The year to come promises yet more innovative mainstream blockchain and cryptocurrency applications. Two years after the bitcoin boom, we can see increasing understanding of cryptocurrencies and markets reaching greater maturity.
Whilst the hype around bitcoin has certainly passed, the advantages and benefits of deploying blockchain have only just started to show. Blockchain technology itself has improved in 2018, with greater scalability, more decentralised features and enhanced security. One thing we can be sure of is that in 2019, the blockchain and fintech revolutions will continue to gain ground, paving the way for more innovations to enter the market.
The external mood is causing investors and entrepreneurs to steer clear of traditional markets. With the political climate bringing chaos in the UK and Europe, coupled with low oil price expectations and continued volatility in equities, alternative investment options, as those found in the crypto market, can be much more attractive.
Check out our predictions in the blockchain and crypto space for next year and pick your favourite projects.
- Bitcoin out, Altcoins in. DigiByte under the spotlight
The Bitcoin hype is certainly over, and the last year has created a chance for other crytpocurrencies — known as altcoins to shine.
One of the most successful of such projects is DigiByte (DGB). Powered by strong community effort, DGB is a token designed for mass scale adoption and cybersecurity. DGB is the fastest and most scalable blockchain in the world due to its design choices, such as multi-algorithm mining and decreasing block times. Every 2 years, the DGB blockchain's dynamic strcuture system doubles the number of transactions per second by doubling the block size. In 2019, capacity should reach 1100+ transactions per second, with a maximum capability of 280,000 transactions per second by 2035.
Another crypto in strong favour is Ripple. Desgined as the cryptocurrency of banks and international companies for money transfer, its token XRP allows users to send money all around the globe at high speed and low cost. Ripple is becoming further integrated to banks and fintech systems and is already being used by over 100 companies worldwide.
2. The Darwin Effect in the ICO market.
Capital to be directed to projects with stronger use cases.
After the ICO boom in 2017 through 2018, the next year will bring a more ‘evolved’ phase of the ICO market. Many of the vast number of coins launched over the last couple of years proved to be poorly managed projects with no real or practical applications, or in some cases even fraudulent.
The future of ICOs is in projects that present great scalability — ability to grow without losing efficiency — and strong use cases. Coins and tokens to watch are those that can add real value to the user experience and provide new avenues for efficiency in business models while promoting innovation.
With the introduction of more reliable regulating mechanisms both at governmental and community level, we’ll see a cleansing in the market, with a ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ model allowing only the most solid projects to stay in the game.
3. The Technology Revolution is on: Blockchain meets AI
The integration of blockchain with other disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence is already a hot topic this year — a trend set to increase even more. Recently, Google announced solid moves to widen its AI team and research. The tech giant has promised to deploy AI features to social change projects and develop fairer machine learning mechanisms.
We should also expect further integration of blockchain into platforms with AI and Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is a system of multiple interconnected devices, all with unique identifiers and capable of transferring information between one another via network connection.
Because of its decentralisation, automated data and strong security framework, blockchain is an ideal underlying structural technology for many industries.
4. Crypto market matures and becomes more sophisticated amid widespread adoption of blockchain by different industries
According to a survey by the International Data Corporation, in 2019, we can expect more investments in blockchain projects as investors are searching for increasingly sophisticated solutions, faster networks and a higher degree of innovation. The technology is set not only to generate new applications but also be integrated into already existing systems. Respondents reported being keen to take blockchain on board as it will provide significant benefits to their companies and improve their way of doing business.
In the crypto market, the trend indicates that the number of exchanges and listed coins are continuing to grow, but also that the crypto market in general is more mature, more sustainable and receiving more substantial investments from institutional investors.
Aside from finance, so many different industries can benefit from adopting blockchain. One of the prime cases is Online Blockchain (OBC), a pioneer tech company developing a number of blockchain projects around the world. OBC employs a long-term strategy, analysing various markets and applications where blockchain can bring disruption. Throughout 2018, the company has launched cryptocurrencies in many Asian and Latin American countries, as well as establishing partnership with a gaming company to integrate blockchain into its gaming features.
5. Stronger crypto communities: DigiByte in the driving seat
With the widespread adoption of blockchain and people getting used to the decentralised ecosystem, there is an atmosphere of understanding and appreciation. People all over the world are beginning to understand the power of decentralisation so are keen to get involved in blockchain projects, sharing ideas and bringing their contributions to the cause. This proactive social involvement and engagement in the technology revolution has resulted in digital communities which are starting to serve as a key element for any project aiming at a wide adoption. They are also the new protagonist of a new marketing and communication frontier.
One example of such a strong and effective community is the community around DigiByte Coin. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world have contributed to DigiByte in countless ways over the past half-decade to make it what it is today. In fact, in a first-of-its-kind DGB event in London hosted by Cassiopeia Services, the founder of DGB Mr Jared Tate himself admitted that one of his developers is someone he has never met in his life, showing that people’s strong belief in DGB is the real reason behind its immense growth. Those people are highly motivated, driving the development of blockchain with new project ideas, all the while spreading awareness.
The next DGB event, DigiByte Global Summit is taking place in Amsterdam on 19th April 2019. Registrations now open here.
5.The Power of Decentralisation: Increasing Decentralised Applications (DApps)
The coming year will see a prominent boost in the adoption of decentralised applications. Any centralised database can be converted into a distributed, scalable database that can be used to power such innovative applications.
More recently, the scalability of DApps has been improving and investor attention is turning to the different applications that are built of top of blockchain platforms. One of the most prominent coins developing and exploring DApps is DigiByte, which has implemented further decentralisation features and increased security for the new generations of crypto applications.
Decentralised applications run on a peer-to-peer network, rather than a single computer, and have existed since the advent of peer-to-peer networks. They are a type of software program designed to exist on the internet in a way that is not controlled by any single entity. A DApp is a distributed application that runs its back-end code on a distributed ledger network. DApps can be designed to be censorship-resistant and prevent a failure or attack from a single point. The software program is designed on the internet where consensus — rather than a single entity — is the control. DGB’S focus on DApps regarding decentralised networks will cause a paradigm shift in the industry’s software models. The distributed, transparent, and incentivised application will transform technology, especially the app industry.
Games as DApps have already started to get the attention of millennials, an area which is expected to increase considerably in the coming year. One such example of a potential ICO is ULTICOIN.
6. Regulations and jurisdictions: Increase watchdog
Along with the ‘mainstreaming’ of blockchain come regulations and legal frameworks to standardise it. Countries like Malta, Gibraltar and Switzerland have already indicated moves towards welcoming crypto into their economies and legislations.
In light of expansive growth, other economies are working on strategies for digital economy and fintech, with special address to cryptocurrencies. In Europe, Switzerland takes the lead in welcoming blockchain and disruptive technologies into a regulatory framework. During this year, the country has established a crypto sector within FINM, its financial market regulatory body. In recognition of the increasing number of coins on offer under the Swiss market, the body has set specific rules for ICOs and digital assets, aiming to better protect banks, businesses and customers who transact with cryptocurrencies.
Malta has also followed similar steps to set cryptocurrency regulations which came into effect in late 2018 under the The Innovative Technology Arrangement and Services Act. The small country is indeed showing itself as the leading nations in embracing blockchain. Malta is home to famous crypto exchanges such as Binance and BitBay, and has established a partnership with OKEx to launch a new crypto exchange with the fintech arm of Malta Stock Exchange Holdings.
7. Gaming innovation and development. Gamification to spread
The multi-billion-dollar gaming industry is usually seen as a forward-thinking space in terms of adopting new technologies. This is (almost certainly the case with blockchain. Projects integrating blockchain into gaming services or coupling gaming and cryptocurrencies have recently emerged and are showing strong tendencies towards growth.
Gaming platforms built on blockchain offer many more features to users such as increased security and transparency, and the ability to trade assets without the need for a third party — which would usually set rules and charge fees.
Furthermore, projects such as ULTICoin offer gamers — for the first time — the chance to exchange their gaming tokens into cryptocurrencies and potentially fiat currencies, promising to turn gaming into a profitable activity and make the market increasingly attractive to investors. ULTI capitalises on the value locked in the gaming market, giving more power and control to developers over earnings and distribution.
A decentralised gaming market allows more independence for all parts involved, as it eliminates the middlemen who can delay proceedings or deprive these developers of their entitlements. On top of that, blockchain helps with distribution and publishing fees, arbitrary selection and restrictions.
8. Future Economy Tokenisation & Digital Security Assets
Structurally comparable to stocks, tokens are becoming the new assets, with the advantage of being more user-friendly, as tokens — more accurately called digital assets — are more practical and tangible. Usually located in digital wallets in smartphones, tokens are secure and immutable, representing a more attractive alternative to the old environment of the stock market.
Security tokens are fully-compliant digital assets representing the ownership in traditional asset classes such as real-estate, equities and bonds. Thanks to blockchain, investors of all levels are able to access investments on a 24/7, transparent and global platform to trade securities of all kinds.
Swarm Fund is at the forefront of the digital security implementation in market and investment. Swarm is the Open Infrastructure for Digital Securities and the first private equity blockchain fund: an open-source fully regulated platform for scalable crypto investments. In essence, Swarm is a decentralised capital marketplace that democratises investment in crypto security assets offering a fully compliant and legal infrastructure.
It offers a wide variety of investment options in crypto security assets, within a fully compliant and legal infrastructure. The investments are all built on the same platform: new opportunities and free access to digitised assets to any investor on a non-discriminatory basis.
Crypto experts believe that, due to increased sophistication and better regulation, Security Token Offerings will be just as successful as the movement in the ICO markets in 2018, or even more so.
9. Cybersecurity at the top
While a digital economy can make doing finance easier, it also poses risks of data breaches and hacking. Therefore, the future calls for better management of digital assets at all levels and more sophisticated mechanisms to counter malicious acts.
DX exchange is the first crypto exchange powered by NASDAQ. Its technology relies on NASDAQ’s infrastructure, such as its matching engine, used by over 70 exchanges around the world. DX’s regulations meet the highest regulatory standards, thus avoiding common errors and bugs, such as double count trading, and in general prevents fake volumes.
Cybersecurity is a major concern for crypto exchanges, as has been seen in numerous cases. This issue will also be addressed with the help of NASDAQ’s infrastructure, and Daniel Skowronski, the CEO of DX exchange, has promised to hire the best specialists in the field to avoid hacks and other malicious attacks.
10. Decentralised Exchanges (DEX)
The past couple years have seen centralised crypto exchanges being hacked, and attacked by regulators as a result. One of the trends in 2019 will be the growth of the decentralised exchange, which introduces the features of blockchain to the market structure. Even though DEX architecture employs centrally-managed, off-chain order books, traders retain possession of their private keys until a counterparty is found, at which point the trade is executed on chain.
11. Fintech spurs growth in developing countries
In emerging economies, technological developments are set to prompt economic growth and societal change by increasing financial inclusion and individual empowerment. Fintech tools, especially mobile banking, have helped millions of unbanked citizens to manage their money better and more safely.
In Africa, where the vast majority of the population works in agriculture, technology can make a big difference. Use of innovative tools allows small holder farmers to grow production and make a living. Block Commodities, a leading agritech company operating in Africa, has developed Farmer 3.0, a farming model that integrates small scale farmers into commercial supply chains and markets with the aid of disruptive technologies. With the use of digital finance, as well as big data, artificial intelligence, drones and machine learning, farmers are able to reduce inefficiencies in their practices and maximise production as a result.
12. Blockchain to combat fake news: Securing your digital identity is now a priority.
Among its various applications, blockchain technology can underpin online platforms that promote more authentic relationships between users and a healthier social media environment overall.
During 2018, we witnessed the spread of fake news on social media for political purposes. In light of this, technology companies have started developing applications to counter malicious content and bad actors online. One such company is Right of Reply, which is harnessing blockchain to create multiple platforms which can better regulate online interactions.
One way of addressing the fake news problem is to allow opposing ‘sides’ of a story to tell their respective versions within the same platform, to save time and enhance relevance. For this to happen, users need access to mechanisms which can manage their reputations and flag any mention of their names in online content.
RoRkey, Right of Reply’s technology subsidiary, focusses on aligning digital and real identity to allow verifiable identity and truth.
RoRKey offers verified digital reputation identities for registered users (DRI Standard and DRI Pro) which allow them to interact in a secure and protected ecosystem in various social communications and online media content as well as offering a verified ID that can used for different services within Right of Reply and its partners.
DRI Pro utilises a thorough identification process, requiring each user to undergo significant KYC (“know your customer”) and AML (“anti-money laundering”) procedures. This verification process reflects financial service level procedures, and includes the delivery of private and public encryption keys to the registered user.
Right of Reply and RorKey are planning to partner with other third-parties such as financial institutions, utility and insurance companies, online payment platforms, websites and social media to use DRI Pro as the means to prove the user’s digital identity. The plan for for DRI Pro is to become an officially recognized legal proof of ID.
The trends above set the scene for what we can expect in the tech space and the areas where growth and opportunity are brewing.
“Individuals have finally understood that blockchain is so much more than bitcoin and can truly revolutionise the way many industries work. Embracing this technology is not only positive but necessary to survive in an increasingly competitive space,” says Stefania Barbaglio, director of Cassiopeia Services, a leading PR/IR company acting in the blockchain space.
“The key to successful projects is to have strong use cases and applications that can add value to people and society. Innovation is the rule.”