Unless you’re Spencer Bogart, most people would agree that 2018 has been a dismal year for crypto–even if they don’t say it on their Twitter feeds. If you want to sum up the year in four words, you could try using these: ICOs and Ethereum are dead.
Forums, Telegram groups, Slack chats, there’s no shortage of predictions for Ethereum’s collapse, ICOs futures, FUD, and personal nagging fears about ending up in a dumpster. But, beyond the gossip and speculation, what do the industry insiders have to say?
Bitcoin Price Has Been Manipulated
OKEx Head of Operations Andy Cheung believes that institutions have been controlling the market and that once the price hovers around the $3,000 mark, that’s when it will rebound as the big gun investors get on board. He says:
I personally believe people are pushing it down because we want more traditional and institutional people to enter the market. It was too high, people were like “what the hell?” Right now it’s a very good price, so traditional people can actually come into the crypto space and then we’ll slowly go up. $3,000 is really cheap to buy right now and then I believe it will go up.
ICOs and Ethereum Are Dead
Co-founder of Decred Jake Yocom-Piatt doesn’t mince his words and he had a few more things to say about 2018 than the price of bitcoin.
As an autonomous digital currency focused on community input and sustainable funding for development, perhaps he’s a little biased. Not only did 2018 kill off ICOs but he sustains that Ethereum is gasping for its last breaths of air as well.
In 2018, we saw the ICO model die, Ethereum flame out, dApps and tokens go to zero, and ERC-20 projects generate insanely creative business models just to avoid regulation in a brazen grab for cash. Observing these failures reinforced our belief that the blockchain-driven future isn’t a quick fix. It will take decades, patience, and longevity to build and gain mass adoption.
Institutional Investment and Stablecoins in 2019
You may be bored of hearing about institutional investment. But while CME and CBOE didn’t bring the expected wads of cash from Wall Street that was initially expected, projects like Bakkt and Fidelity look to be offering something different.
Physically settled futures contracts will at least mean that speculative traders have to buy bitcoin to bet on its price. And with companies like Microsoft and Starbucks supposedly on board, maybe it will change the game.
Akbar Thobhani, as CEO of SFOX, a crypto prime dealer that’s building an institutional crypto asset management platform, clearly, getting the big players on board is in his interests. He says:
2018 was marked by significant infrastructure developments and institutional buy-in. Despite the recent bear market conditions, this trend will continue next year. I believe that as prices recover, we’ll see at least one $50 million or over ICO that is registered with the SEC or otherwise operates with their blessing.
We may even see a player like Fidelity including cryptocurrencies as a 401(k) investment offering. Additionally, whereas most stablecoin efforts were concentrated in the U.S. in 2018, in 2019 more and more countries will adopt their own stablecoins — and accordingly, stablecoin volume will become collectively greater than the trading volume of a top five crypto.
The Bursting Bubble Was a Blessing in Disguise
Cameron Chell, Chairman of ICOx Innovations that creates crypto products for established companies to grow their business through blockchain believes the bear market of 2018 was actually a good thing. Despite the falling prices, plenty of household names started getting interested in blockchain tech and will continue to do so.
Respected brands like IBM, Walmart, and Kodak partnered with some of the best minds in blockchain to bring transparency to supply chain and intellectual property protection, to name a few industries. Meanwhile, institutional heavyweights like Goldman Sachs and Fidelity opened dedicated crypto desks — signaling that, speculation aside, crypto and blockchain are a long-term play, and everyone is paying attention. The crypto speculation bubble that popped in 2018 was a blessing in disguise. It caused the craze to fade into the background, which will pave the way for real-world blockchain applications to come to the fore in 2019.
The Year of Reverse ICOs
Tamir Koch, President of eMusic, the first major music platform to fully embrace blockchain through the eMusic Blockchain Project for music distribution and payments says that reverse ICOs will dominate the landscape for the year ahead. Raising bucketloads of startup cash will no longer be as easy as presenting a white paper and an idea.
Despite the market downturn, 2018 was the year where mainstream adoption of crypto began to gain steam. I believe 2019 will be a major step forward, with a huge player coming out and embracing crypto, such as a payment company accepting crypto, pushing adoption by the public into the mainstream. 2019 will also be the year of the reverse ICO. Gone are the days of companies with just a white paper and a dream.
Bitcoin Will Never Die
Finally, ShapeShift Co-Founder and COO Jon silences the critics and all the naysayers ringing the death knell for bitcoin. Rather than selling hopium to the masses, he recognizes that the past year hasn’t been a good one, but that there’s plenty of fight left in Bitcoin yet.
I won’t sugarcoat the current crypto market slump. We’ve seen investors become more reserved, and currencies, although no longer in free fall, struggling to regain relative value. However, the claim that Bitcoin is dead is a laughable one. We’ve heard this proclaimed in the past, and undoubtedly we’ll hear it again and again in the future. We know that that isn’t true, and 2018 has been a year of growth and fast-paced technological innovation for companies across the industry. Yes, the bear market matters, but it’s a period of time with a beginning and an end, part of a cycle that repeats itself over the years.
At ShapeShift, we’re focusing on what comes next. For 2019, I’m particularly excited to see the Lightning Network, Ethereum, and other protocols continue to work on scaling. These are exciting to watch and have been making significant developments.
So there you have it. Unlike last year when analysts were battling it out to make bold predictions about when crypto was going to the moon, some experts are saying that ICOs and Ethereum are dead. There’s also a lot more focus on protocol than price.
Yet all opinions seem to lead to pretty much the same road: the blockchain revolution will take little longer than we thought but we’re still moving in the right direction (unless you’re HODLing Ethereum).
To use the closing words of Yocom-Piatt:
Just like during the dot-com bubble, endurance matters. Those that survived the dot-com crash stood tall over those who ran out of gas. It was those projects that came to dominate the space.
Featured image from Shutterstock. Portraits from LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.