Experts Share: What Are the Biggest Crypto and Blockchain Topics to Follow in 2020
Paolo Ardoino, Chief technology officer of Bitfinex
I expect other exchanges to follow in our footsteps and begin to make available deposits and withdrawals of cryptocurrencies via the Lighting Network. Added to this, we’ll see Ethereum 2.0 advancements and a greater institutional investor presence in the space.
Adam Back, CEO of Blockstream
Schnorr and Taproot is a further step toward the new more efficient lightning eltoo protocol which also depends upon a further soft fork, “SIGHASH_NOINPUT.” Simplicity — a formal, security-focused, low-level language bringing extensibility to Bitcoin-related blockchains — was recently added to Elements. We expect further progress on Simplicity within Elements and then Liquid during 2020.
Marc P. Bernegger, Fintech investor at Crypto Finance
The Bitcoin halving will be very interesting to watch and in mid-May 2020 it will be a highlight of the year for every crypto enthusiast.
At the same time, improvements such as the Lightning Network, Schnoor or Erlay will massively expand the application possibilities of Bitcoin and soften the designation as a pure "store of value."
In the area of smart contract protocols and DeFi applications, I expect some relevant progress, but I assume that we will have to continue to wait for the long-awaited "killer use cases"...
The further developments at Telegram and the SEC should not be underestimated for the crypto market either and have a major impact on the perception of crypto assets by large investors.
Sebastian Borget, Co-founder and chief operations officer at The Sandbox
Blockchain gaming without any hesitation! I am very excited for what’s coming in 2020. We have been among the first in 2018 to foresee the potential of blockchain technology into gaming and decide to build a game that could leverage that potential in compelling way for the players. We spoke over the year of 2019 to more than 17 global events such as G-Star, GamesBeat, NFT.nyc, GDC, Game Connection or Korea Blockchain Week and contributed to raising awareness about the opportunity of digital ownership for gamers. Dean Takahshi at VentureBeat wrote an article on us on “Why the smart kids are moving into blockchain games.”
Over this past year, we have seen a growing understanding of why true digital ownership for virtual game assets and broader relaying of our message by the media and from players themselves. Industry experts and now even large companies such as Microsoft or AMD are recognizing the importance of NFTs and adopting them as well.
In the last months of 2019, we have seen a series of announcements in the space (OpenSea NFT Marketplace raised $2.1 million, NiftyGateway NFT payment solution was acquired by Gemini Exchange, Mythical Games raised $19 million for Blockchain Gaming, Immutable raises $15 million etc.) that are strong signals for what is coming in 2020.
Being part of the ecosystem with The Sandbox, and through our parent company Animoca Brands, gives us a strong competitive edge as we are both working to release products that enable more users to join the space, via user-generated content and also through sports brand licenses such as Formula 1, MotoGP, and football clubs. We have the opportunity to reach millions of players and create new business models where participants on our platform can benefit from full ownership of their assets, including staking their assets to receive interest.
Paul Brody, Blockchain lead at Ernst & Young
In 2019, we got to a high level of confidence that public blockchains are right for the enterprise and we demonstrated low-cost, highly scalable solutions for this — Nightfall, specifically. In 2020, our goal at EY is to start tying all the pieces together into end-to-end business process execution, with rigorous privacy, over the public mainnet. That’s nice by itself, but what has me really excited is that the business process execution should lead to tokenized financial services. Once companies and routinely running procurement on the blockchain, the outputs — product and service tokens — not to mention the invoices and receivables, can be tokenized, and from there we put the decentralized finance ecosystem to work. I believe this will transform how companies finance their own operations and it will be the big ecosystem-level payoff from the investments taking place now in privacy, digital contracts and tokenization.
Benedikt Bünz, Co-founder of Findora
I think usability and privacy! Cryptocurrencies need to be easier to use. Ideally you wouldn’t even really realize that you are using crypto it should be so seamless
Once more and more people use cryptocurrencies, we will realize how big of a problem the lack of privacy in currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum is. In these currencies, everyone can see who is paying who and how much. This is a problem for businesses and users alike. Luckily, there is a lot of work on zero-knowledge proofs and other technologies that overcome these hurdles!
David Chaum, Founder of Elixxir
As the internet has become increasingly pervasive, many aspects of our lives have been digitized and recorded as data by centralized entities. Economic incentives to exploit this data as well as an increase in massive data breaches have resulted in a huge uptick in privacy violations. To protect consumers, some platforms promise end-to-end encryption to limit access to message content. But this is not enough; greater protection is needed for each user’s metadata. Metadata consists of the who, what, when, where, and how details of any message or activity.
Virginia Cram-Martos, CEO of Triangularity
For me the biggest themes coming up in 2020 will be:
Central bank digital currencies and stablecoins (maybe Libra, maybe not)
Government blockchain-based applications and services (although, I expect this to really come to the forefront in the first half of 2021)
An increase in blockchain-based identity projects — with a very big need for international agreement and harmonization. There are many transactions that could, potentially, move “on-chain”: from purchasing a book to selling a car as well as the issuance of many government documents, ranging from your driver's license to the title for your house to your marriage license. But for this to happen, it is first necessary to have true and reliable identities for the parties involved. And, for privacy reasons, many of us may be looking to use self-sovereign identities for these purposes. This makes blockchain-based identities a “foundation” application which many other applications will need in order to be fully implemented.
The beginning of the “disappearance” of blockchain and DLT, as it becomes increasingly incorporated into applications where the user has no idea that blockchain is one of the supporting technologies.
Scalability as really big, global applications come online (or wish to do so).
Privacy, as combinations of AI, blockchain and image recognition technology come together in potentially “scary” combinations.
Further legal confusion as legislatures pass unneeded or constraining legislation without any coordination in an “electronic world” that is borderless but where national politics dictate the need to show that they are “crypto friendly” or “crypto tough” — often without really understanding the technology and the applicability (or not) of existing law.
A number of “key projects” leading the way for future developments will be built upon LAC-Chain and the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (with the most interesting implementations to come in the fourth quarter and early 2021).
I also have this down-in-the-gut feeling that we may be hearing about some serious scandals — Re: price manipulation in crypto markets.
Eric Crown, Wall Street trader
I'm sure everyone's going to think it's the halving and all that good stuff. And that obviously is a major driver for Bitcoin, of course. But I think an answer that perhaps some people are not considering right now is going to be, 1) the U.S. elections. I do think that actually does have some insight into Bitcoin because we've seen that the U.S. setting interest rates actually does have corollaries into driving Bitcoin price action. So, whoever gets elected on this next go round is essentially going to be able to work around with the Fed. Right now, we have a very interesting situation with Trump and the current head of the Fed — and you know how that whole thing goes. But I think that's one of the things that people are not really considering right now that's not an obvious one.
Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, Founder and CEO of Binance
I think we will definitely see more governments experimenting with regulations and tax policies around cryptocurrency. There will be more sandbox programs, as well as more clarity on regulations overall.
Alejandro De La Torre, Vice president at Poolin
Halving of course is a big topic that every miner has already or is planning to deal with accordingly. The new influx of mining rigs four times more powerful than the other generations rigs will also play an interesting development in 2020. Basically, older generations will become obsolete because of the increase of mining difficulty that the new miners will bring (as they have much more hashing power capability). We will see the formidable but old S9 and that generation of miners either switching off or moving to locations were the electricity is cheap but the security risk is high. 2020 will be one of the most interesting years for mining, keep an eye on it.
John deVadoss, Head of development at Neo
Trend-wise, I see three: AI and blockchain, blockchain in the enterprise, and cross-chain.
Privacy concerns and increasing understanding of the risks of relying on single-vendor implementations will drive the intersection of AI and blockchain. Real-world, industry-centric implementation will drive awareness and momentum for blockchain in the enterprise. Acknowledgement that multiple chains will need to coexist in both the consumer and the commercial sectors will drive cross-chain protocol innovation.
From a project perspective, there has been too much focus on core technical issues as with the horde of projects focused on scale (sharding is a prime example of this distraction).
I see a shift to real-world themes — for example, oracles (how to interact with real-world data), multi-party computation and homomorphic encryption (pragmatic application scenarios), and DAO patterns (how to move on from the ivory tower).
Last — but not the least — we need to prioritize adoption. In the last few years, we have built platforms that make the development and the distribution of applications easier; now, we need to prioritize users.
Daniel Diemers, Head of blockchain at PwC
I’m not much concerned about the halving, also I don’t think 2020 will be the year of mass adoption, where scalability will become our key worry. I truly believe our main problem right now is underdeveloped market infrastructure. Also, in the light of recent regulation, we need more liquidity in the system, namely via larger market-makers, and compliant trading venues, where also larger trades can be settled quickly, without distorting markets. We also need better and more reliable research and market data. I feel our current markets are still built on “hearsay,” where people listen in to a loud chatter of quotes and opinions and pick whatever comes first or, even worse, what they want to hear.
Not surprisingly incumbent non-crypto exchanges and investment banks are now growing increasingly interested in crypto markets, so I expect much more development in that arena, also in the light of security tokens and STOs. Alongside with that, data feed providers will buckle up, as will service firms that help with regulatory compliance and assurance.
Denelle Dixon, CEO of Stellar Development Foundation
There’ve been a lot of positive developments in the last year, and I’m excited to see the industry continue to mature in 2020.
I believe this next year is going to be a big year for us at SDF, because that maturity means moving blockchain applications beyond proof of concepts. We’ve got the technology right — decentralization of the network has happened and it works. So, next year, we will be releasing a product that utilize the strengths of the Stellar network. Right now, we’re working on a noncustodial wallet, and lining up Latin American anchors that will enable real people in the real world to hold currency and make payments using Stellar. There’s a need for a product like this, and it’s a use case Stellar was built to solve. By showing the world how it works, we hope to inspire others to build bigger and better and ultimately help us drive toward our goal of greater access to the global financial system.
We also anticipate that 2020 will bring an evolving regulatory landscape as new legislation regarding the use of cryptocurrency and blockchain is introduced over the next year. We look forward to being vocal and engaged on the attendant policy discussions and to providing educational opportunities for lawmakers and regulators to help them understand the implications of legislative proposals on the diverse technologies in this industry.
Creating stability within our ecosystem is crucial. Ultimately, policymakers and regulators are focused on protecting their constituents, and that’s a goal that we share. Our plan is to work with our ecosystem partners to understand the challenges they face, and with policymakers and regulators to help build a framework that provides necessary protections without stifling innovation and creativity.
Tim Draper, Venture capitalist
I think the crypto event of the year will probably be the halvening. I think that's going to be exciting. I think interesting things will happen there. But I think it's just a matter of getting the technology to where it's super easy to use and people start using it to shop with. And I think that's going to make a big difference.
Adam Ficsor, CEO of Wasabi Wallet
If the blockchain fees keep going up, then Lightning Network's rise will the the theme of 2020. If they will be low, then I cannot predict it.
Joshua Frank, CEO of The TIE
The halving is among the most important topics for Bitcoin in 2020. It is not clear to me that the halving is priced into BTC yet. It will be interesting to see how the next few months shake out.
Another important topic is consolidation. A significant number of firms within the digital asset space raised venture rounds in late 2017–early 2018 and are struggling financially. The venture market in crypto has quieted significantly, and it is not likely that these firms will raise second rounds. This opens the door for significant consolidation in the market. Binance has made a few acquisitions recently, but it will be fascinating to see who else doubles down on the market and swoops in to acquire smaller struggling startups that in many cases have built very interesting technology. Let the crypto M&A sweepstakes begin.
Ben Goertzel, Founder and CEO of SingularityNET
The biggest goal the blockchain community *should* have in 2020 is adoption of the technology for practical applications beyond speculative trading. With widespread adoption, blockchain will attract numerous additional human, financial and informational resources that will enable it to grow in a richer and more accelerated way. Without widespread adoption, there is significant risk that development will proceed in idiosyncratic directions that don't actually move rapidly toward systems meeting the world's needs.
Scalability, of course, will be very helpful for widespread adoption, but it's not sufficient and may not be necessary either, in the sense that one can create workable product architectures (like SingularityNET) that work around the scalability limitations of current blockchains, via judiciously minimizing the transactions that need to occur on-chain.
I also think in 2020 we're going to see the emergence of more creative new blockchain projects that violate some of the assumptions underlying the best-known blockchains of today. Kirik protocol eschews a single powerful smart contract language in favor of an assemblage of domain-specific sublanguages that do only what's really needed in a given application area, and are easily formally verifiable. TODA protocol eschews use of replicated or distributed ledgers, instead placing focus on the encrypted digital object being sent around, and the security and decentralized provability of the messaging protocol. Ideas like these and even more radical ones are what the blockchain community needs, and I'm expecting to see a bunch of them emerging from various places before 2020 is done.
Mati Greenspan, Founder of Quantum Economics
We continue to monitor the world's central banks as they engage in overindulgent and excessive monetary stimulus. Particularly in Japan, where quantitative easing has been most aggressive. The Bitcoin halving event just ahead of the Tokyo Olympics will serve as a prominent beacon for the entire world that there is a viable alternative to central bank money.
Arthur Hayes, CEO of BitMEX
2008—2019 was the age of the omnipotent central banker. They dusted off their printing presses determined to never again allow a financial institution to fail. That meant stoking financial asset inflation via quantitative easing.
During this period, holders of financial assets prospered. VC’s poured gasoline manifested as capital into negative gross margin businesses in pursuit of “growth.” Inequality surged, and starting in 2016, the “deplorables” began to affect a political sea change.
2020 and beyond will be the age of fiscal policy. Leaders will build stuff and employ humans. Building infrastructure requires raw materials. The 2008–2019 financialization of all business resulted in firms choosing dividends and stock buybacks over CAPEX. Therefore, as demand rises for real things, the supply of those real things will not be able to keep pace. Say hello to the mythical inflation.
Bitcoin benefits from financial as well as resource inflation. Rich people buy risky financial assets to supplement for a dearth of fixed income yield during a period of monetary policy profligacy. Rich people buy gold and other hard monetary assets when stuff in the ground shoots up in price. Bitcoin is both a financial risk-on asset, and a scarce commodity. Therefore, in either a gargantuan fiscal or monetary expansion, Bitcoin will perform well.
The “store of value” story for Bitcoin will reemerge in 2020.
Ivan on Tech, YouTube influencer
2020 will be an exciting year, a lot of the Bitcoin price narrative is built around the halving event, and many people expect the price to pump soon after the halving. While I believe that halving will have a positive effect on the price long term (going into 2021), I’m worried that people will not be patient enough and we might see some panic if the price doesn’t move soon after the halving.
I hope that Ethereum developers won’t delay Ethereum 2.0 further and we might see the first versions already next year — it’s a big milestone to look forward toward, this anticipated change will bring more scalability.
Sasha Ivanov, Founder and CEO of Waves
We will see further developments in enterprise blockchain space, including new production systems in logistics, finance and other areas. In open blockchain DeFi will remain the most important driver, and we will see its first forays toward mass adoption.
Christoph Iwaniez, Chief financial officer of Bitwala
To answer it with a hashtag: #Defi, short for decentralized finance. The topic will see growing traction in 2020. The question is always how decentralized solutions in the area of loans, investment and payment transactions can be reconciled with current regulations. But we are optimistic: As we have already seen in 2019, regulation can move gratifyingly fast and remove many of the remaining uncertainties, perhaps even as early as 2020.
John Jefferies, CFA at CipherTrace
In 2020, banks will grapple with the risks of the intersection of payment processing and cryptocurrencies that pervade payments and piggyback networks. Global anti-money [laundering] legislation will force compliance and force increased regulatory arbitrage because illicit crypto funds will have fewer choices of jurisdictions to convert to fiat currency. User privacy will be an issue as the Travel Rule requires transmission of PII [personally identifiable information] to exchange around the world with unknown security controls. Privacy coins will have increased scrutiny under the new FinCEN guidance and FATF guidelines that require addressing anonymity, enhancing tokens and anonymizing services. Privacy coin features will be added to many major cryptocurrencies.
Tal Kol, Co-founder of Orbs
Definitely usability. Scalability has already been solved — the technology is here. The biggest issues that will come with actual usage will be usability — specifically, the aspects most layer one’s neglected in the original protocol designs. The best example is fees. Most infrastructure projects are an inherently shared environment, creating limited resources. When usage comes we will see the problem of the diseconomy of scale play out (the more you and others use it, the more expensive it gets). On top of this, there is the problem with the business model of per transaction fee instead of the standard monthly subscription model with guaranteed SLA [service-level agreement] and fees paid by end users. Once real usage begins, there will be a December 2017 CryptoKitties fiasco redo, only now the platforms won't be strained for scale but for sane costs.
Sanja Kon, Vice president of global partnerships at Utrust
The launch of Facebook’s Libra project and its Calibra wallet will be a bellwether to the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies in 2020.
This, coupled with the possible approval by the European Central Bank’s on a “digital euro” could alter the discourse around cryptocurrencies and massively advance cryptocurrency payments in everyday use.
Jonathan Levin, Co-founder and chief security officer of Chainalysis
I think the #1 theme of 2020 will be financial institutions entering the cryptocurrency space, driven by client demand. As cryptocurrency gains mainstream acceptance among consumers — millennials in particular — they are going to demand a more frictionless experience, and the banks that don’t offer it will risk being left behind. Financial institutions will also be attracted to cryptocurrency in light of negative interest rates and as a macroeconomic hedge.
My second prediction is 2020 will be the year of institutional deployment of custody solutions. In 2018, people were talking about custody. In 2019, people invested in it. Now, it will be rolled out and serve as the foundation of a more mature asset class. This will also lead to a new market of businesses selling data about cryptocurrency fundamentals.
Finally, I think 2020 will be the year we see a central bank proof of concept.
Evan Luthra, Serial tech entrepreneur, founder of StartupStudio.online and iyoko.io
The major event under discussion is the Bitcoin halving, which will occur in May 2020. Most evaluate it as a factor in price growth. However, similar sentiments were relative to Litecoin halving, but everything turned out exactly the opposite — and as a result, led to a protracted drop in Litecoin price. We will definitely see a lot of progress in various blockchains in solving various issues such as scalability and more with the newer generation blockchains such as Relictum.pro.
Alex Mashinsky, CEO of Celsius
In 2020, I think we will stop fighting over what's centralized vs. what’s not, and have real conversations around what it means to create a new type of financial program, one that helps people and brings more people into the fold of cryptocurrencies. I think we saw a lot of bad projects die in 2019 and I think we will see more of that in 2020.
John McAfee, Cryptocurrency entrepreneur
What's significant today is that privacy coins in 2020 will be outlawed in at least one significant country. Guaranteed. And Monero will be the coin first banned.
Nicholas Merten, Founder of YouTube channel DataDash
Smart wallets and DeFi are going to 5x real-world daily users of cryptocurrencies in 2020. Not only is the user experience improving on a variety of mobile cryptocurrency wallets, but the functionality is mind-boggling. High interest rate lending opportunities for stable coins, decentralized exchanges and more are becoming the standard for crypto wallets.
Diogo Monica, Co-founder and president of Anchorage
2020 will bring the continued expansion and adoption of digital assets that reward online participation, such as staking, governance and participatory airdrops. Projects want to incentivize active use of their networks and tokens, and institutional investors want to take an active role in the health and success of the assets they hold.
Niklas Nikolajsen, Chairman and founder at Bitcoin Suisse AG
The upcoming Bitcoin halving is of course a topic to watch out for, as previous halvings sparked a continuous and sustained positive trend in the Bitcoin price. It will be interesting to see if the market has already priced in the halving, or if previous cycles will repeat themselves.
In terms of scalability, 2020 will likely be the year where we see secondary layer solutions mature and become widely adapted. It is also likely that we will see base-layer initiatives to address both scalability and privacy, perhaps already at the end-of-year or in 2021.
Another big thing to watch out for is Ethereum 2.0. Ethereum is today the base layer of by far most of the smart contract developments, use cases and businesses. How the transition to Ethereum 2.0 will play out will be crucial for the crypto asset space.
Kim Nilsson, Blockchain researcher at WizSec
With more serious attention comes more serious attempts to rein cryptocurrency in with more rules and regulations, so I suspect that the coming actions and strategies of various nations will become important in 2020 and onward. Which countries will adopt friendly or hostile approaches to cryptocurrencies? Has cryptocurrency already reached critical mass so that it's too late to outright ban it? We will probably see this decided in the near future.
There will always be laws and regulations, but there is an opportunity to help guide them by informing politicians and the public. Indeed, early regulations so far tend to try to strike a balance rather than try to shut things down, which is an indicator that people are recognizing the potential and benefits of this new technology.
Privacy technology is still young, and don't think for a second that current privacy flaws aren't being exploited by actors of the surveillance industry. Cypherpunks will push back with improved technology on this front, and while it will take time to do it right, I suspect we'll start seeing more attention on this topic next year.
Zac Prince, CEO of BlockFi
Stablecoins and new hooks for adoption. 2020 will be a year of continued growth in accessibility on traditional platforms and also products that enable users to interact with Bitcoin in the same way they are used to interacting with other assets — earning interest and substituting Bitcoin for traditional rewards points will be big drivers of adoption. We will likely see a global event or two that drive adoption in specific regions as well.
Alessio Rastani, Trader
I think a major event for 2020 is going to be: Is the next rally phase — the next bullish cycle phase — going to happen? Which I do expect is going to. And what I'm really expecting is when the majority of folks, the majority of people are going to become extremely bearish. That's the one thing I’m going to wait for. I'm waiting for the public sentiment, the public opinion sentiment, to become extremely negative and bearish on Bitcoin. And that potentially is the next major turning point for Bitcoin. I think that could happen in the first half of 2020. So, that's the major thing. And then I'm expecting the next bullish phase to occur sometime in the first half of 2020.
Phillip Sandner, Head of Frankfurt School Blockchain Center
Especially adoption, knowledge-building and scaling. There is still a lot of ignorance and a lot of false knowledge. We know that the success of blockchain, crypto and DLT has an essential requirement: education and knowledge. This not only concerns education at universities, but also the correct passing on of information through the media. If the standard question for any blockchain lecture is still the question of "power consumption of the blockchain,” we notice that there is a lack of education and knowledge — e.g., also among decision-makers. When the knowledge of the blockchain technology has spread, adoption follows automatically. Of course, there are also technical focuses, especially on the topic of scaling and transaction throughput. Especially with the world's largest ecosystem, "Ethereum," this will become a problem from 2020 on, but work is already underway.
Robert Schwertner, Influencer
I see exciting developments in applications in the fields of mobility, energy and real estate: The Austrian blockchain specialist Riddle&Code developed a "Car Wallet" for Mercedes Benz. It is planned that the Car Wallet will be installed in new models in 2020. This means that in the future, cars will be able to pay for their services themselves, such as parking fees, tolls, refueling/loading, insurance, etc. A revolution and an important milestone for autonomous driving. And cars built in 2020 will be on the road for the next 30 years, so it is obvious to build a car wallet already, who knows what the world will look like in 2050. So, it's better to be prepared in time. Bravo Mercedes!
Rumors persist that Korea's largest car manufacturer Hyundai will start its own blockchain in the first quarter of 2020. A courageous step! In Korea, the over-competitor Tada-Drive will also record more than 1 million trips in 2020. This will be the first time that a blockchain startup will put an internet giant Uber in trouble. Because why should we deliver 15% of the driving fee to an internet company when we can book directly with the driver. Makes the trip cheaper and the driver earns more. And it shows that blockchain is restoring social contacts as they belong. We don't give our money to the company, but directly to the driver of a taxi. I think this is a very nice development, it pushes back the supremacy of the all-dominant internet companies. We can expect more attacks from blockchain ventures. What I think is missing in the mobility industry: a uniform blockchain standard. And that will still not come in 2020.
The Energy Web Foundation has developed a special energy blockchain, and Siemens is on board. British Petrol is testing this blockchain. And in Slovenia, they are already trading on blockchain energy, the project is called “suncontract.org” and has over 10,000 active users. Especially in the energy sector, we will see further major developments in 2020.
In the real estate sector, which is already known as in-mobile — i.e., less mobile — cryptocurrency can provide improved access. In 2020, I expect numerous new projects that offer smart hybrid solutions for buildings — e.g., new rent/ownership models, "apartment wallets” and simplified operating cost accounting. The potential for innovative solutions with blockchain is enormous. Blockchain solves a basic problem: the transfer of values via the internet. Real estate is particularly suitable here because complicated and expensive trustee payments make life difficult for users. Here, I have also supported projects with my consulting company CryptoRobby.
Danny Scott, CEO of CoinCorner
Looking into 2020, I believe we'll start to see Bitcoin entering the "Plateau of Productivity" stage of the hype cycle, with companies and individuals continuing to build on and improve the current protocol. Hopefully, we'll see some of the BIPs come to fruition — which, as usual, are scaling, privacy and efficiency focused, such as Schnorr Signatures and Dandelion.
Staying on the tech side of what 2020 potentially has to come, I believe one conversation that will become a controversial topic will be "Confidential Transactions.” I've been paying close attention to this topic recently, which has shown quite the split in the community, with one side wanting more privacy and the other side not wanting to cause potential harm to Bitcoin's base layer, showing preference to introduce privacy on Layer 2.
An obvious focus for 2020 will be the halving — which, if we take history as our benchmark, we can expect to see the price rise back toward all time highs toward the end of 2020.
Lex Sokolin, Co-head of global fintech at ConsenSys
The most important issue for 2020 is the whether tokenized assets will find a way to leverage the same standards and infrastructure, or whether they will split into a million disconnected protocols and assets. It is impossible to build a network without connecting nodes, and therefore we must work toward integrating and scaling the blockchains on which real economic activity is occurring. As central banks consider and launch central bank digital currencies, and tech firms go back to issuing tokens and stablecoins, a key challenge for firms will be to connect their digital assets to services that exist in the crypto economy.
For example, how does Bitcoin interact with a tokenized financial instrument on an institutional Ethereum chain in Europe? Or, how does Hyperledger Fabric bridge its supply chain solution to the emerging stablecoins across different jurisdictions? If these assets all run on different programming, then there is little benefit from digitization. Everything will need to be reintegrated in the future. On the other hand, if large markets and standards emerged that leverage best in class products from the decentralized world, marrying those products to institutional use cases is a business and regulation question, not a technology question.
Similarly, tracking what large fintech companies are doing in regard to crypto assets is important. Will Facebook, Ant Financial, SoFi, N26, Robinhood, Revolut and other global neo-banks and robo-advisors each have proprietary approaches to blockchain-based economies? We hope not. Instead, these companies should rely on open-source, programmable blockchains, and build a communal Web 3.0 that creates that trust foundation for the world.
Alex Tapscott, Co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute
I would say Ethereum, Cosmos, Polkadot and other similar projects can achieve a scale which makes them useful for widespread, widely used applications. And that can apply for individual consumers or for enterprises as well. So, the layer two upgrade for Ethereum to proof-of-stake is obviously extremely important. Cosmos's IBC is launching in Q1 of next year . And then Polkadot, which is a very hyped project that's been mostly VC-funded has yet to launch and is launching as well. So, these are important milestones because ultimately — unless you think that this technology is only useful as a form of digital gold, as a store of value, like Bitcoin — if you think it has use and utility beyond that, then you need platforms that can support those applications. So, those are the three things I'll be looking at, mostly.
Alexandra Tinsman, President of the NEM Foundation
Unfortunately, we’re still talking about the biggest unsolved problem: governance. How should a decentralized project transparently protect the interests of stakeholders, partners and ensure a well-functioning development/product team? There’s been a lot of work in this area but there’s still no project you can point to and say, “They nailed it.” NEM is making inroads on balancing on-chain voting with trusted leadership, but it’s a topic that needs more attention and can potentially open the way for more adoption. Crypto has rebellious roots — with ideals of transcending nations and corporations. Yet, to elevate above, successful projects still have to interface with those institutions. So, I’m interested in the effects of different regional approaches to regulation. The environments in Japan and Switzerland have led to a lot of exciting projects, and I hope they continue to thrive. In the U.S., Wyoming is addressing legal issues around tokens in the U.S., and they might inspire further legal clarification across the nation.
John Todaro, Director of TradeBlock
The halving will be the main story of 2020 and it still stands to have one of the larger price impacts on the space among the various themes we are expected to see in the year. Other areas I would expect will gain traction in 2020 is staking, and we still have not seen the end of stablecoins, as Libra still may be launched in 2020. We will also likely see a rise in the number of exchanges offering staking services on various assets. No longer will exchanges just be for buying/selling, but also lending, staking, custody and other areas. Additionally, I would expect to see more crypto-oriented companies go public in 2020 and also increased M&A activity in the space. Lastly, scaling will be a focal point in 2020, as Ethereum has several high-profile milestones it will need to achieve in 2020 to stick to its roadmap.
Vladimir Tomko, Co-founder, CEO and game producer at Blockchain Cuties Universe
For the majority of market participants, the biggest things for crypto in 2020 are no doubt the Bitcoin halving and the full-fledged Ethereum 2.0 launch. Those things are highly anticipated and believed to bring the next big bull run. The launch of Libra’s DApp platform and the TON network are much anticipated as well. Some professionals, including myself, believe that 2020 will also be the year of institutional organizations entering the crypto space big time, which will bring additional regulations and more capital. Personally, for me, all events and launches that bring more users to the cryptocurrency world are very important and highly anticipated.
Erik Voorhees, CEO of Shapeshift
Whether Ethereum successfully moves to its “2.0” version is the biggest foreseeable theme. Surely, unforseen themes will emerge throughout the year. I also think it will be a year when people finally start decoupling the worthwhile projects from the garbage. Alts have traded bearishly altogether since the bubble popped — and at some point, people will realize that some of them are profoundly valuable, and the market will shake out the good projects from the bad.
We are still in the early adoption phase of crypto. When talking about cryptocurrency, it is hard to pinpoint a single topic that will be the most important with regard to its development. The important news to look for in 2020 will probably not be the big headlines, but will be the relatively small incremental changes, both technological and social in nature, that will increase trust, security and transparency but also bring an increased usability. On the technical side, some key factors could be reduced transaction times or higher limits on the number of transactions per second. On the social side, we might see a broader adoption by more retailers or an improvement of the image of crypto by being associated with legitimate uses instead of criminal usage like dark web payments or scams.
Alexander Zaidelson, CEO of Beam
The biggest themes for 2020 will be privacy, the rise of confidential stablecoins — especially algorithmic ones — DeFi and wider adoption.