From an outside perspective, 2022 has been a roller coaster ride for cryptocurrency. The market reached a total valuation of $3 trillion during the 2021 bull market, regressing to its current level of around $810 billion. While this poor performance can be attributed in part to the diffuse macroeconomic environment – exacerbated by high inflation and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, among other factors – one cannot deny the role played by the recent number of defaults in the sector.

However, below is a list of the most notable heroes and villains that have undoubtedly influenced this rapidly evolving industry over the past year.

Changpeng Zhao
While some of the biggest players in the cryptocurrency space have collapsed, Changpeng Zhao, also known as “CZ,” has worked to ensure that his cryptocurrency exchange Binance has even played a role in the collapse of its closest competitor, FTX.

CZ refused to tie cryptocurrency exchanges into the regulatory framework of one or more countries. As a result, governments around the world are not too big on Binance’s approach and frequently pressure the exchange with regulatory requests. However, despite the constant pressure, Binance has grown in influence and stature. Amidst a harsh cryptocurrency winter when layoffs were common, CZ claims it hasn’t made any major layoffs, and the exchange is even looking to hire more people in the near term.

Finally, CZ’s digital presence has grown over the past year, with more than 8 million Twitter followers worldwide. Moreover, the Canadian businessman recently announced that he has invested $500 million in Twitter.

Brian Armstrong
It’s been an up and down year for Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, as the company has laid off several employees while seeing its share price drop dramatically. However, despite the setbacks, he has continued to keep his chin up. Throughout the year, Armstrong has been a vocal critic of the SEC and its chair, Gary Gensler, claiming that the SEC has stifled innovation by forcing crypto entities to adhere to maximum reporting requirements. He also criticized penalties imposed on Tornado Cash smart contract addresses by the US Treasury Department, and pledged to fund a lawsuit to overturn the government’s actions.

Armstrong’s commitment to decentralization and transparency was on full display again earlier this year when he announced that Coinbase would prefer to discontinue its cryptocurrency, Ether.

pointers down

Staking services from controlled Ethereum transactions.

Senators Cynthia Loomis and Kirsten Gillibrand
While some lawmakers remain oblivious to the cryptocurrency market, Sens. Cynthia Loomis and Kirsten Gillibrand have taken the time to understand the true financial and social potential of this rapidly maturing technology.

Earlier this year, the pro-crypto duo introduced a bill called the Lummis-Gillibrand Responsible Financial Innovation Act, proposing a comprehensive framework for digital currency governance. The bill was introduced in response to the SEC’s lack of clarity in the space and the separation of cryptocurrencies into three categories: commodities, securities, and ancillary assets.

The bill indicates that cryptocurrencies classified as commodities should be regulated by the CFTC, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) responsible for additional securities and assets.

Representative Tom Emmer
Actor Tom Emmer is another voice who has given strong support to the crypto industry in the past year. Recently, the politician referred to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler’s crypto oversight strategy, describing it as “haphazard and inconsistent.” Furthermore, he revealed that since January, he has been approached by the heads of several prominent crypto entities who have complained to him that Gensler’s reporting requirements are onerous and unfair, calling them unnecessary and biased against the crypto market.

In a recent tweet, he called on Eimer Gensler to testify before Congress and explained his criticized regulatory approach. He also added that he “[Gensler] refused to provide Congress with the information requested in the letter, which would have informed Congress of the apparent inconsistencies in Gensler’s approach that caused him to lose Terra/Luna, Celsius, Voyager, and FTX.”

The entire core Ethereum development team
After years of delays, Ethereum’s highly anticipated transition to the Proof of Stake consensus layer came to fruition earlier this year. Known as the merge, this was the first time that a project of Ethereum’s size had successfully completed a technical maneuver of this scale.