed in November that $3.5 billion in cryptocurrency was confiscated last year.

This represents 93 percent of all funds seized by the Criminal Investigation Unit during 2021.

The agency expects to seize billions of additional dollars in cryptocurrency next year.

“I expect the trend of crypto forfeitures to continue as we move forward into fiscal year 2022,” said Jim Lee, the IRS’s chief of criminal investigations. “We see cryptocurrencies involved in a number of our crimes as we move forward.”

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