The best year ever and a catalyst for many more beautiful things to come next year. The Bitcoin price soared to an “all time high” and in its wake, the many “altcoins”, many big and established ones got in and several big projects, such as Ethereum, are about to launch big breakthroughs. Next year also promises to be a year like never before. In this blog the 5 most important developments that I am looking forward to.

Let’s look back first

Even though it is often said that a day in the crypto world is a year in a human life, the predictions I made in the past year have all come true. The halving, the halving of the pay of the miners of the Bitcoin blockchain network, would not itself lead to large price gains in May, but afterwards. We saw the Bitcoin price dip below $ 4,000 in March and as the year progressed, the price continued to rise, eventually surpassing the old record of nearly $ 20,000. The various crypto startups are also expected to have worked hard over the past year and come with big revelations every week. The use of cryptocurrencies has increased exponentially worldwide with more than 100 million users and at one point last year 25,000 Bitcoin wallets (digital wallets) were created in 1 hour. Even though there is no telling what the “mother of all coins” Bitcoin will do in terms of price; predictions range from $ 0 to $ 1 million, fueling the massive wall of money being created by governments worldwide to combat the corona crisis, the move of many investors to cryptocurrencies.

Whales are on their way

Where in the previous big “run” in 2017, mainly the smaller retail investors bought cryptocurrencies, in recent months it was the turn of the “big boys”. Microstrategy bought half a billion dollars worth of Bitcoin and their CEO privately for a quarter, payment company Square put in $ 50 million and Paypal bought 70% of all newly created (mined) Bitcoins in the last month. The head of investments of Blackrock, the largest investor in the world, indicated that he no longer sees Bitcoin disappear and even gold disappears over time. That it is not just words, but also actions is evident from figures from, for example, Coinbase, which offers, among other things, “crypto custody”; securely storing cryptocurrencies and saw their digital storage increase in value from 6 to 20 billion dollars in a few months.

The nice thing about blockchain, and especially the Bitcoin blockchain, is that the transactions are all public. You can do very cool data analyzes on it, for example of the large investors, called the “whales”. A nice graphical analysis shows that the large Bitcoin “wallets” with a size of more than 1000 Bitcoin (value of 20 million euros or more) have increased very quickly and that these owners also hold the Bitcoins and do not sell them.

The bull just started to run

After two years of the so-called “bear market” in cryptocurrencies, a long period of declining prices, the “bull market” has finally arrived. The overall size of the market has grown by $ 500 billion since March and it doesn’t seem to be going to end. While the recent price increase is mainly attributed to the larger investors, we are now again waiting for the smaller retail investors. Bitcoin is back on the front page of De Telegraaf and, the number of searches around “bitcoin price” has never been higher and it is becoming easier to buy cryptocurrency. Paypal announced that its 300 million users could now also buy, sell and store cryptocurrency, which has already been done by 20% of users in the United States. With the recent approval by the Dutch bank of a handful of major Dutch cryptocurrency exchanges such as Coinmerce, it will not be long before I will be back in line at Albert Heijn or at the hairdresser. Not only Bitcoin, but also other cryptocurrencies, the so-called “altcoins” have increased in value tremendously and the price of some has even doubled or tripled in a short time. A well-known pattern; in recent years Bitcoin has always been first, after which the altcoins followed exponentially. Promising projects such as Ethereum, Chainlink and Polkadot were especially popular in this.

Big updates from the big boys

The popularity of the various cryptocurrencies is partly due to the major developments that have taken place in recent times and will be launched in the near future. After years of preparation, Ethereum, which is the second cryptocurrency in terms of market value, has started to launch the extensive 2.0 version of its network. An insane leap forward, because of the new way of validating transactions, which makes the network insanely faster, more stable and cheaper in one fell swoop. Because the network is increasingly used to build and run so-called ‘smart contracts’, but also DeFi (decentralized financing, which I wrote about earlier) so-called ‘DApps’ (decentralized applications) and ‘DAOs’ (decentralized organizations), it is also called the ‘supercomputer of the world’ and is attracting attention to more and more investors.

Even though mysterious Bitcoin founder or founders Satoshi Nakamoto has never been heard from, thousands of enthusiasts are still developing the code for this groundbreaking cryptocurrency every day. Problems that Bitcoin has been struggling with for some time; scalability and privacy are being addressed in the short term with the major updates Taproot and Schnorr. Another ‘top 10 project’, Cardano, one of Ethereum’s biggest competitors, comes with the major ‘Govuen’ update, which focuses even more on decentralization and makes all kinds of functionalities available to companies, such as ‘smart contracts’ and ‘DApps’. . With its 3.0 update, NEO will realize its major ambitions to create such a scalable blockchain that the transaction speed is at the level of that of regular banks.

CryptoCrime is on the rise

A lot of money unfortunately also attracts the wrong people; criminals have now also found the virtual route well and billions of cryptocurrencies were stolen last year. Recently another $ 150 million at the major trading exchange KuCoin. According to the United Nations, these are not only self-employed crooks, but even the government of North Korea, who has now stolen an estimated $ 2 billion, mainly to help develop nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, cybersecurity expert Kasparsky also expects criminals to become more interested in cryptocurrencies in the coming year. Especially the newer “DeFi” projects, which often grow too fast to be able to continue to guarantee safety, fall victim to this, as happened recently with Balancer, Akropolis and Opyn.

That cryptocurrency is only for terrorists and criminals, was recently disproved by a board member of Chainalysis, the largest crypto-data analysis company in the world, at a blockchain event that I recently organized in Amsterdam. Although more and more ‘ransomware’ attacks are taking place for which cryptocurrencies are demanded by criminals, the number of criminal transactions has fallen far below 1% and investigative agencies such as the FBI and the Dutch Police even admit that cryptocurrencies enable them to collect criminal money. to follow.

It is up to the government

Even though the industry is becoming more and more mature, there are also many things that are absolutely unacceptable, such as artificially inflating prices. Due to the “pacing” problem, governments are always lagging behind in drafting and implementing laws and regulations, due to the rapid development of certain technologies.

The strict Dutch legislation has ensured that various Dutch cryptocurrency exchanges have now been registered with and are supervised by De Nederlandse Bank. But many of the largest stock exchanges worldwide, such as Binance and Bitmex, are avoiding this dance by establishing themselves in tax and regulatory havens like the Kaayman Islands and Sechelles.

The CEO of Paypal, Dan Schulman, who, as I wrote earlier in this blog, has made it possible for customers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency, has therefore called on the industry to proactively sit down at the table with the regulatory authorities, in order to prevent major obstacles from being thrown up in all kinds of ways by international bodies and national governments as a kind of ‘counter-reaction’. Right, now that mass adoption is starting to take such beautiful forms.

The European Union introduced the “MICA” in September; regulations surrounding the cryptocurrency market. Ambitious and mainly focused on stimulating responsible innovations. Once approved, it will apply to all 27 member states and will finally provide broader clarity about the rights and obligations surrounding cryptocurrencies for consumers and organizations. In my view it contributes to a maturing market and will, due to the certainty it will offer, also attract more and more consumers and companies, to both use it and invest in it, which ultimately benefits the entire market. come.

It will be a special year, with the launch of DIEM immediately in January, the renamed cryptocurrency project Libra, which Facebook has initiated, the launch of the Chinese DCEP (digital government currency) and much more. Last year was already one to write in the books in the field of cryptocurrency, 2021 could very well exceed that!

Jan Scheele is active in the web3 (blockchain, crypto, NFTs, DeFi) industry since 2013. Besides (former) CEO of a web3 scaleup and founder of an advisory boutique (working for governments, family offices and several multinationals), he is Digital Leader at the World Economic Forum and Board Member at the Blockchain Netherlands Foundation (BCNL). He is writing, consulting, speaking and training regularly about everything web3, all over the world. Furthermore, he is currently finalizing his book about the rise and global impact of blockchain technology.