As we’re getting closer to the holiday season, naturally we tend to look back and reflect. With (almost) yet another year behind for the blockchain community, let’s take a good look at what we can remember 2019 for in terms of blockchain. And yes, I know a year in the Web3 community feels like 7, we all feel the same.
Note: despite a surge in Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs) and Security Token Offerings (STOs), I’m not really going to be talking about those. I think we figured out that we could do crowdfunding on a blockchain pretty well back in 2017.
So, in no particular order..
1. DeFi ?
A shocker, I know. DeFi or Decentralized Finance has been by far the biggest hype in blockchain over the course of 2019. The big question is Why? and the very short answer is ” because it actually provides real value “. That’s right, after years of experimentation we’re actually witnessing problem-solving actual value creation. Banks are unattractive (to say the least). they’re losing touch with us, the digital natives, and keeping money there quite easily results in a loss at the end of the year due to inflation. Hell, we’ve gotten to the point where banks are actually willing to pay you money to get a mortgage through negative interest rates.
Blockchain-powered decentralized finance, on the other hand, offers a great alternative in many different aspects such as stable currencies (DAI by MakerDAO), attractive lending/borrowing (Compound) and an ever-growing list of investment tools and exchanges. While the term Open Finance may be better fitting (albeit not as sexy), it’s clear that we’re seeing actual consumer problems being solved through blockchain. Hooray!
2. DAOs and DOs ?
Another shocker, I know. We’ve seen an absolute boom of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations over the last year (as well as not-so-autonomous, DOs). For more info on decentralized organizations, check DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) vs Continuous Organizations 101. We’ve seen DAOs being created for funding technological advancements (MolochDAO), as well as decentralized applications (shout out to the MetaCartel bunch) and events (Orochi DAO). What’s really great is that we’ve seen use cases beyond our utopian Web3 world. Mogul Productions are using a Decentralized Organization, powered by some pretty bad-ass bonding curve smart contracts, to democratize the movie industry! CuraDAO is pooling funds together to actually create a positive social impact on the Caribbean island of Curacao, by funding various non-profit initiatives like education for example.
Alright, onto less obvious trends. It’s been discussed over and over again that UX and usability have been one of the biggest challenges in the blockchain / Web3 world. We’ve seen the community taking that to heart in 2019 as we’ve seen a bunch of products out there with a better user experience. After all, all that friction of using wallet addresses, private keys and seed phrases were definitely not here to stay.
Mobile-first, smart-contract based wallets like Argent and Pillar have done a great job in building more user-friendly wallets. Alice is building a mobile, one-stop-shop for all our favorite dApps and Web3 thingies! Moving beyond the Web3 community once again, Celo is building a mobile-first cryptocurrency that is hoping to empower the unbanked in emerging markets where the national currencies are a hot mess. In an ever more mobile-dominant world, it’s quite pragmatical to focus on where the users actually spend the vast majority of their time.
4. Enterprise Innovation?
We’ve known for a while that the enterprise world is interested in applying blockchain technology. After all, who isn’t? Having in mind the technology’s potential to optimize business processes, create new business models and disrupt a bunch of industries, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen some pretty big names get involved. 2019 is actually the year we’ve seen a lot of the enterprises actually build stuff like Proof of Concepts and Pilots – a great low-cost, low-risk way to explore disruptive innovation. For some great examples of enterprise-grade use cases, check which are the real-life blockchain projects including some pretty cool stuff by Daimler, Walmart, etc.
5. Cross-border B2B payments?
Another strong blockchain use cases which is already here. In 2019, cross-border B2B payments reached $171 billion and currently expected to reach $4.4 trillion!!! by 2024. That’s a lot of value.
Why doing cross-border payments on a blockchain? Simple – lower costs, real-time settlement and higher transparency, all made possible by distributed ledger technologies and automated KYC checks. More of the same please!
While it’s safe to say that we have a long way to go to make blockchain technology more usable and more efficient, it’s safe to say that 2019 has been a great year for the community. We’ve seen a number of user-friendly, value-adding projects and use cases. At LimeChain, we’ve been extremely lucky to work with many of those projects as a blockchain development and consulting partner and hope to continue to push the boundaries of blockchain together, as a community. Expect those 5 trends to gain even more traction in 2020 while we continue to innovate and create new business models.