George Kikvadze, vice chairman of major Bitcoin mining and Blockchain technology company Bitfury, laid out his expectations and predictions for 2017 regarding the development of the Bitcoin industry, the community and, most importantly, the Bitcoin network.

Highly anticipated events in Bitcoin industry

2017 is a highly anticipated year for the Bitcoin industry, with companies like Gemini and SolidX approaching the approval process of their exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The Bitcoin ETF of the Winklevoss Twins, called the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, is particularly close to its approval and deployment phase, primarily due to the partnership between the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust and State Street, a highly anticipated financial services company.

Various analysts and experts have emphasized in the past that the launch of a Bitcoin ETF like the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust could potentially double the price of Bitcoin, as it would allow high-profile and regulated firms, investors, traders and corporations to invest in Bitcoin without running into conflict with legal issues.

David Zeiler of the Money Morning publication stated:

“Most of the Bitcoin community has assumed the approval of the first Bitcoin ETF will be a positive for the price of Bitcoin. That’s because it will add to the legitimacy of the digital currency in addition to providing a new avenue for people to invest in Bitcoin.”    

More importantly, Bitcoin startups have also begun to attract high-profile investors within the tech industry, which correlates with the decline of Blockchain hype and Blockchain startups. For instance, innovative Bitcoin startup Coins, which provides robust, efficient and highly liquid Bitcoin infrastructures in remittance-heavy countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, secured a $5 mln investment in a Series A funding round led by Accion Frontier Inclusion.

“Coins is collaborating with key ecosystem players to architect a new financial and payment infrastructure in Southeast Asia,” Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund’s Ganesh Rengaswamy said in a statement.

Improvement in Bitcoin network & protocol

The emergence of on-chain scaling solutions as well as privacy-focused solutions like Segwit, Lightning and TumbleBit could potentially allow developers and Bitcoin startups to develop microtransaction-based systems, efficient wallet systems, robust hardware wallets and privacy-focused Bitcoin platforms without pursuing the path of a hard fork.

Bitcoin Core introduced Segwit in mid-2016, which according to a study conducted by Alex Petrov, could expand the Bitcoin network’s capacity by 1.1x. Such optimization of block size would enable users to process payments at much faster speeds without compromising security.

Also, as more banks and financial institutions begin to realize the inefficiency of private Blockchain networks or permissioned ledgers, the Bitcoin Blockchain will most likely be at the helm of a financial revolution. Recently, a former Barclays CEO joined the board of a popular wallet platform Blockchain, also known as

Former Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins stated:

"Blockchain technology has the potential to reinvent the way we use money and contribute to a finance system that’s high quality, low cost, secure, fair and transparent."