Will 2019 be the year in which Blockchains gain mainstream adoption? Will we find killer apps and use cases in every industry?
Those are the questions you came here for right?!
We’re not here to give you a vague list of ideas or unrealistic promises, just a down-to-earth analysis of what we think the blockchain trends in business will be in 2019.
The “I don’t know what Bitcoin and Blockchain is” box
A Blockchain is best known as one of the building blocks that make cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin work.
A Blockchain is a mechanism that allows participants in a network to make sure they’re looking at the exact same information, without needing to trust others for that.
In the case of Bitcoin, these participants send each other digital assets, bitcoins, and their transactions are permanently recorded in the Bitcoin Blockchain. This ensures that the same person can’t spend their bitcoins twice and allows anyone to verify this.
Traditionally we would trust a middleman, such as a bank, to make sure that transactions are legitimate, but we now have an alternative option.
1. More Digital Asset Services by financial institutions
This trend started in 2018 and will continue in 2019.
While many businesses are looking for new Blockchain use cases, some are simply embracing the already booming and rapidly evolving cryptocurrency market.
Yes, cryptocurrencies have dropped a lot in price in 2018. It’s all the media can talk about really, never the technology!
Despite that, it’s becoming contrarian to be a skeptic rather than the other way around. People realise cryptocurrency is here to stay, even if they don’t use it themselves in the near future.
The user experience of managing your own assets is scary to a lot of people, and there is a strong desire from a business point of view to have custodial services for digital assets.
Financial incumbents recognise this and are building out their services, such as Fidelity’s Digital Asset platform, or the one by ICE (the New York Stock Exchange parent company), Boston Consulting Group, Starbucks and Microsoft, called Bakkt, which is set to launch in January 2019.
Many more will likely follow!
2. Privacy improvements
Privacy is a major challenge for all Blockchains. Transactions can easily be traced and regulated businesses can identify participants who sign up to become clients.
In an Open Blockchain, you don’t want to end up on some government watchlist because someone sent you money that was in the hands of a criminal in the past.
In a Permissioned Blockchain, where only select businesses have access, you don’t want your competitors to see the contents of the information you’re adding to the Blockchain.
Most of the privacy work is being done on Open Blockchains, as developers around the world keep coming up with better solutions. One of these improvements that was created in 2018 has been implemented in the cryptocurrency Monero, with a huge impact on its privacy and scalability.
Privacy enhancements will also be usable for business purposes and open up more possibilities.
3. Better scalability and more micropayments
In 2017, all kinds of Blockchains started to hit their capacity levels as demand outgrew what the networks were capable of.
In 2018, the first steps towards solving these problems were rolled out.
One of these was the widely anticipated release of the Lightning Network on Bitcoin. This network is enabling the first tech-savvy users to route small payments to each other, and only occasionally settling their balances on the underlying Blockchain layer.
In 2019 this technology will become available and user friendly for the average user, with fresh, intuitive interfaces, so we can take small payments off the Blockchain, without major drawbacks!
4. Existing Blockchain projects will get their USP tested
Many of the blockchain projects that have been launched over the past year will find that the world didn’t need a separate token or cryptocurrency to pay their dentist or to send micropayments to content creators.
We can do these things with just one cryptocurrency.
As a result, some of these companies are already getting hurt as they fail to keep investors interested in single-purpose currencies.
5. More timestamping use cases
Due to their tamper-resistant design, Blockchains are proving to be useful places to store proof of certain data at a specific point in time.
In 2019, we expect more businesses and governments to make use of this low-hanging fruit, if they take the time to learn how to implement it.
6. Data on the impact of the “Oracle problem” on supply chain solutions
Blockchains are widely anticipated to revolutionise the way we trace goods throughout supply chains. In theory this would create transparency for everyone involved.
Many of the biggest food-related companies in the world like Walmart and Nestle are trying to create solutions for this.
The problem with these ideas is that a Blockchain doesn’t know what happens in the real world. It needs an “Oracle” to tell it the truth.
This means that someone needs to link physical objects to digital assets on a Blockchain, which makes this person a weak and corruptible link in the system.
Any other solution such as sensors or physical tags are too easily corruptible and don’t solve this problem.
On a technological level, there are challenges involved in making this work, but if we get insights in whether a blockchain solves more problems for this industry than it creates, it could be worthwhile.
The only way for us to know is if large companies share data from their initial experiments.
7. Tokenisation in Real Estate
Today the real-estate market is not accessible to small investors.
By putting shares in real-estate on a Blockchain, it becomes much easier and faster for a larger group of people to invest and exchange ownership of small parts of a building.
Some more examples of how this is being implemented in this Forbes article.
8. Advances in Decentralised Identity
In 2018, many large platforms breached their users’ trust or got hacked.
As a reaction to this, there is a growing desire for a digital identity. This would allow the user to control who gets access to which data.
This concept won’t appeal to everyone, which is fine! Cryptocurrency doesn’t either. It’s simply a developing alternative that provides people with a choice.
We expect the first version of this technology is to become available in 2019. This will teach us a lot about the user experience and open up new doors for use cases!
Blockchain in Business - Watch the Space!
There you have it, our list of 8 blockchain in business trends in 2019. We expect many more unexpected “Black Swan” events to surprise us and give us lots of interesting stuff to learn about.
Want to dive into all of this and more? Check out our 2-day Blockchain for Business Crash Course 👇