Both the stock market and the cryptocurrency market are having a terrible week. The Dow dropped 1000 points on Thursday, after CNBC reported it fell more than 1,175 points on Monday. The BBC called this sudden downturn the largest decline since 2011. According to OnChainFX, bitcoin prices also dropped 15 percent over the past week, to roughly $8,228.47 by Thursday, while the price of Ethereum’s ether tokens plummeted 26 percent to around $808.86. Yet most cryptocurrency experts remain bullish in the face of volatility. Just like the Dow, veterans recall this dip still represents remarkable growth compared to the same day last year.

For example, Juthica Chou, co-founder and president of the cryptocurrency clearing house LedgerX, told International Business Times her team will roll out several new cryptocurrency derivative products in 2018. Ethereum futures contracts will soon join bitcoin derivatives, for which LedgerX already has thousands of outstanding contracts. These contracts help businesses hedge against the risks of working with volatile cryptocurrency. Chou remains optimistic about potential bitcoin ETFs too.

Ethereum Ethereum sign on Joe Lubin's desk at ConsenSys headquarters in New York. Photo: Vincent Balestriere/IBT

“I think in 2018, we will finally get some semblance of an ETF or an exchange-traded product in the CFTC’s jurisdiction that retail [investors] can access and easily trade,” Chou said. “We see a lot of demand... so we’ll probably see more development for things that are uniquely suited to digital currency.” Like most cryptocurrency experts, Chou foresees several years of dramatic evolution ahead for blockchain-based assets as the market matures.

Cryptocurrency adoption is quickly spreading across the global, multiplying diverse conduits as it goes. International money transfers were particularly slow and expensive before the bitcoin boom. So blockchain-friendly remittance startups such as BitSpark in Hong Kong and BitPesa in Nairobi, Kenya, continue growing regardless of market dips. BitPesa's founder and CEO, Elizabeth Rossiello, told IBT the startup had around 10 employees in 2016. Today the team includes 51 people.

BitPesa facilitates money transfers for users across Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, just to name a few. It recently acquired the European fintech platform TransferZero as part of its strategy to expand BitPesa’s presence in Europe. Rossiello said deliberately hiring diverse teams is key for local engagement coupled with global reach. “We can’t just have one demographic build products for the whole world,” Rossiello told IBT. “You have to keep your end customer in mind. Customers around the world are different, even if the technology you use is universal.” 

The Silicon Valley-based fintech giant Ripple is yet another player investing in global expansion. This week the Chinese payment provider LianLian International announced it will join Ripple’s network, with clients such as Yes Bank in India, Cuallix in Mexico and the global remittance provider MoneyGram.

Meanwhile, Ripple’s cryptocurrency XRP took a beating in the broader marketplace. OnChainFX estimates the token’s price dropped 28 percent over the past week. By Thursday, it sold for roughly $0.75 per token, according to CoinMarketCap, compared to $2.52 on Jan.8. BitMEX Research recently argued XRP is not technically a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, nor a (mostly) decentralized network like Ethereum. The scathing BitMEX report concluded: “The Ripple system appears for all practical purposes to be centralized... devoid of any interesting technical characteristics, such as censorship resistance.”

On the other hand, some XRP enthusiasts think of Ripple’s digital currency services as a more efficient form of SWIFT. “SWIFT is all about blaming the banks,” Bank of the West’s vice president, Naskeh Habibi, told IBT. “For me it’s all about tracking the transaction. You can’t really do that with SWIFT.” In 2016, Reuters reported SWIFT was slow to address security flaws after the central bank of Bangladesh lost $81 million in a SWIFT-related heist.

This lack of transparency applies to domestic transaction too. “I just sold one of my homes in Colorado,” Habibi said. “When I asked my escrow officer how do I know when my [fiat] money will get to me or when it was sent, there is no way for me to track it.” Even a centralized network with some type of open source ledger, a watered-down version of community-driven cryptocurrencies, might offer more accountability than the current system.

“When the war happened in Iraq, it became very difficult to transact, to transfer money back and forth. I have family in Iraq, and transferring money to them is absolutely a pain,” Habibi said. “It’s very expensive… [I prefer] XRP because of the low transaction fees and the speed.” That’s why she remains bullish on XRP despite market volatility and widespread criticism.

Beyond her day job, Habibi works to boost global cryptocurrency adoption by offering blockchain consulting to several Iraqi bankers, businessmen and government officials. “My family, we escaped Iran and fled to Iraq. My husband is an [American] disabled veteran,” she said. “For us, we have a deep connection to Iraq. And this is a technology that is changing the world. If it fails, it fails. We’re trying to make a difference.”

Editor’s note: This is not investment advice. Any following statements are not legal pronouncements or endorsements regarding any specific project. This article is merely an illustrative reflection of the opinions expressed by interviewed experts.