As I look back on 2018 – the year I chose to work full-time in the blockchain industry and joined Bloq – I see the fount of innovation that we all witnessed. Institutions started taking blockchain and cryptocurrency seriously, opening incubator after incubator and we’ve some companies, including Fidelity, beginning to build real businesses in this space.. But we haven’t seen anything compared to what I believe 2019 will bring us.
While I expect 2019 will deliver innumerable new ideas and developments for our industry, here is a short list of my humble predictions:
Layer 2 Protocols and Scaling
Blockchain technology is still in its infancy, to say nothing of second layer protocols. Both of these will continue to mature through 2019, as market demand for quick and cheap transactions increases. Ultimately, I expect we’ll see the first, production-level payments company emerge using second layer protocols this year.
Increased Real Asset Tokenization
If 2017-2018 were the years of ICOs, I believe we’ll see 2019 as the year that real-world assets begin to become tokenized en masse. This will increase liquidity, unlock hidden value, and generally provide broader access to these investment opportunities.
I think the most commonly tokenized assets will be precious metals and real estate. Additionally, we’ll start to see many companies engage in security token offerings (STOs).
Tokenization of these assets will start offering greater liquidity in previously illiquid markets.
The Rise of Enterprise Public Blockchain Use
The use cases for permissioned blockchains have struggled in the past, and I see this trend continuing or getting worse in 2019. Companies are directionally correct – blockchain technology is the future for a lot of their mission critical goals – but permissioned chains were easier to swallow with a technology this disruptive. It has been much like the early days of the Internet, where companies shied away from its broader, global implications and, instead, used this world-changing technology as a way to park HR flyers on walled-off “intranets.”
This will be the year that we see companies beginning to realize that public chains can satisfy their needs in greater ways and have significantly more traction outside of PoC stages than permissioned chains.
Regulation Will Still Need to Play Catch-Up
The dreaded “R” word for many, regulation will still trail behind this fast moving industry. While I have the utmost confidence that governments and regulators will eventually get it right (there are some promising bills on the floor of the US congress even), we’ll continue to see regulatory arbitrage and challenges due to antiquated legal opinion.
I admit this category is a little vague, but I expect we will see a use of this technology in a way we haven’t previously thought of. It could be a link between hardware and software for validation of transactions, or it could be the utilization of smartphones for mesh validations. Regardless, we should all keep our eye out for the mixture of blockchain with another type of software or hardware innovation.
Hadley Stern is the Chief Operations Officer for Bloq, Inc.