2017 was supposed to be the year that blockchain and cryptocurrency took over the world. Investors poured $6.2 billion into
875 crypto startups.
Bitcoin (a currency my company is invested in) boomed and new coins took the stage. Then, the market crashed — but blockchain didn’t crash with it. On the contrary, the cryptocurrency dip forced the blockchain world into a period of true innovation and product development.
Where news around blockchain used to focus solely on its applications in cryptocurrency, blockchain today imagines a world of incredible possibilities. Industries from finance and energy to artificial intelligence (AI) are exploring new and exciting ways to leverage blockchain technology. As the pace of advancement quickens, businesses will gain access to increasingly powerful blockchain applications.
Here are five predictions for the evolution of blockchain:
1. The U.S. economy’s bull run will end, and crypto interest will soar.
Today, the American economy is enjoying its longest bull run in history. But nothing lasts forever. The good times will soon come to an end, and when that happens, blockchain will be there to attract the interest of investors looking for the next great project or product.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has spoken out about American economic expansion in the face of “unsustainable debt dynamics.” A bear market is coming, and the only question is when.
Cryptocurrencies will provide appealing alternatives to fiat currencies in the inevitable event of a market correction. Thanks to their untethered nature, crypto coins can retain their value far more easily in the face of economic strife. When other currencies falter, people may turn to blockchain to safeguard their savings and move money across borders, strengthening the technology’s footprint while the wider economy struggles.
2. The gaming industry will emerge as a major use case.
Gamers and gaming companies have been comfortable with non-standard digital currencies for years. To them, crypto and blockchain represent a natural evolution of an existing concept. With the rising legitimacy and popularity of esports, the gaming world will lead the way in blockchain’s adoption.
The gaming scene tends to appeal to people with more technological savvy than the general population, which makes gaming the perfect testing ground for new blockchain functionalities. Multiplayer systems, payment structures and game assets could all soon take advantage of blockchain’s capabilities.
Plenty of gaming companies have already tested the waters. Sony plans to launch a blockchain-based video game on the PlayStation 4 this year. Epic Games, the studio behind Fortnite, is researching new ways to incorporate blockchain into gaming experiences. While others talk about the future of blockchain, the gaming industry is already living it.
3. The U.S. will maintain a ‘wait and see’ regulatory approach.
During the internet revolution, America led the way with innovation and investment in the space. Most of the major players either lived in the U.S. or did their best work within its borders. While many other countries are contributing to the rise of blockchain technology, the U.S. will maintain its position as the leader of technological growth — and hands-off regulators will let it happen.
American lawmakers will continue to keep their distance, because the stakes of making the wrong move remain high. No one knows exactly where blockchain will go next, and no one wants to be the person to stand in the way of its progress. Regulators will continue to crack down on scam crypto startups, but legitimate companies in the space can expect plenty of leeway for at least the next few years.
4. Stablecoins will gain popularity.
Stablecoins take crypto’s innovation to the next level. These incredible new manifestations of blockchain power can connect to every type of tradeable asset to increase confidence in nervous and unpredictable financial markets.
In simple terms, stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that tie their values to real-world assets like the U.S. dollar. The Winklevoss twins believe coins like these could represent the future of cryptocurrency because they make it more comfortable for retailers to accept crypto payments and more appealing to investors who don’t place their full trust in liberated currencies like bitcoin.
Governments will have more to do with stablecoins than with other crypto assets. Eventually, stablecoins may even replace traditional fiat currency, but that future remains a long way off.
5. The industry will recognize that blockchain’s ‘killer app isn’t coming.
Ever since blockchain burst onto the scene, investors and inventors have buzzed about the new technology’s killer app — the one shining example of its realized potential. Unfortunately for expectant audiences, that killer app isn’t coming.
Blockchain technology is simply too diverse and too relevant in too many areas to constrain itself to a single killer app. Bitcoin almost held the title in crypto, but the crash of late 2017 brought that dream to a screeching halt.
With that in mind, blockchain and crypto deserve better technologies, and those improvements are on the way. Blockchain does not exist to improve any single experience, but rather to explore the technology’s current inefficiencies and to transform and boost its performance and potential. The world doesn’t need a killer app because blockchain is the killer technology that will provide the foundation for a host of powerful industry game-changers.
The Future of Blockchain
Some of these predictions will come true as early as this year, while others won’t become reality for years to come. Blockchain’s revolution is just beginning, which means change is the only guarantee.