crypto mainstream

To round out the year, we asked our Block Explorer writers to tell us what they’re most excited about for blockchain and crypto in 2019. In this piece, Ana Balashova looks at the startups hoping to take crypto mainstream, as well as the tokenization of assets and next-generation blockchain projects.

This year wasn’t all cuddly and fluffy for crypto. The fearsome bear entered the market and trampled everyone’s dreams of becoming a billionaire in a couple of months. And although crashes aren’t new to crypto, this year things are a bit different: many more people are involved and larger mainstream brands are embracing digital money as payment. 

Banks, governments, and regulators are accepting the fact that bitcoin is here to stay. All of that makes me seriously enthusiastic about crypto in 2019. Here’s the list of the things I’ll keep my eye on:

Universal Crypto Solutions

Even though Coinbase has more than 20 million users and Blockchain.com boasts more than 31 million registered wallets, crypto is still far away from mass adoption. And the convenience of using it is still only appreciated by the more techy part of the population. 

Real-life example: if my mom would like to purchase bitcoin she always has to ask me to do that. And she is quite capable of using traditional plastic cards or other financial services like money transfer through a mobile app on her phone.

So, there’s still room for improvement in creating those universal solutions, both for consumers and business. One that will work internationally and will allow seamless transactions from crypto to fiat and back. One that boasts a super intuitive interface and straightforward features. That’s why I am quite curious to follow Abra, Blockchain, Purse, Bread, Ethos, EOS Lynx, STK, Metal, PundiX, Request Network, Monetha and all the numerous projects in the field.

Pundi x
A Pundi X point-of-sale solution

Securitization and Legal Clarity

Authorities of various countries are cooking up all sorts of crypto regulatory frameworks. The choice of crypto-friendly countries is growing (Malta? Gibraltar? Finland?) That alone makes the existence and the future perspectives for cryptocurrencies much more compelling. 

Even without proper regulations, as much as $22 billion was raised in Initial Coin Offerings in 2018 according to Bloomberg’s numbers.

There are a lot of question marks about those projects. However, the development of the legal side of the story will most likely make a positive impact on the industry. Not to mention the whole new infrastructural solutions that have to be evolved to make it work: properly regulated crypto exchanges, platforms for legal Security Token Offerings, the whole bunch of wallets for securitized assets, etc.

As for now, savvy entrepreneurs with successful track records in the business world are joining the bubbling startups in the crypto space or collaborating on ones. Like Overstock.com (OSTK at Nasdaq, with a market capitalization of more than $420 million at the time of writing) and its founder Patrick Byrne who is planning to sell Overstock’s retail business to fund a crypto platform, tZERO.

Some real-deal startups are also considering new cryptocurrency financing opportunities, like Spin, an electric scooter startup from San Francisco. During this summer, the team planned to launch a security token offering, although they ended up selling their operations to Ford for around $100 million. 

That all adds up to bringing digital currencies from the world of tooth fairies and leprechauns to reality. 

Making Blockchain Great Again

In spite of all the awesomeness of distributed ledger technologies, there is always someone to complain. The transactions on Bitcoin blockchain are getting too expensive, or Ethereum got all clogged again because of a popular token sale, Cryptokitties, decentralized exchanges vulnerabilities, and so on.

So all the tools and projects that are supposed to improve what we have so far and to solve all related problems – is something I am personally very interested in. 

And, just to clarify, when I mention “problems”, I am talking about things like scalability,  interoperability, transaction costs, blockchain developers education, etc. Some of the exciting projects working on these problems are EOS, Aion, Wanchain, Ethereum, POA network, Zilliqa, and others).  

Zilliqa is one of the first to implement experimental sharding technology to achieve huge throughput

Tokenization of Assets 

As we know, one of the first applications of blockchain technology was digital money. And the fact that it created so much convenience, transparency, and speed of actual ownership made “tokenization” a viable technology for other assets. 

We could see gold -backed tokens (like OneGram, Goldmint, etc.), natural resources backed tokens (e.g. Petro, Venezuela’s controversial cryptocurrency backed by oil), and so much more than that. 

With the further development of crypto-related regulations and taxes, more projects tokenizing real estate, pieces of art, rare cars, shares in Silicon Valley startups etc., will pop up. 

And the fun has already begun. In October, Forbes announced the first tokenized real estate project in New York, ran by Propellr, the platform for digital assets management and Fluidity, the trading and tokenizing solution.  

It’s already possible to purchase a share of ownership of off-campus housing for students at the University of South Carolina. The cost per share is $21,000. Currently, those are being sold by Harbor, the blockchain startup which raised $28 million of venture capital in a fully compliant security token offering earlier this year. 

And if you are looking for more affordable ownership options, there’s something interesting offered by Brickblock. The project in development is a 50-unit residential property in the UK. The team is raising £3.35 million by selling tokenized shares valued at £34 per pop. 

There are also some moves in the art world. 31.5% ownership of Andy Warhol’s “14 Small Electric Chairs” was recently sold at an auction run by blockchain startup Maecenas this summer. The total value of the sold tokens was $1.7 million with the total estimated worth of the artwork of $5.6 million.  

Tokenization of Real Estate on Mars?

I trust that weirder things will find their way to fully compliant blockchain existence. And we might be able to purchase frozen brain cells and other vital organs, square meters and milliseconds in cryogenic cameras, a fraction of space trip tickets (or maybe partial ownership of a cozy industrial loft on Mars), and the list goes on. I can’t wait! 

And what are you excited the most?  Go ahead and share it in the comment section below. 

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Undoubtedly, the cryptocurrency market has not been kind to traders in 2018. All but a few cryptos have gone down in market cap. Still, some have fared better than others. In this article, we’ll look at the strongest cryptocurrencies in 2018. 

Best-Performing Cryptocurrencies, Criteria: 

  • This list only includes coins in top 100 by market capitalization, thereby excluding lower-ranked altcoins. 
  • We exclude all stablecoins pegged to another asset, such as Tether, PAX, and Dai.
  • We exclude any project that hasn’t been around for at least six months.
  • All prices sourced from CoinCodex, tracked from January 1st, and ranked by percentage fall in market capitalization. 
  • All prices correct at time of publishing (11th December, 2018).

Want to see the worst performing cryptocurrencies of 2018? Click here to see the biggest fallers.

10. Global Utility Token (OKB) -55.74%

Global Utility Token (OKB) is the native exchange cryptocurrency for OKEx. This exchange regularly ranks in the top three by 24-hour trading volume. Some applications for OKB include the OKB trading market, new listing vote, designated merchant privileges, and more. The exchange has made a few major moves in 2018 like announcing its operations expansion to Malta in April and adding several new stablecoins in October.

OKB

9. 0x (ZRX) -55.23% 

ZRX is the native cryptocurrency for 0x a project that aims to power decnetralized exchanges for just about anything. The project has even built its own decentralized exchange (DEX) called 0x OTC. One of the biggest supporting factors for the ZRX price this year was the token’s listing on Coinbase in October 2018.

0x

8. Ravencoin (RVN) -54.46%

Ravencoin (RVN) has done a decent job of meeting technical milestones. Ravencoin utilizes a use-specific blockchain that is “designed to efficiently handle one specific function: the transfer of assets from one party to another.” 

In October 2018, RVN began an upward price trend, 118% sustained growth over the course of one week. This was likely due to its listing on Binance and anticipation of the mainnet launch. Still, RVN prices have fallen somewhat since that time.

ravencoin

7. Holo (HOT) -53.56%

Holo (HOT) hasn’t been around all that long, with its ICO only ending in April 2018. This means that this cryptocurrency, unlike many others, didn’t have have to experience the major dip that began in January 2018. The main objective of this project is to create a bridge for greater and greater decentralization and autonomy over time. Essentially, its technology aims to help centralized systems to become 100% decentralized. 

The project has gained some momentum, mainly due to continued discussions about the progress of a partnership with Mozilla. Although there is no info from Mozilla that says this is official, the Holo team has said there probably won’t be an official announcement until after the initial product release of Holo, which should be sometime in Q1 2019.

holo (hot)

6. Loom Network (LOOM) -48.59%

Loom (LOOM) is designed specifically for games and social apps. The blockchain is developer-friendly in a bid to lure the most creative minds to the platform. Loom calls itself a “build your own blockchain” generator allowing developers to easily build dapps on their own sidechain of Ethereum. 

We all know that Ethereum has a scaling problem when it comes to running applications. Loom aims to fix that by providing a fast, scaled-up solution. The LOOM token acts as a membership pass, granting access to the suite of games and dapps.

Loom network

5. Pundi X (NPXS) -46.86%

Pundi X (NPXS) is creating a blockchain-based point-of-sale solution for retail businesses. Since August 2018, the project team has already shipped 5,000 XPOS (Pundi X Point of Sale devices) to various countries throughout the globe. 

In October 2018, the project made a major announcement. The project, together with Dubai’s official government credit bureau and regional distribution partners, is bringing XPOS to hundreds of storefronts across the city. In November 2018, Pundi X partnered with Singapore-based Quantum Energy Asset Management (QEAM) to launch a $100-million blockchain fund, which is expected to officially launch in January 2019.

Pundi x

4. Binance Coin (BNB) -43.65%

Binance Coin (BNB) is the third native exchange cryptocurrency to make this list. Binance’s ability to maintain its status as the world’s largest crypto-to-crypto exchange (by trading volume) has likely supported BNB prices.

The initial use-case for BNB was to pay fees on the Binance exchange, but there are bigger plans ahead. BNB is expanding to allow users to pay for goods and services, such as hotels. Most Binance employees even receive their salary (or parts of it) in BNB.

A lot of momentum around BNB is also likely due to more recent announcements. In December 2018, Binance developers released a second demo video for Binance DEX. The exchange is looking to launch its DEX platform sometime in early 2019. The exchange is also developing its own blockchain called “Binance Chain”.

binance coin

3. Decentraland (MANA) -42.53%

Decentraland (MANA) aims to become one of the most interesting and innovative use cases on the market. The Decentraland project team is building a VR world where users can use MANA as well as create their own 3D houses, banks, casinos, resorts, businesses, and more.

Even though the Decentraland platform isn’t yet operational, there has been a good bit of progress in 2018. For example, in November 2018, the project partnered with Ripio Credit Network (RCN) to provide smart contract-based mortgages for purchasing Decentraland LAND. Axie Infinity, another popular blockchain game, also announced a partnership with Decentraland in November 2018.

Decentraland just launched its second “land auction” to sell off 9,000+ parcels of virtual reality land.

Decentraland-Blockchain-VR

2. Huobi Token (HT) -19%

Huobi Token (HT), which launched in January 2018, marks the fourth (and highest-ranked) native exchange cryptocurrency featured in this list. HT was initially created and “distributed to paid Huobi VIP members in response to China’s crypto ban and decreased trading activity”. Compared to BNB, HT is a much newer cryptocurrency. 

In fact, HT was modeled on the success of BNB as a native exchange token and has similar functionalities. For example, like BNB for Binance, the Huobi exchange uses HT as an option for traders wanting to decrease exchange transaction fees. The company also has regular HT buyback/burn events.

huobi token

1. ODEM (ODE) +197%

ODEM (ODE), which launched in April 2018, has done well in recent bear market months. This cryptocurrency is part of a blockchain platform that aims to change the future of education and certifications. According to the project website, the platform will be a place where “students and student representatives can create and request services for education programs. Educators and educational service providers can receive requests for program fulfillment and delivery services.” 

In terms of technical deliverables, the project has made a lot of progress in a short amount of time. For example, smart contracts are already live on the mainnet, and there will be a full launch sometime in Q1 2019.

ODEM token

Conclusion

It’s been a rollercoaster year dominated by negativity and price crashes. However, these projects prove that hard work is going on behind the scenes. Passionate teams are building amazing things in blockchain. When the dust settles, these may be the projects that survive and shape the industry going forward.

Crypto Curious? Subscribe to the Block Explorer newsletter to get exclusive crypto insights before they appear on the site.

blockchain charity donations

To round out the year, we asked our Block Explorer writers to tell us what they’re most excited about for blockchain and crypto in 2019. In this piece, Rebecca Campbell explores the potential for blockchain to bring transparency to charitable giving.

As 2018 draws to a close, a look back at the last 12 months has been anything but smooth for the cryptocurrency market.

This time last year, bitcoin was trading within touching distance of $20,000 and the bulls were loving it. Fast-forward to December 2018 and bitcoin has fallen roughly 80%. So, as the market slowly turns away from 2018 and looks ahead to 2019, what is it that I’m most excited about the space for the New Year?

Blockchain Brings Transparency to Charity 

Throughout 2018, the use of the blockchain in the supply chain industry has demonstrated the potential the technology has in improving services.

Whether it’s within art, food, humanitarian, fashion or healthcare, knowing what is happening from start to finish can change how we view things, delivering a greater level of transparency, and with it trust.

For me, I’m particularly interested in seeing how the blockchain can change how we give money to charities. 

Blockchain in Supply Chains

Millions of people around the world donate to charity, but for many, the question of how the money is spent and who it’s helping often remains unanswered.

Trust and confidence in the charity sector remains low, according to a Trust in Charities 2018 report by Populus, a UK market research company, and the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

It notes that trust and confidence had dropped to 5.5 out of 10, declining from 5.7 when the report was last conducted in 2016. This drop in faith follows the scandal surrounding Oxfam earlier this year, in which Oxfam was banned from Haiti after its workers were accused of sexual misconduct.

Trust in charities
Trust in charities has declined precipitously over the last few years, according to Populus report.

Blockchain Startups Bring Transparency to Charity Donations

In a bid to improve how we view charity donations, there are already several platforms available, which are working at bringing about transparency to the donation process.

One of which is London-based Alice, a social funding and impact management platform built on the Ethereum blockchain.

Launched in 2017, the platform’s first pilot was in partnership with St. Mungo’s a UK-based homeless charity. The aim of which was to find homes for 15 homeless people on the streets of London.

Alice blockchain charity
Alice’s pilot project to help the homeless in London

Raising $103,000 in Bitcoin

Another platform that is delivering transparency to how we donate is Italian startup Helperbit, a natural disaster management platform whose goal is to bring transparency to the charity and insurance sectors, giving people back the power.

To date, Helperbit has received 354 donations, amounting to nearly $109,000 in bitcoin from 1,298 users, with 12 different projects currently ongoing. One project is raising money for toys that can be built or adapted for children with disabilities. Another project is raising money for a clean water project in Nigeria.

California-based BitGive Foundation is another platform that is making waves within the crypto and blockchain giving space.

Founded in 2013, the first Bitcoin non-profit organization has been working for the last five years at boosting transparency within the donation industry. Last October, BitGive went live with its beta version of GiveTrack, a blockchain-based donation platform that enables donors to transfer, track, and deliver a permanent record of transactions across the globe from start to finish.

BitGive projects
BitGive projects from 2013 – 2016

Earlier this month, the organization launched GiveTrack 1.0 which lets donors track how their funds are used in real time. BitGive also announced its support for four new non-profit organizations: Code to Inspire, Desafio Levantemos Chile, América Solidaria and Run for Water.

Donors Know Exactly Where Their Money Is Going

Through the GiveTrack platform, it’s aiming to give donors a higher level of confidence, knowing that the money they are donating is going to those who need it the most as well as how the funds are spent.

These are just a few of the charity platforms that are using blockchain to improve the donation supply chain. And as we move toward 2019, I’m excited to see what else these organizations have in store and how they can further improve the charity sector.

With confidence and trust at an all-time low for the charity sector, blockchain-based platforms, such as those mentioned, are paving the way to how more people around the world may donate in the future.

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Zilliqa, IOSToken, Filecoin mainnet launch

To round out the year, we asked our Block Explorer writers to tell us what they’re most excited about for blockchain and crypto in 2019. In this piece, Delton Rhodes explains the potentially ground-breaking mainnet launches of Zilliqa, IOSToken, and Filecoin.

For both the worst performing and best performing cryptocurrencies in 2018, the market has been bear and bleak. Despite these results, there has been a lot of technical progress from several of the top projects in this space throughout the past year. 

Several mainnet launches are planned for Q1 and Q2. Here are three notable mainnets that I’m looking forward to seeing launch in 2019, listed in order of anticipated/scheduled launch dates.

Zilliqa Mainnet, Scheduled for January 31, 2019

Zilliqa logo

Zilliqa’s mainnet is highly anticipated because it marks one of the first projects to put its attention towards sharding technology – an experimental method of increasing blockchain scalability.

For the most part, sharding was still in the research and development phase before Zilliqa began to push implementation forward. Sure, this technology still needs vast improvements. However, people also want to see what sharding is capable of achieving now.

Zilliqa had originally scheduled its mainnet for Q3 2018, but decided to push it back until the end of January 31, 2019. There are two sides on whether this was the correct move. For some, a delay should be avoided at all costs as “something is better than nothing”. For others, though, it’s better to have a high-quality release over one that is ridden with errors. 

However you view such a delay, it’s important to ask why it happened. According to a statement from co-founder Amrit Kumar via the project’s official Telegram group, the team still needed to conduct security audits, get ready for the token swap, integrate with wallets, develop toolchains, and add more dapps to the ecosystem. 

Ultimately, the main thing to examine is what the project accomplishes once the tech is live and ready for the public to use.

Zilliqa sharding
Zilliqa is one of the first to implement experimental sharding technology to achieve huge throughput

According to the project website, the Zilliqa blockchain is already able to handle 2,828 transactions per second (tps). This would be a significant improvement over Bitcoin (7 tps) and Ethereum 15-25 tps). If Zilliqa’s mainnet is successful, it could mean more dapps and technologies built on the Zilliqa blockchain vs. others. 

If it’s unsuccessful, though, this might impact how both this project and others in the industry try to implement sharding solutions.

IOStoken Mainnet Scheduled for February 25, 2019

iostoken-twitter

The ultimate goal of IOSToken is to create a blockchain platform with enough scalability to build a “decentralized economy.”

IOSToken aims to create a foundation for the future of the ‘internet of services’. This could include things like decentralized virtual goods and services markets, cloud computing, file storage, e-commerce, online gaming, gambling, prediction markets, virtual assistant service, online advertising and more.

On December 20, 2018, IOStoken launched its testnet called ‘Everest’. On February 25, 2019, the project plans to release the full mainnet. 

IOSToken roadmap
The IOSToken roadmap for 2019

What makes this project’s mainnet something to look forward to in 2019? First, like Zilliqa, IOStoken will be implementing a sharding solution. With the two mainnets launching so close together, it will be interesting to compare the results. One tweet from March 2018 stated that IOStoken’s consensus protocol had already achieved 8,000 tps in a test environment. 

The tweet also stated that the testnet would launch in Q2 2018, so there was a pretty significant delay (similar to Zilliqa). Have there been any significant updates in IOStoken scalability since then? What’s possible on the mainnet? These are just two of the main questions that need to be answered.

IOStoken also introduces a lot of new scalability solutions that modify existing theories and concepts, putting them all into a real-world blockchain. For example, TransEpoch serves as the node-to-shard transition assignment protocol. Proof-of-Believability is a consensus protocol that aims to improve upon Proof-of-Work by assigning nodes a believability score as well as grouping nodes into two categories: believable and normal. Micro State Blocks (MSBs) ensure the accuracy of validation without having to check the whole blockchain. 

Filecoin Mainnet, Anticipated Launch in Mid-2019

filecoin

Back in September 2017, fundraising for Filecoin broke the all-time record for blockchain projects. With $257 million raised, mostly within the span of one month, the project has big ambitions. Even some of the world’s largest investment groups backed Filecoin. The project collected $52 million in a presale that included Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, among others. 

The concept of a blockchain-based data storage and data processing network isn’t exclusive to Filecoin. Similar projects like Storj (STORJ) Siacoin (SC), iExec (RLC), Golem (GNT), and MaidSafe (MAID) are also competing in this space. 

Filecoin has made progress, as seen with three demo videos published in August 2018. The first shows the go-filecoin command-line tool and live filecoin nodes running on a testnet. The second displays a network visualization and block explorer tool. The final one is an overview of the storage market and provides info on the roles of miners and clients. As of the end of Q2 2018, the project had completed the majority of its private codebase goals and planned to launch a public codebase as well as community forums.

The Filecoin roadmap

It’s the end of 2018, and Filecoin hasn’t delivered too many technical breakthroughs that are accessible to the public. This, however, could change with the release of its mainnet scheduled tentatively for sometime in mid-2019. 

Also, this mainnet poses important questions both for Filecoin specifically as well as other projects with similar amounts of available capital. Should we expect more results in a shorter amount of time from a project that raised so much? If so, how should it compare to other projects with fewer funds and resources? 

This isn’t an exact science, especially due to the fact that a lot of infrastructure is just now being developed. In addition, like most other infrastructure projects, many theoretical concepts are finally being tested thoroughly and applied for the first time. Still, most people who follow blockchain are probably also pondering these questions.

Conclusion

This list certainly doesn’t serve as a be-all and end-all for mainnets launching in 2019. There are likely to be several other game-changing mainnet releases as well as significant updates from blockchain projects that already have mainnets. From a blockchain infrastructure perspective, though, the three projects mentioned above are definitely ones to watch out for throughout this coming year. 

Can they change the current hierarchy of blockchain and crypto? Will they bring innovative solutions that people will actually want to use? Although technical capabilities are an essential component to success of any project, it’ll also be interesting to keep up with if (and to what extent) user adoption follows.

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blockchain holiday reading

Happy holidays, folks. It’s been a long, tough year in the world of crypto, but if you’re reading this, I think you’ll be on the right side of history when the dust settles.

We’re riding out this crypto winter by putting together some of the best blockchain guides out there. The most important thing you can do right now is build knowledge, expand your understanding, and gain confidence in this new technology.

So, whether you’re bored over the holidays or hiding from the in-laws, let’s dive into some of our most popular guides so far. (If you like them, stick around because we’ll have plenty more in the new year).

1. What is Bitcoin? Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

This is our flagship beginner’s guide to bitcoin. It’s written in simple, easy-to-understand language, but you’ll feel like a pro by the end of it. We cover everything from bitcoin’s mysterious creator, the technology that powers it, and how to buy it.

Read it now.

2. What is Ethereum? Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

A beginner’s guide to the third-largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum. Like our bitcoin guide, it’s written in simple language designed to level up your knowledge as you read through it. Discover how Ethereum is different to bitcoin and how it could disrupt an entire generation of existing services.

Read it now.

3. The Silk Road: A History of Bitcoin, Drugs, and the Dark Web

Launched in February 2011, the infamous Silk Road marketplace became a hub for drug dealers using bitcoin and the dark web to sell their wares. Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht is currently serving a double life sentence, plus 40 years, without parole. But the story is not so simple. It’s a story of corrupt police detectives, aliases, and deep conspiracy.

Read it now.

4. Who is Satoshi Nakamoto (Bitcoin’s Mysterious Creator)?

We reveal 24 clues about the elusive creator of bitcoin. Known only as the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto,” Bitcoin’s founder has never been identified. He disappeared completely in 2011, but not without leaving a few possible hints at his identity.

Read it now.

5. 13 of the Best Blockchain Games (& How to Actually Play Them)

In late 2017, a blockchain game called Cryptokitties became so popular it congested the entire Ethereum network. But it gave us an insight into how big blockchain gaming could become. Although most blockchain games are still quite primitive, there’s huge potential out there. Here are 13 of the best so far.

Read it now.

6. The Most Important Women in Blockchain

As the New York Times reported earlier this year, the blockchain industry has been dominated by “blockchain bros,” with women accounting for just four-to-six percent of blockchain investors. We shine a light on ten groundbreaking women taking the industry forward.

Read it now.

7. A Complete History of Bitcoin

We track the cryptocurrency timeline back to the very earliest attempts at digital currency (ten years before bitcoin was created). Along the way, we point out the biggest moments in bitcoin history including the infamous Mt. Gox hack, the Silk Road dark-web marketplace, to the historic $20,000 price tag.

Read it now.

8. The 12 Best Bitcoin Wallets

Storing your bitcoin in a safe and secure wallet is the most important decision you’ll make in your crypto journey. But how do you find one you trust? We dive into the 12 best wallets in 2018 and beyond.

Read it now.

Happy holidays from all of us here at Block Explorer!