Blockchain and cryptocurrencies have long exceeded the novelty status. At the moment, large international corporations look at blockchain as the solution for modern market challenges. At the same time, financial institutions are increasingly open to including cryptocurrencies in their portfolios.
These positive trends will continue and grow even stronger in 2019. As more information is available both at corporate and at layman level, people and institutions discover the benefits of digital currencies. At the same time, we are leaving myths and misconceptions behind and they will probably remain just a short chapter in the history of blockchain and crypto.
Exciting Times Ahead for Crypto and Blockchain Stakeholders
2019 has barely started, but some important developments in the blockchain/crypto world are already set to take place. While some of them have a definite date set, others are still under debate and final fine tuning.
So far, these are the key trends and developments our team has identified for 2019:
1. Faster Speeds for Bitcoin Transactions
The number one technical drawback of Bitcoin transactions will disappear in 2019. Until now, the platform was capable of about 7 transactions per second – a very low speed for the global economy. However, the Lightning Network aims to solve this problem once and for all.
Since its beta launch in 2017, the Lighting Network has proven that it can scale up Bitcoin transactions. This led to an increasing adoption rate for the network during 2018. In response to that, we might see the first full version of the Lightning Network launched later this year.
2. An Increased Demand for Blockchain Specialists
Blockchain technology becomes more and more attractive as a turnkey solution for the problems of companies in various industries. However, these companies demand specialists who can develop, diversify, support and promote this technology. Just like with computing, internet and mobile technologies, blockchain has reached the point when the next growth leap depends on the availability of skilled and experienced professionals.
A first step in this direction is happening in Austria. The Austrian Blockchain Center has recently announced its plans to open the largest blockchain competence centre in the world.
3. A New Ethereum Upgrade
Ethereum is one of the most popular blockchain platforms. The fast growing number of apps and games made many question the scalability of the platform and its ability to keep up with the developers.
The next platform upgrade, titled Constantinople, was set to be launched this January, but was delayed to an unspecified date. According to a Twitter message posted by the Ethereum team, the delay is due to security concerns.
Anyhow, when it does happen, the update should feature:
- Improved blockchain efficiency,
- Reduced block rewards for miners,
- Increased ASIC resistance.
Ethereum should release another update later this year as well. It will include the Casper protocol implementation and sharding. The Casper protocol will switch Ethereum from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake protocol. Sharding will increase the transaction speeds by splitting network resources. Thus, a single node will no longer have to process every transaction in the history in order to perform a new transaction.
4. Decentralised Apps Are on the Rise
At the present time, many applications rely on a single centralised application. This centralised application is prone to represent an ecosystem vulnerability, allowing data tampering before it is recorded in the ledger.
Thus, the trend for 2019 is to create decentralised apps (dApps), which do not have a single point of control. As a result, each member of the ecosystem will run their own app. There are some challenges to building this kind of apps. However, independence from a single point of failure is one of the most important steps for encouraging the adoption of blockchain for business use. Although dApp development is not easy, blockchain technology enables their creation.
5. Crypto Financial Products To Launch on the Stock Markets
Cryptocurrencies become more and more attractive for financial institutions as store of values. Despite the rejection of several proposals for Bitcoin ETFs by the US Securities Exchange Commission, recent developments indicate a growing confidence in cryptocurrencies. One of the SEC commissioners, Hester Peirce, stated that Bitcoin ETF is
definitely possible during a guest interview on the “What the Bitcoin Did” podcast.
In this context of growing confidence, NASDAQ is collaborating with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission for the launch of Bitcoin futures. The digital financial product is set to be launched in Q1 2019.
Also, the Bakkt Bitcoin Futures will be launched in early 2019, after a delay from the original launch date of 12 December 2018.