Blockchain and Cryptocurrency 2019 Predictions – Vol. XX

Opinion | January 6, 2019 By:

We continue our series of predictions from the industry’s thought leaders on what may happen in the coming year. 

By almost any measure, 2018 was a challenging year for the blockchain/cryptocurrency industries. Beyond the usual issues facing young businesses in hiring, marketing, technology and financing, companies were engaged in a crisis of confidence with investors, as the crypto markets lost 80 percent of their overall value from the beginning of the year.

Add to that the magic fountain of funding caused by the curtailing of initial coin offerings, increased government scrutiny and outright bans of certain activities, and the bitter battles between technology developers that caused market gyrations, and it’s amazing that any company survived such severe headwinds.

But heading into 2019, the survivors of this industry wide winter are showing faith in the underlying technology of blockchain and the continuing promise of cryptocurrency. They point out that institutional investors are still on the sidelines, and many retail backers are still not in the game in any huge way.

Add that to the continued interest of big businesses and the spirit of innovation shown by blockchain and crypto pioneers, and the story looks a lot brighter than mere numbers would suggest.

Block Tribune asked thought leaders in the industry for their takes on what may happen in the coming year. Now through the end of the month, we’ll spotlight their thoughts on what may happen in what all hope will be a happy and prosperous 2019.

Said Ouissal, Founder & CEO, Zededa:

Which sectors – energy, e-commerce, gambling – do you think will have the biggest impact in the blockchain industry in 2019? (Feel free to choose any other sectors)

Blockchain actually holds a lot of promise for many aspects of Internet of Things (IoT) that don’t necessarily pertain to cryptocurrencies. The concept of distributing trust to a peer-to-peer network is essential in the world of IoT and Edge Computing. ZEDEDA’s vision is to create an edge economy that allows apps to run anywhere. This means moving applications that run in data centers, where there is a single owner of all the infrastructure that provides the app developer with its entire virtual environment, to places where infrastructure is not owned by a single party. This will be an extremely diverse environment- comprised of different hardware, different networks, etc. – that first needs a platform to abstract out the complexity and allows the apps to ask for “services” that it can trust; analogous to how one spins up an environment in AWS (but in that case trust is inherent to “I trust AWS”). That makes the edge a “cloud native” edge.

How does blockchain fit into this edge economy? Two aspects – data provenance as well as value exchange.

In the area of data provenance, the platform running the cloud native edge should inherently look to be able to track immutably who is creating the data, when it was created, and as the owner of that data what the owner’s rights are  with regards to manipulating the data. A data provenance service would allow an app developer to add devices to the network and have every piece of data tracked, enabling that data to be accessed by others, but not without express permission of the originator. This service can be provided to that app by a platform via smart contracts and blockchain. For example, today there are farm equipment companies offering IoT services and apps to improve farming using the data collected, as well as data from other users in the area – hyper-local. But today, without blockchain, the only way the app provider can use the data in this way is to have the farmer sign a EULA (end user licensing agreement) that says “whatever you generate on this service belongs to me…” and the customer loses ownership of the data. If the app was built on a platform using the blockchain with smart contracts, every piece of data generated on my farm becomes identifiable and if I choose to leave the service, my data comes with me and/or can easily be deleted.

Value exchange is actually very compelling for IoT. We can take a Public Safety application in a Smart City as an example. If I have a facial recognition app in my Police Force and there is a dangerous criminal on the loose. The city will have cameras they own, cameras owned by utilities and cameras owned by private companies. The owners can all have platform-enabled cameras using the blockchain network. As use of the cameras for the Public Safety app has value, I can “pay” all the camera owners to allow use of the cameras, to run the facial recognition app temporarily, to help catch the criminal. Once the job is done, cameras are released and everyone is compensated for the use of their assets instantly. Smart Cities are a good example because typically the problem with investing public money for this type of infrastructure has terrible ROI as the asset sits unused the vast majority of the time. This would allow very efficient use of funds as the city can develop applications and pay only for the “cloud native” resources required rather than deploying their own assets (sound familiar?).

This is the vision of the edge economy – a diverse hardware environment, with a diverse set of asset owners, application developers that want access to the data and an efficient platform for all of them to meet peer-to-peer. It’s an ideal environment for blockchain services.

Riggs Eckelberry, CEO of  OriginClear and chairman of WaterChain:

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Where do you see Bitcoin heading in 2019 and why?

ANSWER: Bitcoin is a world brand, so it has excellent long-term prospects. 2019 will be the year of consolidation, as mainstream trading platforms (Robinhood, Ameritrade) enable BTC trading.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Have recent crypto plunges affected your outlook and/or plans for 2019?

ANSWER: We are already way ahead of this wave, since we have been actively positioning ourselves to be part of the next generation of securities-compliant issuances in 2019.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What role will stablecoins have in the market in 2019?

ANSWER: We always needed Stablecoins, but they are only now becoming more reliable. They are absolutely essential to an orderly market and will help stabilize things with the main exchange currencies. Having said that, expect a shakeout. How many stable coins can there be?

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Which sectors – energy, e-commerce, gambling – do you think will have the biggest impact in the blockchain industry in 2019? 

ANSWER: We are very bullish on commodities. Alex Lightman has the cobalt coin and favors CFTC (commodities) regulation. This is interesting. Also, blockchain applied to large asset classes in which a static registry (think real estate) is valuable. Fast-moving applications like e-commerce and gambling are really cryptocurrency plays that happen to use blockchain. Over time, we think that cryptocurrency is more consequent than blockchain itself.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What event would you like to see happen in 2019?

ANSWER: Let’s properly launch the securities-compliant cryptocurrency marketplace so that investors are finally protected.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Is the ICO dead as an effective fundraiser? Why or why not?

ANSWER: ICOs specifically are part of history. But in general, a coin or token issuance can be a legitimate way to get funded. But we don’t know how we would be getting WaterChain funded if it weren’t for its connection to a publicly traded stock, OCLN.