Now is that time of year when many of us begin to muse about the twelve months to come and then try to construct a list of meaningful objectives to achieve over the course of the year to come. In the corporate world, this activity is called strategic planning, but even that process must begin from a point of awareness, hopefully provided by insiders and those in the know in your particular industry. In this regard, Forbes interviewed several executives in the crypto ecosphere to hear first hand their take on trends that could shape 2019 and beyond.
The past year, 2018, was tumultuous, including a valuation meltdown, a long and drawn out decline before a bottom formed in December, more stories about fraudulent ICOs and exchange compromises, and, on the bright side, a softening attitude about cryptos from regulators and government officials across the globe. Digital currencies will not replace their fiat cousins as national tender anytime soon, if ever, but they do have a legitimate reason for being, as blockchain developments flourish and mature.
The crypto industry, however, did weather a horrific storm, and the year ahead looks bright with promise. Several major efforts, designed to attend to the needs of large institutional investors will come on stream in the coming year. Coin systems will also deliver a number of enhancements and features to improve their case for being, and a number of ICO development efforts will bear fruit in the form of tangible economic benefits. All in all, several favorable trends are converging in the crypto space, making for an interesting year, as we go forward.
The following executives, however, have a unique perspective on their individual roles in the crypto and blockchain world. We have segregated their remarks into three broad categories – Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, and Tokenization. Here then are the special viewpoints of these important insiders:
Executives see momentum building, as several key events transform the nature of today’s cryptocurrency environment:
“2019 will be an exciting year. We will see several great products shipped to market. The projects and teams who are focused on building and achieving product-market fit will bring more real use cases to our lives. This will open the gateway to the mass adoption of crypto.” – Ella Zhang, Head of Binance Labs
“The first legitimate national cryptocurrency will be launched, linked to a fiat currency from a G-20 nation. Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 New Year’s resolution to “study cryptocurrencies” will result in one being integrated into Facebook for payments. The only question is whether they will use an existing cryptocurrency or a new one created by Facebook.” – Mitch Liu, Theta Labs CEO
“I am sticking to my original prediction – Bitcoin will hit 250k by 2022.” – Tim Draper, American Venture Capitalist, Author, Founder of Draper Associates, DFJ and Draper University
Critics often complain that ICO development efforts have yet to produce the economic benefit to justify the $10 billion raised in the past two years. The memories of these critics, however, appear to be too short in scope. Even the Internet required years of development behind the scenes before it became a cultural phenomenon. In many ways, blockchain technology is similar to the Internet. It is an “enabler” of productivity gains that will only materialize as its use spreads to other sectors of the economy. These executives believe that the incubation period has concluded and that several transformative projects will soon come to fruition:
“The underlying technological innovation continues to evolve and to get better. We have more tools today, documentation, tutorials, and users than ever before and this will continue to grow as the user interfaces become better and more seamless.” – Fabian Vogelsteller, LUKSO CEO and Ethereum developer
“You’ll see blockchain companies with differentiated business models separating themselves from the pack. For the industry to mature and gain legitimacy, the 2018 shakeout had to happen. As you’ve seen with the rise of the internet, e-commerce and just about every other big-thought thing that’s happened in the last 50 years, the gold rush days come to an end, rules get created and people settle down to do real business.” – Justin Sun, TRON CEO and Founder
“We now have scalable blockchains that have no friction (meaning anyone can access it without having tokens) low latency (meaning it’s fast and scalable and can be by many people) with EOS as the first general protocol with many to come. It’s the equivalent of when the first iPhone launched in the App Store.” – Brock Pierce, American Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation and co-founder of EOS Alliance
“Blockchain communities and open source communities will see their lines blurred, as the two become synonymous with one another. Open source has traditionally been on the cutting edge of innovation and has garnered massive interest because of its ability to deliver security through transparency. Decentralization is the latest cutting-edge technology and it shares that same foundational principle of transparency.” – Ben Golub, Storj Interim CEO and Executive Chairman
ICOs will turn a corner and morph into “STOs” or Security Token Offerings. Compliance with security laws is a must for moving forward and reducing the level of fraud that pervades this funding mechanism. The wild funding days are also behind us. Investors will be more discriminating. Consolidation is in order, where the firms with weak business plans will perish or be acquired, while the strong entities will perform and deliver real economic value. As STOs enter the marketplace, more doors to capital creation will open wide and shepherd in a higher level of industry development and maturation. Here is what a few key executives in the funding arena are saying:
“As ICO’s wind down, crypto investors will turn to security token offerings (STO), which have intrinsic value with actual asset backing.” – Jason Hsu, Crypto Congressman, Taiwan Parliament
“I think that the main trend will be securities tokens. The combination of the power of a distributed ledger with more standardized securities will open lots of doors in capital creation. Privacy will continue to be important. There will be an increasing gap between those with solid technology and those with weak, captive networks.” – Bruce Fenton, Founder and Managing Director of Atlantic Financial, Board member of the Bitcoin Foundation and co-founder of the Bitcoin Association
“2019 is going to be another year of building. We’re squarely in the phase in which the crypto space is developing the companies, products, and infrastructure to support the wild valuations we saw in 2017. I expect we’ll see more consolidation, as both companies and funds struggle to raise capital. While this might sound gloomy, I think it’s actually quite healthy. As technology and valuations start to converge at rational levels again, the stage will be set for the industry to enter the next phase of maturity.” – Arianna Simpson, Venture Capitalist and Managing Director at Autonomous Partners
These executives are not starry-eyed crypto zealots from years past. Each of them has earned his or her wisdom from years of firsthand experience on the crypto ground, so to speak. These executives help us to remember that we are still in the very early stages of the maturation process for an innovative technology that will transform our cultural perspective in much the same way as the Internet has over the past two decades. 2019 is shaping up to be a very interesting and transformative year, filled with new products and services, new ideas, and, yes, consolidation on many fronts, a healthy process that always accompanies major change.