Through the Blockchain Grapevine…

By Stewie Zhu, Founder and CEO of DCC

As a nod to the “cryptic” origins of its creator, blockchain had no choice but to grow into one of the most community-oriented space — from developers, traders, innovators and evangelists obsessed with incessantly sharing information, to the explosion of blockchain events and conferences all over the globe, the blockchain industry has become one of the most touted breakout industries we’ve seen since in the last decade.

After attending and participating in more blockchain events, conferences and meetings than I can count, I thought it would be interesting to provide a bit of a summary of what I’ve been hearing through the grapevine.

We are currently powering through some of the worst bear markets in crypto history, which makes it especially challenging for those projects looking for funding. While we are kicking off a new year — which in blockchain/crypto-speak feels like a lifetime, the industry hasn’t quite accumulated a long enough history to notice a real trend line for 2019.

We can make note of what the chatter and throw in some industry studies (for good measure), as of late and perhaps weave a story from there…

It was a short 10-years ago since Satoshi wrote his Bitcoin Whitepaper that birthed the blockchain industry and created it’s first ever use-case with the advent of Bitcoin, the premiere digital asset and most widely known cryptocurrency.

I’ve assessed the “rumor mill” of some of the well-know influencers in the space to see what’s on their minds as we head into the new year.

One general theme was around institutional involvement in the space.

In a Bloomberg segment from Henri Arslani, PWC China & Hong Kong Finech and Crypto Leader, there has been an entry of institutional players in 2018 in the crypto ecosystem and many more in 2019 — between investing in other crypto companies, partnering or setting up their own business lines.

Although Breaker reiterated that institutional players would play a bigger part in cryptocurrencies this year. But, Paul Vigna, Reporter at the Wall Street Journal, asserted that institutions will be quite cautious in their entry, indicating that they will be wary of the much smaller still risky [crypto] market.

What I also found interesting is the topic of low-income banking — while that isn’t a blockchain trend, these are important findings which can be impacted by blockchain.

Based on joint findings from Accenture and the World Bank, Alan McIntyre, Senior Managing Director of Global Banking at Accenture cited a $380B opportunity in low-income banking.

As far as micro and small business banking goes, below is a bit of breakdown:

- Asia-Pacific $95B

- Latin America & Caribbean $81B

- Africa and Middle East $57B

- Eastern Europe and Central Asia $34B

Check out this infographic for a closer look:

Arguably one of the most influential players in the space, Tim Draper, Founder of Draper Associates, declared earlier in the year that only cryptocurrencies will be used for payments in only five years.

Although the current year makes crypto and the prospect of blockchain technology’s future appear grim, blockchain is in fact poised to push out more traditional money transfer services such as Western Union, which is typically associated with exorbitant fees charged for transactions.

From the retail side we’re hearing mixed messages and the general public has been quite pessimistic with many a Facebook rant complaining about how they’ve got given up hope on the Bitcoin investment they made when they bought at its high.

One of the godfathers of crypto, Chris Burniske, Partner at Placeholder VC and Co-Author of Cryptoassets, has a pinned tweet stating that more people will own cryptoassets than stocks.

So, there you go folks — not all is what it seems.

The picture looks a bit brighter for the more savvy retail investors and those that have a deeper understanding of Bitcoin and blockchain technology. For example, last week, there was a really engaging and thought-provoking live taping of the podcast, Tales from the Crypt, where hosts Marty Bent and Matt Odell took a question from the audience on what will be the next hurdle for bitcoin.

The duo claimed a possible attack on the state (a 51% attack is a potential attack on the bitcoin network whereby an organization is somehow able to control the majority of the network mining power). While the pair may have solely been referring to an attack on Bitcoin (which many believe cannot happen), numerous articles have reported that Ethereum Classic (ETC) experienced a 51% attack, and promised to issue refunds.

We enter a murky crypto climate in 2019, to say the least… I suppose all we can do for now is just brace ourselves.