Crypto now has a higher valuation than all paper U.S. currency

A big milestone in a week that was chock full of them

Peter A. McKay
3 min readMay 9, 2021


Photo by BestPicko via Flickr under Creative Commons license

Re-sharing below the latest edition of #Web3 Weekly, my regular newsletter about decentralization. If you’d like to get it in your inbox every Sunday, subscribe here.

Crypto is now bigger than the U.S. dollar by at least one major metric.

The global valuation of cryptoassets topped $2.4 trillion last week, led by new all-time highs in ether and dogecoin, as well as a modest bump for bitcoin. That now makes the crypto market slightly bigger than the amount of paper U.S. currency in circulation, at $2.2 trillion, according to data published Saturday in the Wall Street Journal. (Note: WSJ’s story is paywalled as usual, bless their hearts. But you can see a similar crypto-dollar comparison from veteran markets analyst Jim Bianco for free here.)

Cue crypto heads’ favorite rants about inflation versus deflation, whether bitcoin will someday replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and so on.

We should also note here that a broader measure of U.S. money supply called M2, which includes bank balances and other forms of the dollar aside from paper greenbacks, remains way bigger than crypto for now, at nearly $20 trillion. But still.

It’s more than a little ironic that one of naysayers’ favorite criticisms of crypto — that you “can’t hold it in your hands” — is now effectively moot. By this very standard, crypto has now won. It’s only the dollar’s own intangible manifestations that make it bigger at this point.

The rest of the week’s headlines:

  • MetaMask usage has quintupled over the last six months. Podcaster Laura Shin recently did an excellent episode about how the popular wallet has benefited from the boom in altcoins.
  • Upgrades everywhere. Big technical improvements are underway for both the Bitcoin network and Uniswap.
  • New crypto features may be coming to your favorite fiat-based app soon. The Block reports that PayPal is considering whether to launch its own stablecoin. In an interview with CNBC, eBay’s chief executive hinted that the auction platform may add crypto payments and non-fungible token listings. The cable network also reported that the crypto custody firm NYDIG and Fidelity National Information Services have formed a partnership to allow Americans to buy and hold crypto in their accounts at hundreds of conventional banks.
  • The Digital Dollar Project is pushing ahead.The nonprofit said it will launch five pilot programs over the next 12 months to test potential uses of a U.S. central bank digital currency.
  • Latin America got its first crypto unicorn. CoinDesk reports that Mexico’s Bitso just raised a $250 million round of venture funding valuing the token exchange at $2.2 billion overall.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to do its share of crypto dealmaking as well. Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital bought infrastructure provider BitGo for $1.2 billion. Venture giant Andreesen Horowitz is launching a new $1 billion crypto fund. And hip-hop legend Nas emerged as a big winner from the recent Coinbase IPO. His early investment in the exchange soared over $40 million after its shares listed on Nasdaq.
  • Charlie Munger still hates bitcoin. Unlike some Wall Streeters who have flip-flopped recently, Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairman has at least remained consistent over time, including remarks at the investment giant’s latest shareholder meeting.
  • But Ifunanyachi Achara loves it. A pro soccer player for Toronto FC, Achara said he now takes around half of his salary in bitcoin using the service Bitwage. He tells CoinDesk he believes bitcoin is a hedge against fiat inflation — particularly in his home country of Nigeria.
  • Blame Instagram. Bloomberg News reports that U.S. demand fell in 2020 for most forms of plastic surgery, with one notable exception: butt implants.

That’s it for now. Thanks for spending some time with the newsletter today! A full revision history of it, including earlier drafts, is available here if you’re interested. If you’d like to get updates like this in your inbox every Sunday, please join our email list here.



Peter A. McKay

I publish the newsletter #Web3Weekly. Former Head of Content & Writer Development at Capsule Social. Other priors: WSJ, Washington Post, and Vice News.