Last year around the same time I read many articles about what might happen with blockchain technology, tokens and cryptocurrencies in 2018.
Most of them were far too optimistic. Reality struck back. Yet, it is very interesting to see which of these predictions finally come true.
This year I dare to have my own look into the crypto crystal ball and state some hypotheses where these technologies and their adoption in the market might be heading.
In my opinion, it is the consumer space where we will see crypto win or fail in 2019.
While there are many interesting business-to-business (B2B) scenarios with high potential, crypto applications still need to solve many user experience (UX) problems to win a broader audience and acceptance.
It is usually the business-to-consumer (B2C) space where you can collect more feedback, iterate faster and gain mass momentum. We already have a lot of ingredients in place to take some important steps forward. 2019 will be the year to bring these foundational developments of 2018 to real-world usage.
I want to make my predictions somewhat measurable so that we can review them next year. I’ll close each section with a measurable target result, so you can nail me and my epic failure end of 2019. 😉
So, here we go:
1: Mobile crypto wallets
Mobile wallets may be the most important puzzle piece to bring crypto payments into mainstream. Certainly, you shouldn’t store the majority of your crypto assets in those wallets, but mobile crypto payments are the key to bring crypto into everyday usage and replace/enhance cash or small debit/credit card fiat payments. These mobile scenarios must become dead easy for casual users. Many crypto projects are very active to achieve this goal. We will see a lot of competition in 2019 to win the hearts of a big user base:
- Most of the big crypto exchanges are already well positioned: Take a look at Coinbase with its own mobile apps or at Binance who just bought Trust Wallet.
- But there are many other players out there trying to conquer the mobile market. If you want to get a first impression have a look at this list of mobile Bitcoin apps. If you want to dive deeper, I recommend taking a look into fast-paced projects like Balance, Nimiq, Request.Network or Electroneum. We will see enormous innovation in this space in 2019.
- But I’d bet we will also see many established financial players trying join this race — either by acquiring one of these start-ups or extending their existing mobile offerings with crypto use cases.
My prediction no 1:
End of 2019 we will see at least 3 mobile crypto wallets in the Top20 of the “Finance” section in the iOS app store.
[At the time of writing (December 2018) Bread is the highest rated finance app at rank 58 for Germany.]
2: Stable Coins
A user-friendly mobile wallet is only one part of the solution. We shouldn’t expect our parents or other newbies to “learn” the valuation and usage of a new currency. Crypto usage has to feel very similar to fiat usage. If you live in The Eurozone like myself and regularly travel through Europe, then you know about the comfort of paying with a well-known united currency like EUR. Paying with USD is also ok because we all roughly know the exchange rate.
But constantly recalculating a volatile crypto currency like Bitcoin is totally inacceptable for day-to-day usage.
That’s why I think that the rise of stable coins in 2018 is a tremendously important foundation for crypto mass adoption. Stable coins are pegged against well-known fiat currencies like USD or EUR. You just use them like fiat — but without the need of a bank account.
Stable coins come in different implementation flavors: Crypto-backed ones like MakerDOA’s DAI, fiat-backed ones like Circle’s USDC or Tether (USDT).
All of them had some hard days in 2018 during the downturn of the crypto markets. It will be interesting to see which one will be most successful in 2019. But it won’t matter too much which of them will win the race: To me it is absolutely crucial to have some of them succeed to lower the entrance barrier for new users.
End of 2019 most crypto-newbies won’t enter crypto by buying BTC or ETH, instead people will seamlessly exchange small amounts of USD to USDC and gain experience — if they recognize the difference at all. Maybe apps will abstract the little difference away. We might use crypto without even noticing.
My prediction no 2:
End of 2019 we will see at least 3 stable coins in the Top 10 at coinmarketcap.com regarding market capitalization.
[At the time of writing (December 2018) Tether (USDT) is ranked at number 7, USDC is at 25, TrueUSD at 27, my favorite DAI at number 58.]
3: Sending (crypto) money via your favorite messenger
Messengers like WhatsApp, WeChat and Telegram are some of the most used apps these days. While it is quite common in Asia to send money via WeChat, this is rather unusual in western countries. Crypto will change that. We’ll start sending small amounts of money via chat apps. Parachute’s ParJar project is one of the first to send crypto coins via Telegram Messenger. They currently support 18 crypto currencies — among them prominent ones like BTC, ETH, 0X, and BAT. It is easy, it is fun — it will gain traction.
My prediction no 3:
Facebook will follow suit and offer crypto payment features in WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger until end of 2019 — and many of us will use them.
[Maybe they’ll even launch their own FB Token to win back some love of their user base?]
4: Crypto-backed credit cards
The first crypto-backed credit cards had been launched two years ago with quite some buzz. But 2018 was a rough year for companies like TenX and Bitwala. Regulation kicked in. Most crypto-based credit card services had relied on the platform of WaveCrest, which had to shut down its services due to non-compliance issues with VISA. Many projects had to rethink and rebuild their solutions and enter new partnerships. Finally, this seems to work: TenX is back on track and currently issues first credit cards for Singapore, while Bitwala is offering a “blockchain based bank account” and a debit card.
My prediction no 4:
We will see more than 1 million crypto-enabled debit & credit cards issued in 2019.
[I guess most of them will be used in emerging countries in Asia, Africa and South America.]
5: NFTs & Crypto-Collectibles
Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) are for sure one of the most disruptive use cases of blockchain technology. You may have heard of Cryptokitties, one of the first impressive NFT use cases. Non-fungible tokens are unique and not interchangeable as we know that from common crypto currencies.
Platforms can use NFTs to link a certain token to a certain instance of a digital asset. If a user owns this token, he is the owner of the digital asset. This technology enables us to introduce scarcity for digital goods: A painter could decide to issue just 10 copies of his digital art work, each of them represented by one unique NFT. If someone buys copy number 1, this will be recorded on the blockchain. Copy number 1 will probably be more “valuable” to fans of this artist than copy number 8. The owner of copy 1 might decide later-on to resell his art to someone else. He sends his NFT to the buyer in exchange for some ETH or BTC — blockchain-based rights management and transparency included.
NFTs finally enable real-world product use cases for digital goods. Imagine: You bought a song on iTunes last year — and now you don’t like it anymore. You would like to resell it to a friend. Currently not possible, because you don’t own the digital asset. Instead you bought access rights to this song from Apple. Apple controls your access. My take: Music business might totally change with NFTs. You can publicly prove your ownership because you own the NFT and this is publicly available on the blockchain.
Many humans love collecting things. NFTs make that possible.
If you read about “crypto-collectibles”: they are powered by NFTs.
My prediction no 5:
At least one NFT-based art platform like Maecenas (pictures) or Ujo (music) will gain traction in 2019 and have more than a million users signed-up until end of 2019.
6: Token-based Games
Game platforms will follow suit and introduce their own in-game tokens and/or represent in-game items with NFTs.
Players can extract these assets from the game and resell them on external exchanges to other players or exchange them for assets in another game. If you want to dive deeper, have a look at examples like Game.com, RadMule or GamerToken.
My prediction no 6:
We will see at least 5 successful computer games (each >500.000 users) using crypto tokens as in-game currency or NFTs as in-game assets.
7: Loyalty Programs
We will see the rise of blockchain-based loyalty platforms on many levels and in different markets. Unlike current “point systems” a la Miles&More, they provide significantly more transparency through the use of Blockchain and tokens. They are designed with openness and allow users to transfer their “points” to other platforms. Established players will either move fast — or competition will hit them very hard. Projects like Simple Token are currently launching platforms to make that very simple. Have a look at what Carry Protocol wants to achieve in 2019 for small retail business.
My prediction no 7:
In 2019 we will see at least 3 significant token-based loyalty systems, each having more than 100.000 users.
So, that’s it for now — time is running out in 2018. I need to publish this thing as fast as possible. Hope you enjoy it!
Credits: Credits for this story go out to my colleague Daniel Mölle who always challenges my ideas and laughs out loud when I tell people about the bright future of Blockchain and tokens. 😉
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be an investment advice of any sort. Do your own research and search for professional support if you intend to invest in one of the projects mentioned in this article.
Further reading: If you liked this story, you might also want to check out my earlier work about “Democratizing the digital markets” or my “Blockchain vNext series”.
You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter or get in touch via LinkedIn (but please tell me that you found me via Medium).