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.
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).
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.
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.