(Bloomberg) — Weakness in the crypto market is providing a sobering backdrop for bullish forecasts, but adherents remain undeterred.

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Trading-platform Crypto.com estimates 1 billion people will invest in cryptocurrencies by the end of this year. It’s a lofty target. Not only is it more than triple the amount from last year, based on the company’s data, but many suspect Bitcoin and other digital assets are entering a crypto winter.

A continued slide in risk assets this month has seen Bitcoin shed roughly 45% of its value from a high in November. It’s enough to bring back fears of a drawn-out bear market like the one in 2018. But evangelists aren’t yet backing down from calls for widespread usage and rising prices.

This year is “going to be the first year where you cannot say crypto is not mainstream anymore,” said Gritt Trakulhoon, an investment analyst at Titan Global Capital Management USA Inc.

The majority of people investing in digital assets are buying for speculative purposes, hoping to generate a return. But, a handful of high-profile figures have backed cryptocurrencies including a recent wave of politicians and athletes accepting paychecks in Bitcoin, adding to the hype around projected mass adoption.

Challenges remain for novice investors in cryptocurrencies. There could be more frequent episodes of infamous volatility ahead as the market grapples with uncertainty over Federal Reserve borrowing rate increases, according to Anastasia Amoroso, chief investment strategist at iCapital. Plus, it continues to be complicated for individuals to understand how to operate a wave of Web3 applications.

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“Seriously, I cannot tell you how hard it is to explain to someone how to set it all up,” Trakulhoon said. “A lot of capital is being poured into the system to significantly improve user experience. That will be needed in order for mass adoption to occur.”

Despite obstacles, bulls see usage growing this year. In 2021 — a breakout moment for digital assets — ownership increased 178% to 295 million investors, according to Crypto.com.

FTX Chief Executive Officer Sam Bankman-Fried said there’s a real chance of reaching the 1-billion milestone.

“There are some applications that themselves have about a billion users, so if one of them ends up on-boarding many of their users to crypto, that alone could get you pretty close,” he said in an interview. “We’re not that far away already.”

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