When writing about cryptocurrency or blockchain technology predictions the fear that you will become that guy who stated in the early 1900’s that “everything that can be invented, has been invented” and in the process, being completely wrong and being held responsible forevermore.
That said, there are some obvious trends that look to become a permanent fixture in the digital future of the modern world. Some are obvious, some are indirect and will take more time. Adoption and greater institutional investment to make them happen will occur so turn your back on cryptocurrencies at your peril.
Everybody has learned the hard away about Cryptoassets and their pump and dump volatility and there will be melt-downs, but expect an overall increase in value, as long as innovation, interest and hype continue. That said, in any inception of new asset classes or change to society it’s the functionality and application that will drive the growth. XRP or Ripple will lead the way in seeing a flood of institutional, retail and family office money entering the money market. Over the next few years, most of the cryptocurrencies in the top 10 will be superseded by platforms that have more powerful uses.
Blockchain promises to transform 10 major industries: financial services, retail and consumer goods, government and democracy, energy, higher education, transportation, manufacturing, media and telecommunications, technology and healthcare. In simple terms, if you see a doctor and they refer you to a specialist or 3rd party, the blockchain will centralize all your personal, private medical information neatly and securely so all parties can see the necessary data. In short, appointments can be organized or declined quicker, medication prescribed, ordered and delivered faster and patient care and service given and received more efficiently.
The greatest value for the top tech companies is the brokering of all information and content onto one platform to bring buyer/seller (Amazon), renter/landlord (Air BnB) or artist/listener (Spotify). It will be the crypto tech from the likes of Ethereum starting the trend and providing the right technology to build and change the world. New platforms to watch in 2018 include Cosmos, Aion, ICON, and Polkadot.
Despite numerous bans in certain countries of ICOs and websites not allowing the advertisement of ICOs, there will be plenty of opportunities for new ICOs where tokens represent something of value other than a stake of ownership in a company. Here’s the scenario – $10 billion ICO from Amazon. Most people who know and love Amazon, can’t buy a share in the company because its $1000+ or because they live in places like outer Africa or countries on the sanction list.
However, they’d love to be part of the community and have a stake in the future of the company and could easily put up $1.00 for an Amazon style Coin. This smart security could simply represent simple ownership in a new product, or in the company itself. Its global crowd funding and everyone will want to get on board.
The CIA and FBI went on record to say they couldn’t believe how the average person was willing to submit their personal data and life stories when Facebook and LinkedIn arrived. People will use blockchain to create a personal “digital black box”. The secure data can then be used by the owner as they see fit. Even sell access to, if they wish so. The two key words are authority and autonomy.
We constantly pontificate about the Financial institutions like Banks, Family offices and Funds investing in cryptocurrency but allow for the heavily cash rich likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple to get involved in blockchain technologies. An existing client base, lots of cash and no regulation-based agenda regarding financial transactions means a Facebook will undoubtedly explore cryptocurrency payments within the Messenger platform or some other token-related initiative will appear.
A real-world example will be if I owe you £20, I can wire it over to you “Facebook account” using “Facebook Coin”. I wouldn’t be surprised if some coins get acquired and re branded.
Fiat money is a currency that a government has declared to be legal tender but is not backed by a physical commodity, such as gold or silver. Fiat money is based solely on the faith and credit of the economy. This already exists, but importantly in 2018 a growing number of larger retailers and service providers will accept bitcoin (and cryptocurrency in general) as payment.
A constant need to meet quarterly analyst expectations, meet internal targets and impress shareholders means a struggling business in a competitive market will do anything to bring some revenue on the balance sheet. It will start at the smaller, non-significant end like an edgy hipster café but soon enough it will be on the high street. Volatility needs to calm but the potential is there.
When you’re witnessing $1 billion+ ICOs and thousands of regular people are investing their income, regulation is needed and helpful. People could blow their life savings or pension and that is a real risk and problem for a social, especially when the poor, weak or thoughtless think they can gamble their way to a better life. In a sphere where anonymity and de regulation are an attractive selling point, centralized governmental regulation is something that will just have to be accepted. No credible asset class or industry is without it.
Jay Clayton, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US, said:
“I believe that initial coin offerings—whether they represent offerings of securities or not—can be effective ways for entrepreneurs and others to raise funding, including for innovative projects.”
2018 could see distributed energy and peer-to-peer trading of energy tokens generated from sustainable sources. A new way of asking you to go paperless. Blockchain or smart contracts will enable new enterprises to engage everyone in living more sustainably. Companies are expected to have social responsibility and consider the environment and I envision enterprises balancing excess carbon emissions throughout their supply chains to create carbon neutrality in the manufacturing of products and services.
In a world where the people involved specialize in computers, code and “beating the system” hacks will never stop and exchanges, wallets and applications that don’t evolve and invest will get compromised. That said, consultants, security experts and investment will surface, and crypto cybersecurity will be some of the most robust and uncompromising of any industry. A bit like the human immune system, the most exposure to viruses and bugs, the healthy and fitter you are long term – the more cryptocurrencies and associated parts are attacked, the more impenetrable they will be.