It is going to be a very interesting year for blockchain. In the past year, the technology has been further developed and subjected to many experiments. This was done by the many startups working on groundbreaking blockchain products and solutions, as well as by organizations that implement the technology in different ways. Giant steps are currently being made in terms of scalability, privacy, efficiency, security and, of course, regulations.
 
 McKinsey claims that the technology is still in the pioneering phase of its industry life cycle. One of the people involved in founding the concept in 1988, Tim May, went further by saying that the founder of what we know today as Bitcoin and Blockchain (the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto), “would be ashamed to see the current status of technology”.
 
 Nevertheless, many organizations are investing heavily in blockchain. PWC calculated an average of US$ 500,000 per company and 11% of organizations invest as much as US$ 10 million. According to IBM, which employs 1,500 people on 500 blockchain projects, the main reason to invest is to save costs and to organize processes more efficiently. A study by Deloitte concluded that, in the end, 74% of executives believe that it ultimately will bring value to their organization. Gartner predicts that this will be worth a whopping US$ 3.1 trillion in 2030.
 
 A question that is often posed to me during presentations and by clients is: What can we expect from the technology in 2019? Here are the top 5 developments that I’m looking forward to.

The Quest For The Successful “Use And Business Case”

Where the media predominantly focuses on failed blockchain implementations, such as that of Tony Chocolony, or generally portraying the technology as ‘a solution for almost nothing’ and ‘a revolution that doesn’t change your life for a while’, fortunately, there are many positive messages coming out every day. Such as that of the firm Albert Heijn, which has already streamlined its logistical processes more efficiently, and various banks such as ING, which is making great strides in areas such as security. These desperately-needed “use and business cases” of the technology will play an important role in its success and further development in the coming year.

Obviously, organizations must be able to defend their investments. According to Deloitte organizations will, therefore, focus more on applications where blockchain can really make a difference. Too often it is believed that technology provides a solution to all global problems, leading organizations to consider how the technology should be implemented instead of whether it should be. Sometimes choosing other emerging technologies, such as robotics and artificial intelligence, prove to be the better choice.

Restore The Image

Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are often regarded as one concept. In fact, blockchain technology can easily exist without cryptos. Since the digital currency market lost 80% of its value in 2018 and still suffers from high volatility, as well as negative reports about criminal transactions and fraud, the blockchain technology also continues to suffer (in my eyes) from an incorrect image.
 Although many positive cryptocurrency developments are expected in 2019 (read here my 5 crypto predictions for 2019), blockchain itself will really have to work hard on restoring its image — especially as Forrester predicts that 90% of blockchain projects will never see the light, something that feeds the claims skeptics always has made.

Governments Are Surprisingly Ahead

Whereas at the start of the blockchain, many only observed the revolution in the financial system, currently many governments are at the forefront of experimenting with and successfully implementing the technology. In previous articles, I enthusiastically addressed the many blockchain projects the local governments in the Netherlands are currently setting up and implementing. According to blockchain legend Vinay Gupta, this has resulted in the Netherlands even overtaking countries like Dubai and Singapore.
 The high level of security and the scattered nature of the data in the blockchain has seen a large number of governments choosing the technology. Experiments are no longer small; countries such as Estonia, Switzerland, and Thailand have already placed entire elements of their services on the blockchain. IBM has just signed a $740 million deal with the Australian government to implement the technology, and France is considering making €500 million available for this.

Linking With IoT, ML, And AI

It is anticipated that in 2019 20% of IoT developments will be developed with blockchain. The many already-working applications are proof that the collaboration of both technologies can lead to many cool, new use cases. Like the collaboration with technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, each greatly reinforces the other and provides various new, pioneering solutions. Some experts even believe that blockchain will become the game changer for IoT.

DAPPS

The founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, predicted for 2019 that “the next wave is not based on hype but on working apps.” He wants Ethereum to cause a small revolution by means of so-called “smart contracts”. An important development in the blockchain technology on the Ethereum network is “dapps”, decentralized applications of which the software and data (as the name states) are stored separately. Because data is no longer stored centrally, organizations such as banks and Facebook will soon no longer be in control of their customers’ data. Ultimately, that will ensure that we ourselves regain control of our data. A good example is Brave, whereby the user decides which data they want to share with the advertiser, something that is rewarded in tokens. However, the real revolutionary applications still have to be introduced; “CryptoKitties” is still the best known and widely used application. It allows you to raise and collect digital cats. However, many experts predict many important app launches in 2019.
 
 Of course, there have been many other developments witnessed in the area of blockchain, such as the massive demand for blockchain experts, the sharply increasing investments of venture capitalists in technology, and many great collaborations within blockchain consortia such as R3 (financial institutions), B3i (insurers) and MOBI (car manufacturers). I, therefore, will follow the developments with great enthusiasm and interest in the coming year!

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.