Cryptocurrencies had a rough ride in 2018, with most losing a large chunk of their value since the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, blockchain technologies continue to hold promise for many organisations, although most applications remain in the testing stage as 2018 draws to a close.
So what does 2019 hold for crypto? Experts’ predictions run the gamut from sceptical to enthusiastic.
Deloitte, for example, believes the growing need for data security and privacy protections will drive adoption of blockchain in the year ahead.
“As people and devices increasingly become connected, identity/privacy protection has become a prime concern,” Deloitte noted in its '2019 Technology Industry Outlook'. “Both blockchain and biometrics promise to provide a robust way to secure and manage user identities. Companies may even combine these technologies to make their offerings more secure.”
IDC included blockchain twice in its list of 10 'Worldwide Digital Transformation 2019 Predictions', forecasting the technology will see adoption by organisations looking to reduce waste and improve trust in supply chains.
“By 2021, prominent in-industry value chains, enabled by blockchains, will have extended their digital platforms to their entire omni-experience ecosystems, thus reducing transaction costs by 35 per cent,” IDC said. The analyst added: “By 2021, about 30 per cent of manufacturers and retailers globally will have built digital trust through blockchain services that enable collaborative supply chains and allow consumers to access product histories.”
The advertising industry in particular will see reason to embrace blockchain, according to Forrester, which said it expects more than half of the top 100 advertisers to adopt the technology by the end of next year.
“In 2019, blockchain — better described as distributed ledger technology — will chip away at digital advertising’s opacity problem. Large brands are in blockchain pilot programs now; by the end of 2019, they will have a better understanding of where waste and abuse lie and how their money is spent. To be clear, we won’t see impression-level reporting in 2019, which would help solve more of digital advertising’s ills, including viewability and bot fraud — but these efforts are a step in the right direction to expose the value delivered in the media-buying supply chain and, perhaps more importantly, participants that are not providing any value at all.”
Despite such encouraging outlooks, others see darker developments on the horizon for blockchain. Gartner, for instance, envisions a growing problem with what it calls “privacy poisoning” – “inserted personal data that renders the blockchain noncompliant with privacy laws”. The issue will likely affect 75 per cent of public blockchains by 2021, Gartner claimed.
Kaspersky Lab, meanwhile, is downright bearish on both blockchain and cryptocurrencies for the year ahead. It predicts that 2019 will be the year “people stop trying” to achieve many applications with the technology, while cryptocurrencies will diminish in both appeal and value.
“We believe there is a finite audience for whom cryptocurrencies are of interest, and once that limit is reached the price will not rise further,” it said.
A T Kearney, on the other hand, expects something of a resurgence for Bitcoin in the year ahead.
“By the end of 2019, Bitcoin will reclaim nearly two-thirds of the crypto market capitalisation as altcoins lose their lustre because of growing risk aversion among cryptocurrency investors,” A T Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council said in its year-ahead predictions. “More broadly, financial regulators will soften their stance toward the sector. The UK Parliament’s Treasury Committee, which wants to end the ‘wild west’ of crypto markets, will pursue regulations intended to stifle criminal activity and reduce price volatility as it tries to make the United Kingdom a hub for cryptocurrency markets. At the same time, the US Securities and Exchange Commission will warm to Bitcoin exchange-traded funds and, with the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission, will continue to work to improve market transparency.”
A number of other experts also see a brighter future for crypto in 2019.
“I also see that blockchain will take hold in enterprises and actually become a competitive weapon,” Kyle Asman, partner and co-founder at the business advisory BX3 Capital, told Forbes in late November. “Public blockchain projects will start to see big wins for the first time. I think Amazon will issue a cryptocurrency. And governments, including the US, will start national crypto projects, and the US military will adopt Monero.”