Crypto

A look ahead at blockchain’s next decade

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Jonathan Johnson

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Jonathan Johnson is president of Medici Ventures and CEO of Overstock.com.

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The road to the blockchain revolution has not always been smooth. Most tech experts agree that the potential for new businesses and applications built on distributed ledgers is sky-high, but we are still waiting for that breakthrough year when blockchain transitions from a tech-oriented focus to widespread adoption.

2020 is a new year and the start of a new decade.

I believe we are on the cusp of a blockbuster year for blockchain development and that 2020 will see this technology begin to take its biggest, most world-changing steps yet. As innovators continue to shape the competitive landscape, we will see more products in production and we will begin to see true blockchain-based solutions.

I’ve reached out to some creative and influential thought-leaders in the blockchain space for their predictions for the upcoming year. Their predictions – along with a few of my own — are below.

Products in production

“Those who have been quietly building during the crypto winter will begin to deliver beta and production versions of their platforms. There are many companies that are on the verge of launching their products for the mass market. Those who deliver products that are better than their centralized counterparts will see real adoption. Those that are more complicated for traditional users to implement will arrive, but not see the adoption their communities are hoping for.” — Ben Golub, executive chairman and interim CEO, Storj Labs

“2020 will be the year when software tools (think Stripe, Plaid, Twilio) that exist in the traditional software development stack will be created and adopted in the decentralized software development stack.” — Ben Lambert, principal, Pelion Venture Partners

“Open source projects that use Hyperledger fabric will stay in the lead, not because of resources being injected into it, but because of the volume of overall users and new integrations solving use cases as a proof of concept. In the commercial blockchain environment that does not rely on open source, companies will explore ways to introduce it into their product line while balancing permissions and privacy in a truly decentralized manner.” — Luis Macias, CEO and founder, GrainChain

Regulation

“Between Xi Jinping recently declaring China needs to ‘seize the opportunity of blockchain technology,’ and the continued regulatory uncertainty in the U.S., China will broaden its lead in blockchain relative to the U.S. Until the SEC rolls out more clear guidelines related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain, the U.S. market will continue to stagnate.” — Ben Golub

“SEC enforcement on scammy ICOs from 2017/2018 will continue in 2020 causing further chilling on altcoin trading and increased compliance with existing securities laws. The result: legitimate securities tokens will be a good way to raise capital for unique assets as the regulatory landscape catches up with the technology and a more liquid market for security tokens results.” — Jonathan Johnson

Privacy and security

“Privacy and security will become a key differentiator for incumbents in the cloud. Since its data breach last year, and its Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has become more sensitive to the privacy and security concerns of its users. Privacy and security are now becoming a key differentiator for businesses and it will cause companies in the cloud to start taking a serious look at their security strategies in 2020. It will take much longer than a year for them to solidify and fully deploy their strategies, but 2020 will be the year the conversation begins to shift.” — Ben Golub

Voting

“With a major election year looming, election leaders recognize that there are security threats and opportunities to improve accessibility, so I expect more county and state election officials to use blockchain-based technology to make voting more secure, especially for overseas military members and the disabled community.” — Nimit Sawhey, CEO of Voatz

“Contested elections and delayed election results will increase the calls and pave the way for wider adoption of digital remote voting. More states will look at mobile voting – secured by blockchain technology – to increase voter participation.” — Jonathan Johnson

Identity

“2020 will be the year of the digital identity wallet. Companies are realizing the economic and security advantages of encouraging consumers to use digital wallets to manage their digital credentials. They see digital wallets as an opportunity to reduce risk, comply with new data protection regulations, speed up workflows, and ultimately improve the customer experience. I see all kinds of wallets getting ready for commercial use and envision 2020 to be the year when people begin to start to use digital wallets like they use the physical wallet in their purse or back pocket.” — Heather C. Dahl, CEO & Executive Director of the Sovrin Foundation

“Blockchain identity solutions will make it easier to control your identity. We’ll be able to share only what we need to share about who we are in order to transact with others.” — Jonathan Johnson

Cryptocurrencies, digital currencies and digital assets

“Halo, the Electric Coin Company’s latest zero-knowledge proof breakthrough, will have dramatic ripples through the blockchain space and cryptography in general. Succinct zero-knowledge proofs have already had a massive impact on blockchain privacy, as seen in Zcash, but having the ability to use succinct zero-knowledge proofs to recursively prove others could massively change our ability to scale blockchains at the most fundamental level. I’m definitely eager to see what the applications of Halo look like.” — JT Olio, vice president of engineering, Storj Labs

“50% of the top 20 big banks in the world will actively hold and trade digital assets in 2020.” — Brad Garlinghouse, CEO, Ripple 

“Following in the pioneering footsteps of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, more developing country governments will announce a ‘blessed’ version of their country’s digital currency. Watch for central banks to issue digital fiat currencies.” — Jonathan Johnson

“Emerging markets will increasingly use crypto over fiat for credit in 2020. With rapid adoption of mobile phones in markets like Kenya, Nigeria, parts of LATAM, etc., many are getting financial access for the first time and will turn to crypto not just for payments but for next-gen loan products. These markets also have friendlier regulations toward crypto, which makes them become more attractive to tech companies looking to expand.” — Asheesh Birla, SVP of Product, Ripple

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