Looking forward to crypto-ing in 2020? Trends To Expect in The Blockchain Space

This year has seen considerable gains for cryptocurrency industry in terms of prices -- at least compared to 2017. We have had much advances in the blockchain development and investment spaces too, from regulation, to market adoption to investor interests. As 2019 draws to a close and we approach the end of the decade, what will 2020 have in store for the blockchain industry?

In the below comments, we compiled opinions and predictions of many experts in the space about what could be the trend in cryptocurrency and blockchain industry come 2020. The list is packed, starting with Charles Lu, CEO of Findora, a confidential network protocol that enables the seamless, secure, and fully compliant transfer and verification of financial assets, offers his predictions for decentralized finance and blockchain technology. 

Decentralized Finance DeFI

Charles Lu, CEO of Findora, said:

“In 2020, auditable privacy will be a top focus for DeFi, and open finance more broadly. New breakthroughs in zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs), such as Supersonic, will enable auditable privacy, allowing users and financial services to prove that they are compliant without revealing any further information. For instance, a fund manager operating an investment fund can prove to investors that it is only taking a 2% management fee, without revealing any information regarding its trades, investments, or investors’ identities.

Further, blockchain-based financial services will take major steps forward, as an open, universal standard for digital identity and reputation/credit-worthiness begins to emerge. While adoption of DeFi increased in 2019, it is still mostly limited to speculators and crypto-enthusiasts. The primary reason for this is that most systems today fail to integrate user identity and reputation. By introducing financial passports, next-generation identity infrastructure will offer complete user data privacy via selective disclosure credentials. A solid foundation for identity will enable credit and reputation, expanding open finance and banking to real users worldwide. 

Finally, in 2020, we will witness the next stage of enterprise adoption of blockchain technology. With a renewed sense of enthusiasm around blockchain’s deployment at enterprise level, and with many high profile companies leveraging the technology, there will be a pivot towards ensuring transparency, consumer protection, and regulatory compliance as adoption increases.”

 Enterprise Adoption

Christian Hasker, Chief Marketing Officer of  Hedera Hashgraph, said:

“Blockchain and distributed ledger technology is currently squarely in the ‘trough of disillusionment’, as defined by the tried and true Gartner Hype Cycle. This is actually the most exciting time and place to be in the industry, as we are on the cusp of the slope of enlightenment, when people and organizations really learn and begin to use the technology for practical, useful purposes that will change how companies, applications and users interact. We are so excited about the variety and reach of applications currently being built on top of Hedera and other parts of the DLT ecosystem, which go so far beyond what we’ve seen built on top of early generations of blockchain in the past.”

Greg Forst, Director of Marketing at the Factom Protocol, said:

“This time last year, the industry said goodbye to 2018 and hoped that would mark the end of the crypto winter. 2019 has revealed numerous use cases, enterprise adoption, and advancements in the field of distributed ledgers. The most memorable thing about 2019 for the blockchain space will be the speed and sustainability with which it has regained legitimacy in the eyes of governments, enterprises, and institutional players. 

Moving into 2020, I believe this trend will continue. We are highly likely to see huge expansion as blockchain technology moves to enterprise production. We will start to see measurements of the value derived from blockchain being in production environments. The positive results of enterprise blockchain adoption will begin to reveal themselves and will encourage much broader uptake. 

I firmly believe that regulatory clarity is necessary for the industry to progress. In order for blockchain to mature, enterprises and individuals need to feel completely comfortable leveraging this technology, secure in the knowledge that their government and legal systems support them. Countries with trusted and proven regulatory frameworks will set themselves apart and provide a notable example for nations newer to the fold to also regulate the technology. Significantly, I believe 2020 will be a milestone year for advances in sentiment and regulation in the world’s larger and more powerful nations, such as the U.S, which arguably can no longer turn a blind eye to distributed ledger technology.”

Pradeep Goel, CEO of Solve.Care, said:

“2019 was the year where the blockchain industry translated the hype of previous years into practical use cases, with a number of key players emerging to provide solutions for real business problems. In turn, this led to an overall improvement in the understanding and sentiment of blockchain, prompted in part by large-scale adoption by global enterprises, such as Facebook and JP Morgan. A Deloitte report revealed that 34% of companies have already initiated a blockchain deployment, while 86% of leaders are confident that its mainstream penetration is inevitable - results which are clearly indicative of the continued maturation of the market.

Although governments around the world remain centralized, there is still an opportunity to incorporate decentralization into certain aspects. 2020 will certainly see further government integration of blockchain technology in order to process large quantities of data between agencies, services and administrative bodies. Distributed ledgers will be crucial to streamlining interaction and information sharing between these entities. Countries such as China and Estonia are already utilizing blockchain to manage citizens’ healthcare data and create digital identity systems respectively, and we’ll continue to see other governments pilot programs in welfare distribution, e-voting and fraud. 

Existing businesses and enterprises have ultimately recognized blockchain’s dominance beyond digital currency and identified it as a critical priority for the future. Over the next 12 months, these companies will need to analyze their business models, and ask how, as opposed to whether, blockchain is going to disrupt their industries. Mindlessly integrating a new technology piecemeal brings its own specific risks, but those at the forefront of the revolution are creating solid strategies for holistic integration. More specifically, in the intersection of healthcare and blockchain, security balanced with accessibility should take precedent. Healthcare providers need to take advantage of blockchain technology to enrich care coordination, while empowering individuals to take control of their health journeys and personal data. Allowing only those with the requisite permissions access to medical records will improve data security, trust and transparency.”

 Market Movements

Nick Cowan, CEO of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange (GSX) Group, said: 

“This year has been a steady year for the blockchain industry, with a continued arc of growth being powered by wider reach and development across numerous business sectors. Regulation has been a major focal point for many governments seeking to create some clarity, with the UK jurisdiction task force most recently concluding that Cryptoassets, including but not restricted to, virtual currencies, can be treated in principle as property. We have also seen many Central Banks looking into the creation of their own digital currencies and implementation of blockchain technology in their legacy financial ecosystems. 

As we enter into 2020, we can foresee further recognition and understanding of blockchain solutions permeating capital markets. Larger institutions are turning their attention to blockchain, so it’s safe to say that new use-cases will emerge from ongoing DLT exploration at the highest level of industry. These efforts will be geared towards the implementation of securities using the blockchain, playing towards a significantly larger market. The traditional landscape’s legacy system is outdated, inefficient and costly, a system which DLT solutions could completely redefine. 

For us, the integration of DLT solutions into the capital markets is the key priority to drastically improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the current legacy platforms and T+2 model. This vision will ensure the democratisation of the markets and the generation of new, affordable avenues for entities to gain access to capital in a compliant manner.”

Vaibhav Kadikar, CEO and Founder of CloseCross, said:

“After the tumultuous 2019, the digital asset market will mature and bitcoin prices will continue to stabilize. In the new decade, the high volatility of the asset will become a distant memory. Price stabilization will spur a renewed interest from institutional investors to enter the space. Should 2020 bring with it another economic recession, interest in Bitcoin will grow, however, this does not guarantee further adoption contrary to some crypto fanatics. A severe global or national recession could have negative reverberations for the entire crypto ecosystem, as ultimately, it could deter or exclude certain individuals from investing their wealth in the asset class. The long-term future success of Bitcoin needs to be driven by positive fundamentals, as opposed to negative forces.”

Florian Glatz, Co-Founder of Fundament Securities, said: 

“The digitization of national currencies will continue its momentum into 2020 as more central banks and governments warm to the idea. Benoît Cœuré, head of the Innovation Hub at the Bank for International Settlements recently asserted the benefits of digital currency and strong appetite among central banks and the European Central Banks (ECB) with regard to their role in financial intermediation. 2020 will see the People’s Bank of China launch its digital yuan, and the debate for digitizing the Euro will become more acute.

Hype and contention around Libra will not abate but actually, help to strong arm governments into developing an alternative. The benefits of Libra certainly won’t be felt on a global level as purported but likely launch in some backwaters where the immediate impact will actually be felt. 

The G7 will continue to hold steadfast against Libra and the privatization of money throughout 2020 but eventually will cower to central bank digital currencies and stablecoins. Breaking its previous peak, Bitcoin will surpass $20,000 in the new year and growing concerns over the surveillance economy drive people to its anonymity and privacy.”

 Next Generation Blockchain

Jae Kwon, CEO, and Co-Founder of Tendermint Inc (Behind Tendermint and Cosmos), said:

The next generation of blockchains will naturally be a system of independent yet cooperative entities. The ecosystem will be flexible — a multitude of interoperable systems able to fit the contours of the real world rather than the previous one chain to rule them all mentality. Multiple, sovereign blockchain with different applications, political philosophies, and validator sets will be able to interoperate. An open, sovereign, secure network of interconnected blockchains, or “Internet of Blockchains,” will emerge from interoperability protocols like Inter-Blockchain Communication. In the decade ahead, there exists not one monopoly or an oligopoly but a vast federation of networks speaking a common protocol for interoperability. Distributed ledgers will support a new global economy and decentralized finance will reach every corner of the globe. Tokenized derivatives, synthetic instruments, and as-yet unimagined financial instruments stemming from cross-chain collaboration will become realized. 

Lane Rettig, Developer Evangelist at Spacemesh, said:

“2019 was primarily a year of refocus for the industry, as we moved further away from the ICO craze and the opportunistic, quixotic use cases that dominated over the past couple of years. The announcement of Libra was the year’s watershed moment, creating a lot of noise and piquing the interest of the general public. But in the background, a lot of progress was made on important, foundational technologies such as zero knowledge proofs, and we also saw the rapid growth of the Ethereum DeFi ecosystem through the success of projects such as Maker and Compound.

I predict that 2020 will see the launch of multiple ‘third generation’ blockchain projects, an exciting prospect even if only a fraction of these projects go live next year. The next 12 months will be about continuing to generate momentum with a focus on building essential infrastructure for consumer-facing apps that possibly won’t launch for another few years.

Going forward, in order for blockchain platforms and the apps built on top of them to stand a chance of making their mark, improving usability and finding product-market fit must be prioritized far more than they have been to date. This can and, I believe, will engender a significant shift in how users perceive and interact with blockchain. Similarly, blockchain communities will recognize the importance of good governance and will increasingly prioritize it in order to stay competitive and stand out from an increasingly crowded field of competing platforms. As blockchain technology continues to become more prevalent and impacts more industries, I hope that, as a community, we don’t lose sight of the potential for this technology to have a profoundly positive impact on human society at large.”

Nicolas Cantu, Co-Host of Paris Blockchain Week Summit and Co-Founder of Chain Accelerator, said:

"A number of significant milestones emerged regarding the state of the blockchain industry in 2019.The launch of Ethereum 2.0 in 2020 will hopefully benefit from the lessons of version 1, in which we learned that developing strong technical foundations are essential to the success of a chain. The industry has also learned some tough lessons regarding the difficulties surrounding widespread adoption, finding a stronger echo in the daily lives of people will be key to solving this issue–something a corporate model might effectively achieve.

Several notable trends stand out as ones to watch in 2020. The ecosystem of private blockchains will most likely concentrate around IBM. The shift towards decentralized finance (DeFi) projects will likely encounter their first roadblock in the need to show evidence of both resilience and scalability, while such networks provide significant potential to open access to financing, the practicalities require considerable development.

I hope to see 2020 bring a renewed focus on the fundamentals of the industry. Education must be prioritized in every facet of the industry from cybersecurity to business management. On a broader level, I would like to see self-governance move beyond its theoretical roots in the blockchain industry to concrete application in a variety of use-cases and domains."

Regulation of the Industry 

Alexander Schell, Executive Director of the Crypto Valley Association, a leading global blockchain and cryptographic technology ecosystem, said: 

“With new announcements expected from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regarding Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) in Summer 2020, and the impending Bitcoin halving, the first half of next year will see momentum building around key developments such as these. 

The CVA recognizes that the FATF’s updated guidance on the treatment of VASPs, which lays out due diligence measures to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, has posed significant challenges to its members. Increased clarity from the FAFT on its position relating to VASPs globally will be particularly helpful. As the industry focuses on innovation and enterprise adoption, it is imperative that regulators do not implement policy that will create obstacles and stifle the development of the industry.

To ensure the longevity of the blockchain and crypto industry into the next decade and beyond, key players need to work together to prioritize education, ensuring adoption continues to occur on a wider scale. Further, the industry must work to find new use cases that will allow easier access to crypto assets as opposed to the current cumbersome and insecure laptop and hardware wallet combination. Existing products are not sustainable long term and building better user interfaces to provide end users with safe and easy access to digital assets is critical at this point.” 

Dave Hodgson, Director and Co-Founder of NEM Ventures, said: 

“In 2019, we have seen an increase in governments, regulators and central banks engaging with blockchain and crypto in general - sometimes positively and sometimes not so positively. Notably, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations around Know Your Customer (KYC) continues to have an impact on how crypto exchanges operate; the Libra association continues to divide regulators, customers and the crypto industry, and the launch of the first Security Tokens by both major institutions (Societe Generale) and national markets, such as Germany (BitBond), is making waves. Altogether, these movements prove that the industry as a whole is evolving, and, with it, various parties are forced to ask some difficult questions as we gain more regulatory clarification. 

Looking forward to 2020, there are many trends and movements to look out for. Previous Bitcoin halving events have grabbed the public's attention and the technical analysis is lining up to make sure this one is no different. As well, multiple large chains will be releasing significant technology upgrades - Ethereum with ETH2.0 and NEM with Catapult - both in early 2020. I believe we will also witness continued innovation in the DeFi space which is accelerating every quarter now, coupled with increased security token issuance and maturation across the board, and, if the market returns to fundraising, it will be a more well-structured mechanism than last time. We are seeing the fruits of many projects’ labour coming to fruition - with a particular focus on using blockchain for climate-impacting solutions - improving efficiency while decreasing carbonisation and power consumption.” 

Kevin Sekniqi, Co-Founder and Chief Protocol Architect at AVA Labs, said: 

"In 2019, there has been a lot of talk about regulation in the industry - and while this has made headlines globally and caught the attention of several governments, the industry is evidently ripe for regulation granted the number of projects operating in the space. There have been a number of U.S. government bodies that are focusing on creating frameworks, including FinCEN, IRS, SEC and CFTC. While there have been efforts to control the industry in terms of backlash on unclear intentions of projects and lawsuits from different government agencies, it would ultimately be helpful to see frameworks/guidelines made to help foster innovation within the U.S.

In 2020, I believe we will see a resurgence of Security Token Offerings (STOs), that are done at scale and in a manner that is regulatorily sound. I also expect to see a growing trend towards increased tokenization and growth in the issuance, trading and settlement of digital assets using blockchain. 

Our priority moving forward should be making sure we have firm and compliant foundations that foster the creation of new markets. It is imperative that the tech stack is compliant from the ground up in order to be synonymous with market regulatory frameworks. Blockchain can act as a means to democratize trading, by streamlining the creation of new markets, creating more accessibility to assets, to enabling more liquidity for historically illiquid assets. Ultimately, I look forward to seeing this technology being leveraged to create an even playing field for everyone."

David Kariuki

David Kariuki likes to regard himself as a freelance tech journalist who has written and writes widely about a variety of tech issues that affect our society daily, including cryptocurrencies (see cryptomorrow.com and coinpedia.org); climate change (cleanleap.com), OpenSim and virtual reality (see hypergridbusiness.com). He is currently pursuing a MSc in Environmental Management at Open University. He does write here not to offer any investment advise but with the intention of informing audience, and articles in here are of his own opinion. Anyone willing to use any opinion here as advise to invest in crypto should obviously take own responsibility and accountability of their losses (or benefits) thereof. You can reach me at [email protected] or [email protected]

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