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10 stats that explain the state of digital currencies and assets today



PennyWorks compiled 10 statistics about the history of digital assets using research from CoinMarketCap, CoinGecko, and PitchBook.
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10 stats that explain the state of digital currencies and assets today

Cryptocurrency burst into the American lexicon in the late 2000s as an alternative to central bank-regulated fiat currencies. More than a decade later, the nascent digital currency is coming into its own as a mainstream asset watched and traded by investors around the world.

Americans’ online research into Bitcoin—the earliest cryptocurrency—apparently peaked in late 2017, according to Google Trends search data. Interest spiked again at the start of 2021 as young retail investors hyped up video game retailer GameStop’s stock and plowed their government stimulus checks into the markets. It was against this backdrop last year that public attention was drawn to other alternative assets like crypto and the emerging world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

But despite the recent speculative boomlet, crypto has existed since 2009, when Bitcoin first burst onto the post-2008 crash scene. The identity or identities of its creator–or perhaps creators–who introduced the first digital currency under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto is one of the greatest mysteries of the Internet age.

Unlike the greenback or other paper money, crypto is an entirely virtual currency. It doesn’t exist in any tangible form except as numbers on a computer or server somewhere. Each denomination of a cryptocurrency—or each “coin”—is stored on a permanent ledger called the blockchain. The blockchain is a novel form of database that creates a secure and, in the case of Bitcoin, a publicly transparent digital record of transactions; however, there are other forms of cryptocurrency that promise more privacy than Bitcoin, such as Monero (XMR).

NFTs also utilize blockchain technology to create a truly unique identifier for a digital product like an image or a video that can be traded and owned. This has opened up new online revenue streams for digitally authenticated sports collectibles and athlete-endorsed memorabilia.

For better or worse, blockchain technology has introduced a level of scarcity to the internet. In the past, the internet was heralded as a frontier where everything was free and duplicatable. Now, blockchain tech allows for ownership of digital things by saying essentially: “There is only one authentic version of this thing, and it is the version attached to the unique identifier I purchased.” The introduction of scarcity via NFT blockchains has been a game-changer for modern artists—especially digital animators. NFTs exploded in popularity in 2021, seeing $30 billion in total investment over the year, according to a May report by blockchain research firm Chainalysis.

Somewhat similar to an asset like gold, Bitcoin has grown to become a preferred store of value for many investors today. There are estimated to be thousands of other cryptocurrencies utilizing blockchain tech, but Bitcoin has remained the most prevalent and valued.

Bitcoin itself has had a volatile history over the last decade, jumping from $1 per coin in 2011 to more than $1,200 USD around 2013 before falling back below $100 in 2014. Today, a single bitcoin trades for over $20,000.

The crypto market is currently experiencing a downturn; or, as crypto champion and billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has recently suggested, cryptocurrencies have flown too close to the Sun, propelled by the “easy money” and low-interest rates of the last two years—and now the market is finding a more reasonable price point.

Most importantly, crypto may draw closer to its original purpose as set out in the Bitcoin white paper published anonymously on October 31, 2008—serving as a trustless and privacy-enhancing medium of exchange rather than a speculative instrument. Trustlessness essentially means that, unlike with a regular bank wire or deposited check, no third party is supposed to be able to put a hold on the funds wired between the two parties.

To better understand how we arrived here, PennyWorks compiled this list of 10 statistics about digital assets using research from across the internet, including CoinMarketCap, CoinGecko, and PitchBook.

A vector displaying the Etherium logo

Pogorelova Olga // Shutterstock

Over $23 billion in Bitcoin is traded every day

There is an immense amount of value moving through today’s cryptocurrency markets.

In Bitcoin alone, $23 billion worth of the currency changes hands every day, according to CoinMarketCap data. Ethereum is the next most-traded cryptocurrency in the world, seeing $17.8 billion in trades daily.

Close up of an NFT marketplace on a mobile phone

Hassel Stock // Shutterstock

There have been 37 million NFTs sold since 2017

The NFT collection perhaps most associated with the industry is Bored Ape Yacht Club‘s 10,000 unique images of cartoon primates. But the world of collectible digital art hasn’t always been dominated by illustrations of monkeys in hats.

The first-ever NFT sold was an animated, oscillating geometric shape in .gif format. It was minted on the blockchain in 2014, and sold for $1.5 million. Some of the most valuable NFTs sold over the last year were illustrations belonging to the CryptoPunks collection, one of which went for $24 million.

A data center with computer racks in a network security server room


There are over 20,000 different cryptocurrencies

The number of different cryptocurrencies out there is a little mind-boggling—though experts predict the industry will see considerable consolidation over the coming years. It’s estimated that thousands of cryptocurrencies have already collapsed into obscurity, but roughly 10,000 are still actively traded, according to

The most popularly traded cryptocurrencies besides Bitcoin are Ether, Tether, USD Coin, Binance Coin (BNB), Binance USD, XRP, Cardano, and Solana.

Tether, USD Coin, and Binance USD are so-called “stable coins’ that attempt to track the value of the U.S. Dollar. These are intended to be a stable, decentralized, digitally-liquid alternative to the dollar but are often used by crypto investors to move in and out of digital assets.

Ether emerged in 2014 and has risen to be investors’ favorite crypto alternative to Bitcoin. The currency lives on its own proprietary blockchain software called Ethereum, which also doubles as a development sandbox for virtual and video game environments. In recent years, Monero has emerged as the choice of privacy advocates, hackers, and illicit sales on the dark web.


NFT works of art displayed on gallery wall

Noam Galai // Getty Images

The most expensive NFT sold for $91.8 million

The most expensive NFT ever sold is the brainchild of a renowned digital artist that goes by the pseudonym Pak. The sale was heralded as validation of the NFT industry as a viable ownership model for digital art. The collection included more than 312,000 individual pieces of art, which were purchased by nearly 30,000 individual investors.

Before the record-setting sale of the NFT collection—titled “Merge”Pak was known for creating Archillect, an AI that automatically curated and shared images matching popular aesthetics across social media platforms.

While the digital art world has commanded top dollar with NFTs, the sports memorabilia world has also embraced blockchain technology to authenticate autographs and trade digital collectibles. Sports NFT transactions are forecasted to just about double year over year in 2022, accounting for $2 billion in transactions, according to a report from Deloitte.

A woman checking Bitcoin price chart on a smartphone

oatawa // Shutterstock

Bitcoin’s price peaked at $68,789

Bitcoin’s price peaked at $68,789 per coin in November 2021. Bitcoin also experienced steep price peaks in December 2017, June 2019, and March 2021.

At the top of its 2017 bull run, Bitcoin was listed on the world’s largest futures exchange for the first time, opening the digital asset up to even more widespread adoption by retail investors. In late 2020, Bitcoin’s run-up in value was similar to the stock market’s, which was boosted by coordinated central banking policies meant to support prices and overcome pandemic-driven demand shocks.

Illustration of virtual metaverse land minted on the blockchain

Immersion Imagery // Shutterstock

One company paid $4.3 million for real estate in the metaverse

At the height of crypto enthusiasm in autumn 2021, a company called Republic Realm dropped $4.3 million on property in a virtual game world called Sandbox, built on the Ethereum blockchain. Republic Realm was rebranded as EveryRealm this year and now boasts an investment portfolio of more than 100 virtual real estate developments.

It was considered the largest public virtual real estate transaction in history – though it isn’t a long history. In 2006, virtual land was sold in a virtual world that was popular at the time called Second Life. Sandbox claims it has around 300,000 monthly active users and has struck partnerships with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Adidas.

Data analyzing exchange stock market with charts and quotes

Sodel Vladyslav // Shutterstock

At least 27 different publicly traded companies have invested in digital currencies

MicroStrategy, Tesla, Square, and Nexon are the most recognizable publicly traded companies that have added Bitcoin to their balance sheets, according to CoinGecko.

Analytics platform MicroStrategy has more capital invested in Bitcoin than in any other company. It owns $2.6 billion worth of Bitcoin. MicroStrategy has continued to buy Bitcoin this year, even as the price per coin has dropped.

Billionaire Elon Musk is famously gung-ho on cryptocurrency, and his electric vehicle company Tesla owns $968,000 worth of Bitcoin. Payment platform Square owns $161 million, and Japanese video game developer Nexon holds $34 million.

Some of the other companies with the largest amount of capital invested in Bitcoin, like Galaxy Digital Holdings, which owns $134 million in Bitcoin, are crypto investment firms.

Stressed crypto trader at computer

Ground Picture // Shutterstock

VC-backed crypto and blockchain company valuations reached $3.95 billion before 2022’s possible wave of crypto bankruptcies

Venture capital-backed crypto and blockchain companies have appeared resilient in their valuations, despite the sometimes volatile nature of digital assets.

Through April 2022, venture capitalists were on track to pump even more capital into late-stage crypto firms than they did in 2021. However, the bankruptcy filings of Celsius and Voyager Digital exchanges, as well as the flight of executives from the collapsed crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, have spooked investors.

Since early May, more than $700 billion in value has been wiped off crypto markets amid a mass sell-off. Still, the price of Bitcoin today, for example, hovers around $20,000—levels last seen at the end of 2020.

Modern stock exchange showing crypto currency chart and numbers

Open Studio // Shutterstock

52% of institutional investors worldwide have invested in digital assets

Digital assets were once described as alternative investments; however, as a majority of institutional investors have now invested in them, that may no longer be the case, according to a 2021 report from Fidelity Investments’ digital assets arm.

A majority of the same investors surveyed by Fidelity in 2021 also said the price volatility of digital assets like Bitcoin was a major barrier to entry for investors. Institutional investors in Asia hold more digital assets in portfolios than investors do in Europe and the U.S.

Person using mobile phone to connect a Digital Wallet

Black Salmon // Shutterstock

There are over 83 million registered blockchain wallets

As a sign that new investors are joining the crypto movement, the number of blockchain wallet holders has grown by 10 million in the last year, according to A blockchain wallet is a digital tool that allows investors to store and track the cryptocurrencies they’ve purchased through exchanges.

Several wallets are available to investors, and some cryptocurrency exchanges offer their own wallets. Wallets also come in physical form, and both software-based and physical wallets provide different benefits and risks. Some consider a physical wallet a more secure method of private storage because it isn’t accessible via the internet, where bad actors lurk. Most notoriously, Japan-based exchange Mt. Gox was hacked in 2014, with thousands of Bitcoins being stolen by hackers.

One drawback to physical wallets is what happens if the device gets destroyed, as in a house fire or flood. But in many cases, Bitcoins that have been publicly identified as lost forever from circulation happened after the owners forgot their access keys or died without writing down or trusting anyone with their key passwords.

This story originally appeared on PennyWorks and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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Import costs in these industries are keeping prices high




Machinery Partner used Bureau of Labor Statistics data to identify the soaring import costs that have translated to higher costs for Americans.  
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Inflation has cooled substantially, but Americans are still feeling the strain of sky-high prices. Consumers have to spend more on the same products, from the grocery store to the gas pump, than ever before.

Increased import costs are part of the problem. The U.S. is the largest goods importer in the world, bringing in $3.2 trillion in 2022. Import costs rose dramatically in 2021 and 2022 due to shipping constraints, world events, and other supply chain interruptions and cost pressures. At the June 2022 peak, import costs for all commodities were up 18.6% compared to January 2020.

While import costs have since fallen most months—helping to lower inflation—they remain nearly 12% above what they were in 2020. And beginning in 2024, import costs began to rise again, with January seeing the highest one-month increase since March 2022.

Machinery Partner used Bureau of Labor Statistics data to identify the soaring import costs that have translated to higher costs for Americans. Imports in a few industries have had an outsized impact, helping drive some of the overall spikes. Crop production, primary metal manufacturing, petroleum and coal product manufacturing, and oil and gas extraction were the worst offenders, with costs for each industry remaining at least 20% above 2020.

A multiline chart showing the change in import costs in four major product industries.

Machinery Partner

Imports related to crops, oil, and metals are keeping costs up

At the mid-2022 peak, import costs related to oil, gas, petroleum, and coal products had the highest increases, doubling their pre-pandemic costs. Oil prices went up globally as leaders anticipated supply disruptions from the conflict in Ukraine. The U.S. and other allied countries put limits on Russian revenues from oil sales through a price cap of oil, gas, and coal from the country, which was enacted in 2022.

This activity around the world’s second-largest oil producer pushed prices up throughout the market and intensified fluctuations in crude oil prices. Previously, the U.S. had imported hundreds of thousands of oil barrels from Russia per day, making the country a leading source of U.S. oil. In turn, the ban affected costs in the U.S. beyond what occurred in the global economy.

Americans felt this at the pump—with gasoline prices surging 60% for consumers year-over-year in June 2022 and remaining elevated to this day—but also throughout the economy, as the entire supply chain has dealt with higher gas, oil, and coal prices.

Some of the pressure from petroleum and oil has shifted to new industries: crop production and primary metal manufacturing. In each of these sectors, import costs in January were up about 40% from 2020.

Primary metal manufacturing experienced record import price growth in 2021, which continued into early 2022. The subsequent monthly and yearly drops have not been substantial enough to bring costs down to pre-COVID levels. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting shows that increasing alumina and aluminum production prices had the most significant influence on primary metal import prices. Aluminum is widely used in consumer products, from cars and parts to canned beverages, which in turn inflated rapidly.

Aluminum was in short supply in early 2022 after high energy costs—i.e., gas—led to production cuts in Europe, driving aluminum prices to a 13-year high. The U.S. also imposes tariffs on aluminum imports, which were implemented in 2018 to cut down on overcapacity and promote U.S. aluminum production. Suppliers, including Canada, Mexico, and European Union countries, have exemptions, but the tax still adds cost to imports.

U.S. agricultural imports have expanded in recent decades, with most products coming from Canada, Mexico, the EU, and South America. Common agricultural imports include fruits and vegetables—especially those that are tropical or out-of-season—as well as nuts, coffee, spices, and beverages. Turmoil with Russia was again a large contributor to cost increases in agricultural trade, alongside extreme weather events and disruptions in the supply chain. Americans felt these price hikes directly at the grocery store.

The U.S. imports significantly more than it exports, and added costs to those imports are felt far beyond its ports. If import prices continue to rise, overall inflation would likely follow, pushing already high prices even further for American consumers.

Story editing by Shannon Luders-Manuel. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn.

This story originally appeared on Machinery Partner and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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The states where people pay the most in car insurance premiums




Cheap Insurance compiled a ranking of the states where people pay the most in full-coverage car insurance premiums using MarketWatch data.
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Nearly every state requires drivers to carry car insurance, but the laws vary, and many factors affect the cost of coverage.

Some are controllable, at least to degrees: the type of car you have and your credit history. Some are not: your age and gender. Your marital status, place of residence, and claims history are among the other variables that go into it.

Across the United States, premiums are soaring, rising 20% year over year and increasing six times faster than consumer prices overall as of December 2023, CBS reported. Last September, CNN noted that car insurance rates jumped more in the previous year than they had since 1976.

CBS pointed to many potential reasons for these increases in prices. Coronavirus pandemic-era issues have made buying, fixing, and replacing vehicles costlier. Extreme weather events caused by climate change also damage more vehicles, while insurance companies are increasing their business costs. Severe and more frequent crashes are to blame as well, CNN reported.

On top of these, local factors such as population density, the number of uninsured drivers, and the frequency of insurance claims all affect premiums, which can lead motorists to change or switch their coverage, use other modes of transportation, or even alter decisions about when to buy a vehicle or what to look for.

To see how geography affects cost, Cheap Insurance mapped the states where people pay the most in car insurance premiums using MarketWatch data. Premium estimates were based on full-coverage car insurance for a 35-year-old driver with good credit and a clean driving record. Data accurate as of February 2024.

A heat map showing full-coverage car insurance premiums across the US

Cheap Insurance

Americans pay $167 per month on average for full-coverage insurance

There are common denominators among the five states where it’s most expensive to have car insurance: Michigan, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, and Kentucky. Washington D.C. is another pricey locale, ranking #4 overall.

Three of these six are no-fault jurisdictions and require additional coverage beyond coverage to pay for medical costs. Michigan notably calls for $250,000 in personal injury protection (though people with Medicaid and Medicare may qualify for lower limits), $1 million in personal property insurance for damage done by your car in Michigan, and residual bodily injury and property damage liability that starts at $250,000 for a person harmed in an accident.

Other commonalities between these states include high urban population densities. At least 9 in 10 people in Nevada, Florida, and Washington D.C. live in cities and urban areas, which leads to more crashes and thefts and high rates of uninsured drivers and lawsuits. Additionally, Louisiana, Florida, and Kentucky rank #5, #8, and #10, respectively, in motor vehicle crash deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2021 based on Department of Transportation data analyzed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

A highway in Louisville.


#5. Kentucky

– Monthly full-coverage insurance: $210
– Monthly liability insurance: $57

A car driving through the desert and mountain scenery in Nevada.


#4. Nevada

– Monthly full-coverage insurance: $232
– Monthly liability insurance: $107

Cars parked on a street in New Orleans.


#3. Louisiana

– Monthly full-coverage insurance: $253
– Monthly liability insurance: $77

A bridge over turquoise water.


#2. Florida

– Monthly full-coverage insurance: $270
– Monthly liability insurance: $115

A truck on a highway surrounded by Fall foliage.


#1. Michigan

– Monthly full-coverage insurance: $304
– Monthly liability insurance: $113

Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Lacy Kerrick.

This story originally appeared on Cheap Insurance and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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How businesses can protect themselves from the rising threat of deepfakes

Dive into the world of deepfakes and explore the risks, strategies and insights to fortify your organization’s defences



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In Billy Joel’s latest video for the just-released song Turn the Lights Back On, it features him in several deepfakes, singing the tune as himself, but decades younger. The technology has advanced to the extent that it’s difficult to distinguish between that of a fake 30-year-old Joel, and the real 75-year-old today.

This is where tech is being used for good. But when it’s used with bad intent, it can spell disaster. In mid-February, a report showed a clerk at a Hong Kong multinational who was hoodwinked by a deepfake impersonating senior executives in a video, resulting in a $35 million theft.

Deepfake technology, a form of artificial intelligence (AI), is capable of creating highly realistic fake videos, images, or audio recordings. In just a few years, these digital manipulations have become so sophisticated that they can convincingly depict people saying or doing things that they never actually did. In little time, the tech will become readily available to the layperson, who’ll require few programming skills.

Legislators are taking note

In the US, the Federal Trade Commission proposed a ban on those who impersonate others using deepfakes — the greatest concern being how it can be used to fool consumers. The Feb. 16 ban further noted that an increasing number of complaints have been filed from “impersonation-based fraud.”

A Financial Post article outlined that Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner, Patricia Kosseim, says she feels “a sense of urgency” to act on artificial intelligence as the technology improves. “Malicious actors have found ways to synthetically mimic executive’s voices down to their exact tone and accent, duping employees into thinking their boss is asking them to transfer funds to a perpetrator’s account,” the report said. Ontario’s Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence Framework, for which she consults, aims to set guides on the public sector use of AI.

In a recent Microsoft blog, the company stated their plan is to work with the tech industry and government to foster a safer digital ecosystem and tackle the challenges posed by AI abuse collectively. The company also said it’s already taking preventative steps, such as “ongoing red team analysis, preemptive classifiers, the blocking of abusive prompts, automated testing, and rapid bans of users who abuse the system” as well as using watermarks and metadata.

That prevention will also include enhancing public understanding of the risks associated with deepfakes and how to distinguish between legitimate and manipulated content.

Cybercriminals are also using deepfakes to apply for remote jobs. The scam starts by posting fake job listings to collect information from the candidates, then uses deepfake video technology during remote interviews to steal data or unleash ransomware. More than 16,000 people reported that they were victims of this scam to the FBI in 2020. In the US, this kind of fraud has resulted in a loss of more than $3 billion USD. Where possible, they recommend job interviews should be in person to avoid these threats.

Catching fakes in the workplace

There are detector programs, but they’re not flawless. 

When engineers at the Canadian company Dessa first tested a deepfake detector that was built using Google’s synthetic videos, they found it failed more than 40% of the time. The Seattle Times noted that the problem in question was eventually fixed, and it comes down to the fact that “a detector is only as good as the data used to train it.” But, because the tech is advancing so rapidly, detection will require constant reinvention.

There are other detection services, often tracing blood flow in the face, or errant eye movements, but these might lose steam once the hackers figure out what sends up red flags.

“As deepfake technology becomes more widespread and accessible, it will become increasingly difficult to trust the authenticity of digital content,” noted Javed Khan, owner of Ontario-based marketing firm EMpression. He said a focus of the business is to monitor upcoming trends in tech and share the ideas in a simple way to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

To preempt deepfake problems in the workplace, he recommended regular training sessions for employees. A good starting point, he said, would be to test them on MIT’s eight ways the layperson can try to discern a deepfake on their own, ranging from unusual blinking, smooth skin, and lighting.

Businesses should proactively communicate through newsletters, social media posts, industry forums, and workshops, about the risks associated with deepfake manipulation, he told DX Journal, to “stay updated on emerging threats and best practices.”

To keep ahead of any possible attacks, he said companies should establish protocols for “responding swiftly” to potential deepfake attacks, including issuing public statements or corrective actions.

How can a deepfake attack impact business?

The potential to malign a company’s reputation with a single deepfake should not be underestimated.

“Deepfakes could be racist. It could be sexist. It doesn’t matter — by the time it gets known that it’s fake, the damage could be already done. And this is the problem,” said Alan Smithson, co-founder of Mississauga-based MetaVRse and investor at Your Director AI.

“Building a brand is hard, and then it can be destroyed in a second,” Smithson told DX Journal. “The technology is getting so good, so cheap, so fast, that the power of this is in everybody’s hands now.”

One of the possible solutions is for businesses to have a code word when communicating over video as a way to determine who’s real and who’s not. But Smithson cautioned that the word shouldn’t be shared around cell phones or computers because “we don’t know what devices are listening to us.”

He said governments and companies will need to employ blockchain or watermarks to identify fraudulent messages. “Otherwise, this is gonna get crazy,” he added, noting that Sora — the new AI text to video program — is “mind-blowingly good” and in another two years could be “indistinguishable from anything we create as humans.”

“Maybe the governments will step in and punish them harshly enough that it will just be so unreasonable to use these technologies for bad,” he continued. And yet, he lamented that many foreign actors in enemy countries would not be deterred by one country’s law. It’s one downside he said will always be a sticking point.

It would appear that for now, two defence mechanisms are the saving grace to the growing threat posed by deepfakes: legal and regulatory responses, and continuous vigilance and adaptation to mitigate risks. The question remains, however, whether safety will keep up with the speed of innovation.

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