As 2018 winds down and we review the market’s ups and downs, it only makes sense to predict trends for 2019. This year Blockchain was in the news, daily making leaps and bounds in its advancement, and industry leaders predict that Blockchain’s momentum — and investment in the Blockchain — will continue to surge in and beyond fintech in the new year.
Crowdfund Insider reached out to members of the global fintech industry for their predictions, members overwhelming had more to share about Blockchain and its ecosystem, role in IoT, academia, emerging markets, gaming, decentralization and move away from crypto into other (and all) sectors, such as voting, to insure transparency and security.
Nydia Zhang, Chairman and Co-founder of Social Alpha Foundation, predicted cooperation among major global philanthropies and organizations by utilizing Blockchain:
“2019 will be the year blockchain hits the big time with organisations like the UN, World Bank, and major global philanthropies taking major stakes in using blockchain technology to anchor their initiatives. The price crash in crypto has created a window of focus on the underlying technology that will drive opportunity for billions of unbanked and excluded lives.”
“Expect to see projects ranging from supply chain, identity, transparency, and governance rolling out of the world’s biggest aid organisations, proving the true value of blockchain. While a crypto market rebound may not return us to previous highs, we should see record blockchain adoption from the world’s biggest banks, internet companies and even smaller governments.”
How will regulations come into play in 2019? How do you see blockchain disrupting other sectors?
“2018 has been a rollercoaster of a year for blockchain and crypto, with the focus being very much on market movements and the need for increased regulation in the space. Moving into 2019, and further down the line, I believe we will begin to see a separation between hype and reality,” qiibee CEO and Co-founder anticipates Gabriele Giancola. “We are slowly but surely beginning to witness the gradual disruption of other industries such as retail, education, healthcare, loyalty, banking and finance. Companies are experimenting with new functions of the technology on a daily basis, and the wide range of applications for blockchain is beginning to emerge…”
“As the question moves from ‘What is blockchain?’ to ‘How can we use blockchain technology?’, we will witness an increasing number of private and public institutions exploring its use. In a bid to eliminate inefficiencies and streamline processes within their businesses, we can also expect to see an increase in the number of traditional companies incorporating blockchain technology to provide solutions for everyday business problems.”
What will happen in the future as more and more companies trial and ultimately utilize blockchain?
“As the number of companies trialing the technology increases, ensuring the security and stability of blockchain will be paramount to its success. It is important to remember that blockchain is still a developing technology and issues surrounding its performance and scalability will need to be addressed in order for the technology to have a viable future,” foresees Giancola. “For this reason, regulation for global distributed ledgers and smart contract audits will become increasingly important. I also believe we will see a push toward increased standardisation of platforms and protocols as this is impeding mass adoption of the technology. Governments, financial institutions, and businesses will not be the only organisations utilising the power of blockchain, and I expect next year we will see an increase in the use of blockchain technology.”
Who and what else can blockchain benefit in 2019?
“This year has been dominated by individuals and the media alike being fixated on price. My prediction for 2019 is that the industry will shift its focus toward the real-world problems that blockchain technology can solve, rather than obsess over the success or failure of specific coins, or the up and down of the market,” observed Monax Co-founder and CEO Casey Kuhlman. “As global commerce develops, there is an evident discrepancy between business needs and the providers which seek to operate within it. Taking just one example, the advent of smart contracts offer a technical basis on which scalable, technically enabled legal products can be built and delivered. In 2019, my hope is that we apply the technology not only to the legal sector but to the myriad of industries that can and should benefit from its transparency, speed, efficiency, and reliability.”
What will happen at the cross section of IoT and Blockchain?
“I predict that in 2019, IoT vulnerabilities to hacking will increase substantially as new devices hit the market without adequate protection. Virtual Reality for training and simulation education within enterprises will become the hottest trend for corporate learning organizations, and Augmented Reality wearables will break into the mainstream and help increase productivity,” shared Augmate COO Dana Farbo. “Management for the enterprise will extend to the consumer space for protection and control over IoT devices. Blockchain and distributed ledger technology will become core to the future of voting in countries.”
Vladislav Dramaliev, Head of Digital Marketing at æternity, has hypothesized how Blockchain technology can more forward next year:
“A lack of user-friendliness and mobile support are two significant roadblocks hindering the mass adoption of blockchain technology by the public. For this reason, we expect that more efforts will be focused on improving these aspects of decentralized applications, and convincing prospective mass market users that decentralized applications are straightforward to use and easily accessible in 2019.”
“However, the utility of decentralized applications for the average user is also still unclear. More ways to earn and spend coins and tokens will start to emerge, which will enable users to generate value by participating in more complex digital, decentralized economies.”
Will 2019 be the year we witness mainstream blockchain adoption?
“On the cusp of every new year we ask ourselves ‘will this be the year we witness mainstream adoption?’ Although I would not promise that 2019 is the year, we will see a wave of widespread use cases in 2019 as organisations looking to implement and develop blockchain applications become more focused. So it is very likely that we will see some compelling use cases emerge,” anticipated Zilliqa CEO Xinshu Dong. “As entrepreneurs and enterprises introduce and implement blockchain technology, a major stumbling block the industry faces is the balance between scalability and security. 2019 may indeed be the year we address the existing challenges, see traction for the technology beyond the testnet phase, and welcome many far-reaching dApps.”
Game on… Kevin April, SportsCastr and FanChain CEO, made some Blockchain predictions in the sports industries, including:
“Blockchain-based supply-chain tracking, especially with food, commodities and luxury goods, will become the standard….All major ticket vendors will adopt blockchain technology for enhanced transparency to counter ticket fraud. TicketMaster partnering with UPGRADED was just the tip of the iceberg, and the entire industry is about to switch.”
“The Big 4 in the United States (NHL, MLB, NBA and NFL) and/or their unions will all release blockchain-based collectables based on the idea of digital scarcity. The Dodgers’ digital bobblehead giveaway was first, yet narrow. Expect to see a wave of licensing partnerships that will breath new life into legacy industries including trading cards. As sports betting becomes legal in more states, blockchain will play in important role in powering the back-end of major sports-betting properties. This will be transparent to the end-user and will be largely be powered by proprietary stablecoins.”
And what fun is there making predictions without a moonshot?
“Amazon releases its own cryptocurrency exchange, and Facebook launches its own blockchain that will be used across all its properties,” predicted April.
Is Blockchain just hype? What lies beyond the chain?
“What we saw this year was a rebalancing of the blockchain industry, where the hype of late 2017 was matched against the actual achievable technology. This is something any new emerging technology goes through,” surmised ObEN CEO Nikhil Jain. “In 2019 we will likely see more companies emerging with more mature blockchain products – which will then propel more sustainable growth through both the blockchain community who have weathered the storm in 2018 and also more institutional investors who will be drawn to more mature solutions.”
What are your thoughts about the possibility of a wider decentralisation trend next year?
“I think that what is more interesting is the wider decentralisation trend. The blockchain hype is stagnating, but increasingly the public are realising how centralised platforms are misusing and exposing their data and pattern of life,” indicated Volavia Founder and SeedCloud Co-Founder Graham York. “Recent statements and actions by Tim Cook and Tim Berners Lee back this up. This is the issue I am hearing in every large enterprise engagement within SeedCloud. The blockchain ‘narrow maximalists’ need to embrace wider trends and realise that blockchain itself maybe only be a precursor technology to a wider societal revolution.”
How will Blockchain help lenders in 2019 and beyond?
Blockchain will help lenders reduce real-time loan stacking: The hype around cryptocurrencies is nearly gone, and it’s time to focus on the more interesting part of it – the blockchain technology,” speculated BlueVine Chief Risk Officer Ido Lustig. “In 2019 we expect to see first use-cases of such technology for logging and sharing data among lenders. There is a true potential for real-time data sharing which will help lenders avoid lending to clients which just took similar loans from other lenders, in a decentralized and anonymous way. This will allow the industry to overcome one of the challenges quick loan approvals bring: real time loans stacking.”
What are your thoughts on market cycles and what will happen in 2019?
“If your business model doesn’t account for any sort of hedge against a bear market, then you will be hurting badly, as seen with companies like GigaWatt. It’s unfortunate because much of this infrastructure built up by crypto miners is capable of many options of revenue generation – such as hosting cloud services. It’s been a wake-up call to many to diversify their infrastructure so they may weather the storm more effectively,” explained Node Haven Co-founder Michael Bazzi. “Although, many miners operate at a loss because they believe in the future – miners have been through this before and will prosper. As far as blockchain companies, that bring real value to the world by solving current-day needs, they will absolutely weather any downturn. These downturns typically expose weaknesses in projects while allowing others to rise to the top – as seen in the internet bubble. Ultimately, this can be viewed as a filtration process and each time the market cycle turns bigger and better companies will emerge. Blockchain is here to stay.”
What will happen in the decentralized VPN blockchain sector? According to Mysterium Network Founder Robertas Višinskis,
“As 2018 draws to a close, a highlight for blockchain is how the wider space succeeded in differentiating itself from strictly being associated with cryptocurrency. In 2019, we will see privacy and personal data protection trends continuing to grow in importance. Traditional investors have watched as the bear market took hold of the crypto space in 2018. A more stable crypto market, regulators creating infrastructures within different jurisdictions, as well as emphasizing the importance of cybersecurity could see more traditional investors moving into the blockchain space in 2019. For companies that utilize blockchain heading into the next year, especially if a bear market continues, product-driven companies will have more stability to withstand the turbulence over hype-driven companies.”
Brent Jaciow, Head of Blockchain Affairs at Utopia Music, spoke to how Blockchain make inroads in new sectors and reinforce its relevance in fintech in the upcoming year:
“We will see a lot of buzz in the blockchain space, especially as it relates to security tokens and the new tokenization economy, where once illiquid assets are being made liquid and accessible to nearly all investors. This will create an immense opportunity to allow just about any asset (or idea for that matter) to become investable, crowdfunded or fractionally owned. By increasing the universe of available investors not only will the amounts of investable capital and total number of projects that can be brought to life increase, but also innovation will be greatly enhanced. Though this will also necessitate a large regulatory regime change, as regulatory bodies are forced to find sensible solutions in an evolving sector to ensure investor safety and transparency.”
As for Fintech, Jaciow predicted:
“Blockchain will continue to impact the fintech sector in a number of ways, but most notably we will see the continued move to having clients’ ‘know your client’ and ‘anti-money laundering information stored in a combination of permissioned and open chains. This will rapidly expedite the onboarding of clients to institutions, as well as enhance the user experience as there is no longer a need to fill out paperwork and repeatedly submit documentation.”
Let’s not forget the gaming industry. When Ultra Co-CEO Nicolas Gilot looks into the future, he sees the industry benefiting from the last two years’ progress and big players entering the game:
“Looking ahead to 2019, I believe we will reap the rewards of work put in by industry players, teams, and communities over the past two years. Blockchain technology has a bright future but the road to get there will be full of twists and turns. As with any new and emerging technology, there will be plenty of ups and downs before we see mainstream adoption of the tech, but I believe blockchain will change industries as we know them — everything from finance and banking, to retail, education, healthcare, and entertainment. This will only be made a reality as more traditional, institutional investors begin to enter the space, and over the next 12 months, financial behemoths such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan will play an increasingly influential role in encouraging mainstream adoption of blockchain. As the crypto market continues its bear run, it’s inevitable that we will witness a ‘survival of the fittest’ situation occur, and market stabilization, coupled with less speculation, will be important as we head into 2019… While decentralised exchanges received a lot of hype this year, I don’t believe they will be as big next year with the SEC clamping down on the exchange mechanisms. With that in mind, I believe 2019 will focus more on hybrid systems, or centralized exchanges, that can compile with regulations.”
What’s happening in academia? the ecosystem? Will Blockchain investment opportunities taper? Not yet….
“From an investment perspective, 2019 will be a promising year for blockchain as projects move away from a “blockchain-for-everything” approach to implementation. We will see a more sophisticated industry emerge across a variety of sectors, including identity solutions, gaming and, financial services, — one that has tremendous potential, both jointly and autonomously, for cryptocurrency and its underlying technology. With competitiveness rising, the blockchain industry is bound to undergo some sort of consolidation and the projects best equipped with a “survival of the fittest” mentality are the most likely to succeed,” hypothesized Roger Lim, Founding Partner at NEO Global Capital. “We will also see increased commitment to academia. Higher education institutes such as the University of California, Berkeley and National University of Singapore’s CRYSTAL (Cryptocurrency Strategy, Techniques, and Algorithms) Centre, are already involved in R&D and nurturing developers needed to propel the entire blockchain ecosystem.”
Thinking about Blockchain, what changes have you witnessed in its acceptance? What are your predictions for Blockchain disruption?
“I can see the institutional attitudes towards blockchain continuing to shift in 2019 as rapidly as the technology itself. Mainstream business, traditional finance, and even government institutions will continue to both accept blockchain into their everyday practices, as well as shape its progression through usage and regulation. Developers and the innovative projects they work on will continue to advance blockchain’s capabilities, by creating boundary-pushing proofs-of-concept and new use cases. These, on the other hand, will continue to close the gap between the technology and its centralized competitors. However, I believe the disruption this technology will bring won’t be fully realized over the course of just one year,” speculated Lisk Co-Founder and CEO Max Kordek. “We’re dealing with extremely futuristic propositions here and there is work to do. We must strive to meet industry challenges, such as the lack of formal blockchain education and the need to keep attracting top talent into the industry. Most importantly, however, the blockchain industry needs to continue driving the technology’s research and development and share their cumulative knowledge through a strong, global open-source development culture.”
'...next year there will be more companies in the #blockchain space that will focus on your actual performance, because after all, even today only very few people are interested in what technology Amazon or Netflix is based...' #predictions
Circling back to and closing with the social impact of Blockchain, INVAO Co-founder and CEO Frank Wagner added,
“In 2019 we will begin to witness more acceptance of blockchain- based offerings across various industries. In particular, I believe that the trend of “blockchain for good” will continue to expand in its reach and attract more traditional investors to the crypto space. As lack of accountability is often a barrier to investing in social impact, we will be able to legitimately fundraise through Blockchain in a more transparent way. I also believe that next year there will be more companies in the blockchain space that will focus on your actual performance, because after all, even today only very few people are interested in what technology Amazon or Netflix is based.”