As we approach 2019, it seems like it will contrast heavily with this ending year, with blockchain facing increased scrutiny by regulators and post-bubble market dynamics.
Nevertheless, these conditions should give blockchain greater clarity and a more solid market footing. In this climate, several new projects and established companies have shown flashes of great things to come.
As the cryptocurrency market begins to stabilize, the media cycle switches gears, and regulators provide greater clarity, conditions are perfect for a renaissance brought on by the projects taking blockchain in new directions.
According to a brief research among crypto veterans who preferred not to be quoted by name, followed are several blockchain projects and companies that might spark interest this upcoming year.
New challengers emerge to take on Ethereum
However, global blockchain innovation is not slowing down and new players are dead set on grabbing Ethereum’s place in the crypto hierarchy. As we approach the year 2019, the following companies can be considered as top challengers to Ethereum’s perceived dominance. These three platforms have taken big leaps in recent months and pose a real challenge to Ethereum.
As Ethereum and Bitcoin work hard to iron out their individual issues concerning governance, economics and security, Qtum continually refines their Proof of Stake platform. By incorporating the best parts of both Bitcoin and Ethereum, Qtum is a secure smart contract solutions representing what could eventually be a next phase of blockchain.
The company recently released their x86 virtual machine, which will propel its value proposition over Ethereum by welcoming developers who code in any language. It has also encoded segwit by default, opening up interoperability with the Lightning Network (a cross-blockchain efficiency protocol).
Qtum plans to launch QtumX in 2019, which will help major corporations take advantage of optimized smart contract automation, effectively welcoming the “mainstream” to blockchain.
In a recent integration with Amazon, QTUM is providing a smart contract development platform on AWS marketplace. AWS users and developers will now have the ability to develop and launch smart contracts via an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) efficiently, and cost-effectively.
At a time when new, disruptive platforms like Netflix are draining the dollars out of their respective industries, TRON aims to take it a step further.
Instead of a centralized entity that chooses what content to host and how users can consume it, TRON puts this responsibility in the hands of the people. What results is a decentralized marketplace where people can host, store and consume user content on their own terms and free of middlemen.
TRON takes action when it comes to developing itself, which was evidenced recently by its purchase of BitTorrent, and the launch of Project Atlas making it one of the largest decentralized networks in the world.
As TRX is increasingly tied into the content ecosystem, people switch to the tokenized and tailored content subscription model instead of today’s buffet-style alternative.
Aelf is building a scalable blockchain and decentralized cloud computing network. They want to make blockchains more workable in the real world by increasing the number of transactions per second (TPS) that they can handle.
While major blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin struggle to manage double-figures TPS, Aelf has proven that it can handle 15,000. This is done by splitting each single node into two clusters, spread over multiple computers.
The goal is to make blockchains more feasible for businesses and enterprises that work with large volumes of data, bringing the technology into the mainstream.
Standing on the shoulders of giants
Some blockchain ventures are a safer bet than others simply due to their association with accomplished, established and highly successful companies.
Big companies are constantly looking for novel solutions to integrate into the company’s existing operations. In the following we look at three companies that have received the backing of global giants such as IBM, JD.com and Coinbase.
Another industry said to be positively affected by blockchain is the environment and sustainability. Veridium is an environmental blockchain company, producing sustainability solutions for Fortune 500 companies and collaborating with IBM.
Using a set of proprietary protocols developed by EcoSmart Labs, this project has created a tokenized carbon offset solution, to bring new liquidity to environmental trading markets and create simplified carbon accounting for enterprise users. The protocols also offset the carbon emissions associated with the digital token itself, thereby mitigating the growing concern over the carbon emissions associated with the blockchain industry.
As cryptocurrency remains the top blockchain idea to gain adoption with retail users, and crypto assets mature, it becomes necessary to use more complex tools.
For ambitious crypto investors, companies like Caspian have created a dashboard that allows one to build and control their own fund, including asset allocation and re-balancing tools, order execution management and connectivity with all major exchanges. Their crypto fund management suite is already in use, and partnered with Coinbase to deliver their solution to the masses.
Caspian is an evolved cryptocurrency trade and risk management interface, like a universal remote commanding various exchanges, trades and assets in a portfolio.
Devery is an open-source protocol for blockchain-based verification of goods and services. Coming out of JD.com’s accelerator, Devery removes the need for trust by leveraging unique, verifiable identifiers for products and services that are immutably stored on the blockchain.
By providing open-source toolsets, users can integrate the Devery protocol that can be used to build application-level verification services.
The inherent transparency of the underlying blockchain provides authentication and provenance, that facilitates a competitive market of third-party verification services – for specialty commercial markets such as ecommerce or luxury counterfeiting.
Can blockchain startups disrupt innovative industries?
Blockchain projects need a mixture of team, product, vision and developer engagement in order to reach a decent level.
They also need to stay strong during the highs and lows of this fragile market. These companies are trying to change several different industries using blockchain.
Some of the industries blockchain was always counted on to disrupt, is the health industry. This project tackles the problem of centralized electronic health record data storage, by transferring data sovereignty back to the individual.
MediBloc is a decentralized, open-source healthcare data platform, designed to give full ownership of personal data to patients with permissioned access control – and an opportunity to monetize their data. As part of their ecosystem, participants such as medical institutions, research organizations, insurers and healthcare providers can find a secure and transparent exchange of data.
MediBloc intends to shift the medical data paradigm to a patient-centric approach, by building a medical information economic ecosystem with consumers at its core, and ability for medical services to be built on top of the platform.
Blockchain exists in thousands of different shapes and sizes, and each platform or application built on blockchain is capable of something unique. The interoperability of all these disparate blockchains is an ever-present question facing the usefulness of blockchain, and while some have tried to connect blockchains, Cardstack suggests a different approach.
Their system represents individual dApps or platforms as cards, and users can create custom business flows or services for themselves, by stacking different “cards” on top of one another or in a certain order.
This open source framework is catching fire with developers who recognize its potential to scale blockchain for the mass market. The media is abuzz with rumors of new “Super dApps” spurred by the existence of platforms like Cardstack, which create the idea of “software orchestration”. Such a concept has a pertinent place in blockchain’s future and is likely to gain momentum in the coming years.
Virtual reality (VR) is always a hot field. Some projects offer a universal, secure and transparent currency for the world of virtual reality. The VR industry is seriously growing, and CEEK is such company that wants to use blockchain and crypto tokens to allow flexible interactions and transactions – in a virtual universe.
They have an existing VR infrastructure, including virtual venues where users can attend sports events, watch live music concerts, sit in classrooms and so on.
Their token offers secure transactions and the ability for users to own virtual items. The platform uses proof of stake and voting to give users a level of control and choice over what happens in the virtual world.