New Year Special
The digital currency space has seen rapid growth and expansion in 2019, with heightened interest from governments and global corporations. Cryptos recovered from the 2018 bear market, when with Bitcoin (BTC) crashed to as low as $3,800, leaving numerous experts to paint a gloomy picture of a longstanding bear market and call the downturn in the first half of 2019 the longest and harshest in the crypto history. While cryptocurrency markets were struggling to recover, corporate and central bank digital currencies have quietly become a focus of attention.
The blockchain sector has seen exponential growth in 2019, as it became recognized by governments and institutions around the world as a transformative technology. This year, blockchain adoption reached new highs as it continued to find new use cases. News broke with an array of exciting blockchain-related developments, with the United Nations-led International Organization for Migration launching a blockchain tool to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers, and Chinese President Xi Jinping giving a seminal public endorsement of blockchain technology.
As 2019 came to a close, Cointelegraph reached out to industry leaders and key influencers to ask them what their New Year’s wish was for the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries.
Erik Voorhees, founder and CEO of ShapeShift, a Swiss-based instant crypto exchange.
“For 2020, I’d like to see perception of crypto assets return back to a balanced state. By this I mean, in 2017 every crypto in existence was worth a gazillion dollars (which was crazy), and in 2018/2019, there has been a similarly overly pessimistic view (anything other than Bitcoin is worthless). Both extremes are misguided, so I’d like to see the quality projects start to be differentiated more clearly from the garbage projects.”
Vorhees has previously stated that cycles of price bubbles are necessary for the industry to grow. In May 2019, he said that in order for Bitcoin to become a trillion-dollar asset, “there have to be bubbles in crypto because crypto is taking over the world, and it’s not just going to advance 5% per month without end.”
Valery Vavilov, co-founder and CEO of Bitfury Group, the largest non-Chinese Bitcoin blockchain software development company.
“I hope that more people, companies and governments around the world will choose to do good, driven by inner values that focus on making the world more trusted, livable and secure for all of us.”
In 2019, Bitfury reiterated its status as one of the world's top fintech firms, having been included on the Forbes 2019 “Fintech 50” list and procuring regulatory approval for a Bitcoin mining fund for institutional investors.
Ethan Beard, SVP of Xpring, a Ripple initiative that invests, incubates and provides grants to tech startups.
“Moving into 2020, my hope is that we’ll see more developers building on the XRP Ledger and Interledger Protocol as Xpring pushes to make integrating money into applications easy for the more than 23M developers worldwide. Xpring will continue to make strategic partnerships in the global blockchain and crypto ecosystem and push updates to the Xpring platform to help further this vision.
“I hope to see more financial institutions holding and trading digital assets in 2020, with at least half of the top 20 global banks leveraging digital assets in some form. My wish is that this trend will expand to other global markets outside the G20.
“I wish to see a blockchain-based game launch in 2020, reaching broad adoption that allows users to buy and sell virtual goods and capitalize on tokenized assets. Blockchain provides opportunities to reinvent the business model for games.”
Last year, Xpring continued massively investing in blockchain-focused companies and projects, as well as expanding its international presence by acquiring an Iceland-based crypto trading firm.
Daniel Larimer, CTO at Block.one, an open-source software publisher and the company behind the EOSIO network.
Discussing Block.one's vision for 2020 and beyond, Larimer said that his key focus is integrity, and that blockchain's inherent qualities lend itself to being used to create integrity by design.
"We want to collaborate and work with everyone in the ecosystem that's pushing forward technologies that facilitate integrity in society. Instead of 'don't be evil,' we're going to create systems where we CAN'T be evil. There's a lot of tribalism in the cryptocurrency space. At the end of the day, if blockchain wins, we all win.”
In 2019, Block.one opened new headquarters in Washington, D.C., launched the beta version of EOS-based social media platform Voice and inspired the Marshall Islands to develop its own national digital currency.
Alex Mashinsky, founder and CEO of Celsius Network, a decentralized lending and borrowing platform.
“I know our crypto community is not currently equally distributed and I would like to see more women join us to reach half of the community. I would also like for some of the projects to hit mass scale and deliver mass adoption.”
Speaking at Elev8con in December, Mashinsky also said that blockchain tech could help fight the centralization of social media networks, which he claims has resulted in the increase of fake news. He said that someday, “the entire Internet will become an application on the blockchain.”
Last year, Celcius began managing the Sustainable Development Goals Impact Fund within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals initiative.
Diogo Monica, co-founder and president of Anchorage, an institutional crypto custody provider. In 2019, Anchorage became the first qualified entity to support institutional custody for Telegram’s Gram token, and raised $40 million from a number of high-profile investors.
“2020 presents an opportunity for maturing stable digital currencies to become usable, fungible money for people worldwide. No cryptocurrency to date has become the medium of exchange people use in the way they use digital payments like Cash App and Square Pay, and we see a unique opportunity ahead.”
Andy Cheung, former head of operations at OKEx, a Malta-based digital currency trading platform.
“My wishes are 1) for cryptocurrency exchanges to work together to service the massive underbanked and unbanked community across the globe. 2) For governments to understand the needs of the blockchain community and work to support more innovation in this space, and 3) to see a world where individuals are in control of their financial assets without intermediaries.”
During the last year, OKEx revealed a number of developments, including the establishment of a self-regulatory organization aiming to standardize crypto exchange compliance practices and policies, and the launch of a comprehensive data insights platform that covers trading trends for derivatives.
Richard Dennis, founder and CEO of TemTum, a scalable blockchain network and quantum-secure cryptocurrency.
“As we prepare to enter a new decade, my wish for the crypto space is that all projects work to achieve better resource efficiency, better security and an improved user experience so that everyone can reap the benefits of the economic freedom that comes with crypto.”
At the end of 2019, in an expert take for Cointelegraph, Dennis wrote that quantum supremacy is officially here, and that 2020 could be an even bigger year for the looming prospect of quantum computing. “If we start now on a security framework for quantum, we might just be able to maintain the integrity so vital to keeping the internet, cryptocurrencies and our other vital connected technologies working as they should,” he noted.
Tal Kol, co-founder of Orbs, a public blockchain for building apps and smart contracts. In 2019, Orbs partnered with South Korea’s largest online bookstore, Yes24, and collaborated with Celsius and BitGo.
“I would like to have the industry showcase use-cases in production that solve every-day problems and are relevant. Specifically, I hope to showcase how blockchain is relevant for the 2020 elections. In November we were honored to be one of the few projects presenting to the Congressional Blockchain Caucus at the Blockchain on the Hill event organized by the Global blockchain Business Council (GBBC). The event came at the request of members of Congress who wanted to hear about use-cases aside from cryptocurrencies and financials. The use-case we presented was the blockchain-based solution for digital content authentication — a solution that can help with copyright protection, but equally interesting — fighting fake users and fake content.”
Robert Beadles, president of Monarch Blockchain Corporation, a cryptocurrency company and developer of the cryptocurrency payment solution Monarch Wallet.
“I wish for the US government to make regulations clear and to embrace this new technology and the entrepreneurs developing it. I wish for a 10 percent flat tax on all cryptocurrency uses and gains. And I wish for the Monarch Wallet to be the blockchain wallet for the world, used everywhere and by everyone.”
Last year, Monarch launched a decentralized recurring cryptocurrency payments system and partnered with Celsius Network to enable crypto holders to earn interest on their assets through a “savings account” feature on Monarch’s platform.
In 2020, will international regulators give the green light for Facebook's Libra stablecoin? Will China come closer to launching its national digital currency? How will developers make blockchain protocols more scalable and interoperable?
The coming year seems promising for the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries, which will continue to grow with more inclusion and more use cases. Stay updated on current events in the space with the industry's leading publication, Cointelegraph.