2019 has been a strong year for cryptocurrency and blockchain, with growing interest from mainstream companies, major product announcements and increased regulations. But what predictions do experts have for blockchain and cryptocurrency in 2020?
We heard from experts across the blockchain and cryptocurrency space about their predictions for 2020, from cybersecurity concerns to greater mainstream adoption.
2020 blockchain and cryptocurrency predictions
Further Bitcoin price rises
While 2019 was a transformative year for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, I believe 2020 could be even more monumental. Bitcoin was the best performing asset class by a wide margin, and this itself draws the interest of investors. It continues to unlock a global, open market for financial services during a period when many nations are closing their borders. Because of this, we would not be surprised to see the price of Bitcoin rise again.
Next year, we expect to see further expansion of global payments that do not come from legacy banking institutions. Bitcoin and other digital currencies have changed the financial landscape and shifted the way we look at all assets. The open-source ethos of cryptocurrency has put institutions on notice, and we expect all financial services to be disrupted forever.
We expect more banks to adopt the “If you can’t beat them, join them” policy in 2020. In this regard, we will also see more big names in the tech industry like Amazon coming into the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector. Every institution from Berkshire Hathaway to Barclays will be impacted by the evolution happening in these markets, and we see this trend accelerating regardless of regulation, security or price volatility.
Of course, we still see many jurisdictions pushing back on cryptocurrency through regulations, but we do believe by year-end 2020, we will see a Bitcoin ETF listed in the United States. This event could be the catalyst to push Bitcoin above $14,000.
One of the main drivers for this expectation is that similar ETFs have already been approved in Europe, and we also believe that the demand for this investment is widespread amongst traditional investors and institutional investors – we expect regulators will be willing to forge a compromise. It is worth noting that the largest accounting firms – Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG – have already adopted digital currency accounting platforms. In addition, we see the derivatives market as a stabiliser, which should also help regulators to look favourably on a Bitcoin ETF.
Andy Cheung, head of operations at OKEx
Quantum computing to shape future cryptocurrencies
Quantum computing will become impossible to ignore in 2020. Google just made a major breakthrough in quantum supremacy, publishing the results of a test where its 54-qubit processor performed a computation in 200 seconds that it says would have previously taken 10,000 years. The imminence of quantum computing holds major implications for the cryptocurrency industry.
Today, cryptocurrencies’ pseudo-random generation of keys leaves them susceptible to exploitation by hackers. Quantum computing increases the likelihood of predicting software-generated values, presenting major security concerns. In 2020, the first public quantum computers are coming onto the market.
With Amazon’s latest cloud service, Braket, providing quantum computers to the public, expect to see traditional blockchain networks challenged by quantum-secure networks. Quantum-secure networks, such as those that leverage quantum entanglement to generate provable random numbers and next-generation hashing algorithms, will be poised to succeed in an era of quantum computing.
While I certainly hope that the cryptocurrency market rebounds in 2020, Bitcoin may continue its struggles due to its issues with speed, scalability, and resource requirements. Bitcoin originally set out to take on legacy payment systems, but it has not successfully achieved this. Transactions on the Bitcoin network can take up to 10-15 minutes, making it ill-equipped for mainstream payments. Bitcoin also requires high entry points for network participation, which equates to massive computational power. Bitcoin has also faced issues over the last few years with scalability, which can’t be easily solved.
In 2020, I predict we will start to see other cryptocurrency payment systems gain momentum that tackle these challenges and deliver payment solutions that meets the needs of today’s global economy.
Richard Dennis, founder and CEO at temtum
Crypto purchases with fiat
With crypto spreading to the masses, it would become easier to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with fiat money. This could be done through folks who already own crypto or through a growing network of crypto ATMs.
Just like we use our bank accounts, our crypto wallets would provide us access to cash through various crypto ATMs. As virtual currency ATMs become ubiquitous, it would be interesting to see people purchase digital assets with cash.
Also, the resistance to imposed government restrictions and other obstacles will create new DeFi-based P2P currency exchange platforms. These platforms will offer their services through mobile finance mediums and will enable any user to become an agent and exchange crypto for cash directly with their peers safely from/in any place in the world.
Alexey Ermakov, CEO and founder of Aximetria
More governments and businesses to announce their own cryptocurrencies
I predict that Facebook’s Libra will dominate the spotlight again in 2020. When Libra launched earlier this year, it not only signalled a sea change in the industry, but forced regulators to take cryptocurrency seriously. Government leaders in the United States and abroad are now wrestling with how they’ll handle blockchain technology and crypto payments as we enter a new decade.
China’s central bank is doubling down on its efforts to launch a cryptocurrency in response to Libra, and other countries may do the same. In 2020, I expect to see more governments and business leaders announce their own cryptocurrencies, and while this legitimises the industry, we must stay skeptical. Ask yourself what the motivation is behind these projects, and if they’re in it for the right reasons.
In 2019 we saw many crypto projects crash and burn. Scammers were revealed. Inexperienced teams were exposed. I predict that in 2020, the weeding out of poorly executed crypto projects will continue. We’ll see more and more cryptocurrencies that popped up in 2017 hit zero, and their teams fade away or move on to different projects. I predict 98% of crypto projects and their currencies will go to zero or have no viable exit for their holders. As the crypto ecosystem matures, every project needs to have a viable use case, strong funding, strong community, and an experienced leadership team to succeed.
While the price of Bitcoin has been a bit of a disappointment in 2019, I think Bitcoin’s halving in May could spike the price. I expect to see Bitcoin reach $11,000 around this time. The communities that believe in Bitcoin will continue to HODL, regardless of price fluctuations, and by now it’s clear that Bitcoin has proven itself as a long-term investment and store of value.
I would further venture to say Bitcoin will hit $2m a coin in the next 5 years so long as the core dev team doesn’t destroy it accidentally from within, causing a crypto catastrophe and pushing the entire crypto ecosystem from decentralised freedom into government-backed cryptos that they will feel safer in.
Robert Beadles, president at Monarch
Cryptojacking to climb with price hikes
Cryptojacking will move in line with cryptocurrency prices. If prices increase, we’ll see more cryptomining; as they fall, attackers will find other monetisation strategies.
As people move to more locked down devices, cryptojacking will become increasingly prevalent, monetising threats through the consumer’s electricity bill.
Joe Jaroch, senior director of cybersecurity strategy, Webroot
2020s to be a decade of blockchain innovation and adoption
Cryptocurrencies have arguably been the radical fintech innovation of the decade. In less than a decade, blockchain and crypto tech has unleashed a wave of innovation and ideas for the future of finance and payments. As we complete 10 years of bitcoin, its value has increased from $0.03 in March 2010 to its current value of $6,000 (November 2019). However, the spike to $20,000 in 2017 due to an investor frenzy will not be forgotten and although it may not see these heights in the short-term we could expect more investor interest throughout the course of the next decade.
In addition, this year’s hearing surrounding Facebook and its entry has certainly paved the way for further interesting developments. It was more of a timing issue, as Facebook already under the public eye for privacy issues, came out with radical plans for its crypto token that immediately raised fears in EU and US governments that the Libra would circumvent monetary sovereignties.
Under an increasingly liberal China, which is backing a digital Yuan under hopes of furthering a worldwide adoption, a blanket regulatory approach from the west would handover digital supremacy to China and led to a splinternet model.
While the 2010s has been an exploratory phase – introducing the concepts of crypto tokens and blockchain to the world, the 2020s will be the decade for innovation and application. Stable currencies like the BOLT Token, which is backed by a real world application and utility will yield actual value.
Christel Quek, chief commercial officer and co-founder at BOLT.Global
Supply chain blockchain applications to bring measurable benefits
Firms will gain measurable benefits from blockchain in conjunction with IoT and AI in logistics use cases.
Today, supply chain transactions are coordinated across multiple parties, and spread across multiple geographies and legal jurisdictions. Some of these parties will be organisations; some will be individuals; and some may be automated, network-connected devices. Solutions that leverage blockchain in conjunction with IoT, and potentially AI, will cut supply chain costs and boost CX through seamless logistics.
The IoT device: Tracks and sensors the products, providing answers to questions such as: Where is the product? Was it too hot or cold? (particularly useful when transporting food) Is it genuine? Each connected device acts as a node on the blockchain network, authenticating the transaction and providing an immutable record.
The AI is the learning system; it looks at the behavior of the component over time across the ecosystem, correlates with other data points (weather, market data), then makes prescriptive recommendations OR automates decisions. Smart contracts built into the blockchain give the ability to execute code autonomously, which is ideal in an ecosystem environment, when many parties interact but have a limited relationship (and therefore trust) with one another.
However, utopian vision of enterprises across industries migrating all their processes onto shared blockchains, and interacting on a trusted ecosystem, still seems far-fetched. Blockchain projects that are not narrow in focus continuously run into problems with scaling. Businesses continue to start with a desire for blockchain, rather than the business problem, which is often solvable without the need for distributed ledger technology.
Helena Schwenk, global analyst relations manager at Exasol
Blockchain to be integrated into business models
Blockchain’s moment in the mainstream is just around the corner and 2020 will be the year where it will be implemented into business models in a variety of ways. Take Coca-Cola for example, the company is set to adopt blockchain technology to manage its cross-part transactions.
The payment space is set to be revamped; In the igaming industry for example a blockchain payment system will streamline the entire gaming experience – strengthening trust between players and gaming providers through transparent data storage.”
No matter the industry, through blockchain, positive changes can be made and 2020 will be the year these changes will begin to have an effect on a wider audience.
Juliet Adelstein, co-CEO of GanaEight Coin (G8C)
Bitcoin’s safe-haven status will be put to the test
Typically, when investors want to defend their portfolios against future volatility, they buy so-called ‘safe haven’ assets which benefit during times of economic turmoil, such as gold, US treasuries, or the Japanese Yen.
But what about bitcoin as a safe-haven asset? This will be a question that will be increasingly discussed (if not tested) in 2020.
On the one hand, bitcoin is still an extremely volatile asset with 5-10% daily price swings still commonplace, and as such is naturally considered as a high risk investment under normal considerations. As such we would expect it to be subject to the same ‘risk-on, risk-off’ investor sentiment as other high risk assets such as equities or options/derivatives.
On the other hand, bitcoin has consistently shown that is in fact uncorrelated with most traditional financial asset classes. This is quite an interesting property which means that bitcoin’s price doesn’t necessarily follow other asset classes off the cliff when there is a large market downturn. As such, uncorrelated assets are popular tools with investors to hedge their portfolios.
Being an uncorrelated, censorship-resistant asset, it’s quite possible that bitcoin will increasingly adopt the identity of a safe-haven; a lifeboat for capital when the wider markets go sour. But it’s also possible that, when it comes down to the crunch, it will be dumped along with other high risk assets in favour of traditional safe-havens. I suspect the former, although it really depends if bitcoin has had enough time to acquire investors comfort and safe-haven identity before this is put to the test.
Andy Bryant, co-head and chief operating officer (EMEA) of bitFlyer
Signs of a crypto spring
It is always difficult to predict where immature technology and economic activity might go. However, there are signs that we are entering a ‘crypto spring’ with well-funded projects, blockchain patents and a maturing of the crypto space.
Bitcoin, as a deflationary currency, will continue to appreciate in value longer term and other cryptocurrencies that seek to act as a store of value will follow this path. There will also be a clearer distinction between forms of cryptocurrencies as payment tokens, utility tokens, asset tokens and security tokens. The market will become increasingly sophisticated to understand the differences, assisted by greater regulatory scrutiny and clarification.
Blockchain and other forms of distributed ledger technology will start to be applied as solutions to genuine problems, albeit in a more limited form than prophesised by blockchain evangelists rather than as solutions looking for a problem to solve (or worse, fabricating a problem to which someone’s blockchain was the magic solution).
There will continue to be bull and bear runs as the crypto ecosystem matures. However, at the same time, the magnitude of the runs will tend to settle down as the market becomes more sophisticated and regulatory oversight starts to increasingly bite.
Will crypto replace centralised financial systems? Not anytime soon. Governments and incumbent financial institutions have taken the momentum out of the original drive that built up between 2009 and 2017. These large actors have ingested that same momentum and are now looking at how they use crypto technology to augment (if not entrench) existing financial systems.
Adrian Shedden, fintech lawyer at Keystone Law
The gap between regulated and unregulated will grow
Regulation in its own right is likely to be one of the prevailing blockchain trends in 2020. January will mark the formal arrival of Liechtenstein’s Blockchain Act, one of the most advanced regulatory regimes for the industry in the world – one that balances support for innovation with importance advances in customer and asset protection.
Where Liechtenstein is leading, others are set to eventually follow. And this will mark the shift of the blockchain, and specifically cryptocurrency, market from an unregulated one which has attracted a justifiably poor reputation in some corners, to the kind of regulated industry that can provide a stable home for investor capital. Next year is when we expect this trend to accelerate, and the gap between regulated and unregulated exchanges to become much more distinct.
Kiran Raj, CEO at Bittrex Global
Cryptojacking is becoming a widespread problem in the industry and will continue to be as we move into 2020. Cryptojacking is where malware gets implanted on a device with the sole purpose of mining cryptocurrency for the hacker.
It seems that criminals have discovered it’s easier to host Cryptojacking malware on machines to mine cryptocurrency rather than trying to execute traditional ransomware attacks. While not as devastating as other attacks, nefarious cryptomining malware on a device will steal CPU processing resources leading to a slowdown in performance and extra drain on battery powered devices – resulting in a shorter lifespan of the affected device. It can also lead to unexpected costs if running on a paid for cloud service.
Very few would agree to this, but it must be noted that there is a move by online sites to ‘legitimately’ ask users to lend their CPUs for mining while visiting that website, primarily as a payment mechanism. This has arisen in part due to the widespread adoption of ad blockers. Cryptomining, on the other hand, occurs when users are tricked into downloading executables or they visit hijacked sites where ads run cryptomining scripts.
Professor Kevin Curran, a senior member of the IEEE and professor of cybersecurity at Ulster University
Growing industry adoption of blockchain
The blockchain market is still fairly new, so that means there’s a lot of opportunity for new ideas and growth within this area. Blockchain will be used predominately by the financial sector for cybersecurity, this is one of the leading areas, particularly when it comes remittance and money transfers because of distributed ledger technology.
In financial services, we see areas like alternative currency exchanges, asset management, insurance and even crowdfunding using blockchain technology more and more. The prevailing use for blockchain at this moment is for mobile wallets, such a virtual currency and universal payment systems.
Other areas where blockchain is set to grow includes identity management, authenticity related to security use, and infrastructure. However, blockchain and DLT solutions have come under fire in the recent times, so there is still huge uncertainty in this area. Blockchain needs to prove its role by engaging with enterprises and providing more use-cases to reach that next level.
Aftab Malhotra, founder of GrowthEnabler
Criminal interest in the Monero cryptocurrency
We expect to see further increasing cybercriminal interest in Monero, the privacy and anonymity-centric cryptocurrency, as part of a gradual shift away from Bitcoin (BTC) towards other cryptocurrencies that can’t be as easily tracked.
This may partially be a result of law enforcement takedowns as well as self-imposed shutdowns of Bitcoin tumblers in 2019. These interruptions underscored the cybercriminal dependency on these services – which are critical in BTC money-laundering operations – and which are less imperative with a coin like Monero.
Many cryptojackers also now mine Monero due in part to the fact that it’s privacy centric and thus highly attractive to criminals; we see the most intense interest in Monero in the English language underground.
Liv Rowley, threat intelligence analyst at Blueliv
Blockchain will start to shake up supply chains in 2020
Use of Blockchain to solve supply chain sustainability and compliance challenges will move from proofs of concept and pilot efforts to full fledge deployments in 2020 driven by large global brands with well-defined supply chains. The projects that get funded will be those that have proven return like provenance tracking, contract compliance, supplier diversity and ethical sourcing. Separately, these same companies along with others with more fluid supply chain, will begin building out industry consortiums to identify industry wide challenges that blockchain can address. Early movers will be the food, manufacturing and pharma industries.
Bernadette Bulacan, chief evangelist at Icertis
The end of optimistic experimentation
Optimistic experimentation comes to an end as we reach 2020. We’ll see new challenges arise from the fact that these experiments are nearing adulthood. The most promising of these applications continues to be exchanges of information and rich automated workflows between co-operative and sometimes competitive organisations, and government bodies. To date, these players’ best interest is to collaborate, as these companies achieve a robust understanding and familiarity with the technology. We predict that these mutual incentives of learning will be outweighed by more competitive desires. We will see organisations now try to break the limits of these systems in more oppositional ways.
Blockchain and contract law battle it out in the courts: which wins practically, a paper contract or an immutable smart contract? Enterprise blockchains aren’t so immutable, as blockchain endeavors suffer and recover from mundane events like software bugs or dramatic ones stemming from malicious participants; we’ll see how hardline each system is to immutability guarantees.
On a positive note, blockchain platforms continue to evolve and mature in how they see their role in security. This maturity is marked by attention to how people will use the platforms, rather than the security of the platforms themselves.
We see this manifest as attention in the field to smart contract security analysis technologies that can reason about smart contract code, investments in smart contract programming languages that are easier for developers and tools to reason about (and have formal ‘safety’ properties), and programming platforms that provide safety to end users by moving closer to workloads that organisations care about – and providing security out of the box.
Travis Biehn, principal consultant at Synopsys
Blockchain to boost sustainable investments
Green finance, defined as the integrating of environmental protection with economic profits, is gaining traction within the financial industry and will continue to in 2020. Blockchain-enabled platforms and processes manage complex transactions more efficiently and will improve the transparency, traceability and cost-effectiveness of sustainable investments. As a result, sustainable development and other climate-related initiatives will be more attractive for investors.
Smart contracts, a key element of blockchain technology, increase autonomy and speed of execution for financial transactions, enabling task automation and minimising cash trapped in the value chain of a transaction. This will help financial institutions conduct green finance trade internationally, increasing global cooperation and further cementing the global dedication to climate action.
Blockchain technology displays very promising solutions to facilitate and accelerate sustainable investments. Well beyond the buzz around cryptocurrencies, the tech community is truly inspired at participating in a more sustainable world, which requires much more transparency, accountability and sense of emergency.
Vincent Manier, CFO at ENGIE Impact
There will be an uptick in cryptojacking
2019 saw a decline in cryptojacking—secretly using someone’s computing power to carry out the cryptomining task. This decline was not surprising because the price of cryptocurrency has also decreased following its zeitgeist moment in 2018. However, recently, cryptocurrency prices have been creeping up.
They will likely move past the breakeven point for currency miners, i.e., the point where it is once again profitable to run cryptojacking campaigns. With successful miners able to go undetected for months, this is an issue that is likely to linger throughout the year, making it essential for organisations to monitor for these threats actively.
Fabian Libeau, VP EMEA at RiskIQ
Blockchain to rise again?
The blockchain is unquestionably an ingenious invention, but has gone through what Gartner calls in their hypercycles as the trough of disillusionment. It promised much but has delivered very little to date. Ever since it emerged as the ‘next big thing’, there have been very few meaningful applications for blockchain in the real world.
So, what’s holding blockchain back from mainstream adoption? There are a few elements here, but broadly speaking it comes down to cost, scalability and trust.
With industry leaders, such as Amazon or Microsoft committing to building services around blockchain, we will begin to see accelerated adoption as they tackle the issues that have previously stopped it making its way into the mainstream – with real-world solutions coming into play from 2020.
Aaron Harris, CTO at Sage
A greater focus on blockchain applications
There is little doubt in my mind that blockchain is evolving at some speed. The language has changed positively from ‘What is it?’ to discussing the implementation of usage cases without getting het-up about the technology. Yes, there are still occasional entertaining forays and debates on the relative merits of Turing complete vs non-Turing complete languages, but these types of discussion tend to be very much limited to the inner workings of IT departments rather than the boardroom.
My prediction for 2020 is that the technology itself will become even less of a feature in the discussions and there will be more of a focus on application. I’d see this as a very healthy evolution as it would show the move from concept to implementation.
In particular, I expect we will see an increasing use of smart contracts alongside traditional contracts beyond the small scale proof of concepts and pilots we have seen to date, and developing into operational reality. I would also expect to see usage cases include increasing adoption of blockchain for chain-of-custody transfers to improve supply chain transparency, and a wider adoption of the technology in tracking transfer of ownership.
The less we talk about blockchain technology as a ‘thing’ in its own right, the more I expect it will become part of the technology furniture.
Iain Steel, chief procurement services officer at TLT
2020 is the year we will see blockchain move past the ‘disruptive’ phase and into our daily lives. This could mean integration with everyday tech such as health records and smoke detectors, as well as a possible integration with many sectors, such as sensors and IoT, digital access, authentication of data, and digital identities especially.
It could also play a role in the rise of smart cities. Take pollution control for example. With growing global fears around climate change, how we manage our cities is becoming ever more important. Blockchain can facilitate better urban planning and solve pertinent problems like waste, congested traffic and population growth with more data.
Asia will also remain at the forefront of innovation in blockchain, with China’s digital currency set to be rolled out next year. Given the potential of digital assets, this move could be check-mate for China in the trade war against the US. Singapore is also leading the world at the moment in terms of being a conducive environment for blockchain and cryptocurrency companies. In fact, as of February 2019, over 634 companies were incorporated in Singapore with a combined market cap of approximately $8.3bn.
While change will always have detractors, the truth is that, thanks to the involvement of governments and institutions around the world, we’re already well on the way to mainstream acceptance of crypto. And as global governments start racing to launch their own cryptocurrencies in order to keep up with the big tech corporations, this trend is set to accelerate.
Don Guo, CEO at Broctagon Fintech Group
Changing technologies, growing applications
Making predictions is a difficult business, but there are a number of areas that have garnered increased interest over the past 6 months within the blockchain sphere that we will see develop over the course of 2020.
Firstly, progress will be made within infrastructure building with the move to Ethereum 2.0, that is moving away from a proof-of-work system of transaction validation to proof-of-stake. Proof-of-stake is expected to be more scalable and energy efficient than proof-of-work, so this will help address those scalability issues in the most popular smart contract ecosystem.
Resource tokens will be an extension to the sharing economy but on the infrastructure/resource level. Why pay AWS if we can use each other’s resources?
We will see increasing popularity and adoption of DeFi products (decentralised finance) such as open financial tools. These include payments, credit & lending, decentralised exchanges and other DeFi products such as hedging, shorting, derivative trading and prediction markets.
Gaming and digital collectibles: blockchain based video games and digital collectibles. We’re yet to see the first successful gaming application in 2020. No major application of Blockchain in gaming has been seen yet, but many projects are working on it following investment in 2019.
Luke Gniwecki, head of product at Cudo Ventures