As 2016 begins, it is clear that the era of BitCoin, but also blockchain is entering a new phase. As the crisis of 2013 moves further into the past and the digital currency continues to demonstrate its ability to stay afloat, many are wondering what are the most promising things coming in the next 12 months. While the world still awaits the definite revelation who Satoshi Nakamoto really is, the scene for BitCoin and blockchain startups is stronger than ever before.
Recently, a South Korean company managed to raise almost $2 million for their remittance startup, bringing this service to a very tech oriented country, which already has a vibrant BitCoin community, like its E-Sports domain that accepts online bets in this digital currency. But, there are also other startup projects that are ongoing and looking for their big chance.
Here is the pick of the most important startups coming in 2016 according to Jad Mubaslat, the founder, and CEO of a BitCoin group BitQuick.co and an avid cryptocurrency user since 2011.
As a very well-funded startup, Blockstream is sometimes described as a somewhat stealthy company in the BitCoin domain which is working on the development of the digital currency, its assets and the smart contact technology it employs. Since it began working, the company has kept a low profile when it comes to the industry ecosystem, focusing more banner sidechains project that entered the beta phase and providing the public with its first commercial platform called Liquid.
The same is designed to speed up the transfer times that occur when different BitCoin exchanges are communicating with each other. Now, they are working on exploring their Lightning Network with a very ambitious and somewhat divisive mission – to place small transactions of BTC’s outside of the blockchain system so that they do not result in lag time and unnecessary fees. Its most important ability would be to reduce the number of active transactions that are settled inside of the blockchain, which should, in turn, scale down the size of the blocks themselves.
Currently, the network is facing many challenges with it comes to integration with the BitCoin core network. Mubaslat sees this type of initiative as something that will decrease the pressure on the issue of the block size while adding to the BitCoin network’s robustness. He also believes that Blockstream will spearhead this initiative, but by no means be the only one who will be working on this process in 2016.
At the same time, the BitCoin ideological puritans will most likely oppose the move, mainly because it infringes on the core network setup. Additionally, others will undoubtedly see a huge possibility to willingly or unwillingly open backdoor to the system that malicious parties might try to exploit.
The team behind the OpenBazaar is working on a customer application that will greatly expand the reach of this cryptocurrency when it comes to ordinary users. If it becomes successful, the OpenBazaar should gradually turn into an eBay equivalent for BitCoin, but built on an open source platform, significantly reduced fees for everyone in the process and a completely decentralized manner.
At this phase, Mubaslat believes OpenBazaar faces relatively easy problems, including the design and implementation of a reputation system that can be effective, but robust, but also building up the customer base in a quick enough manner. But, having in mind that the same startup raised $1 million in venture capital about 6 months ago, it is set for an impressive launch in 2016.
If it proves to be successful fast enough, it will provide the general public with a first big native BitCoin trading portal. For this year, the push to establish the digital currency with current non-users will be an exceedingly important one and OpenBazaar could make this happen.
While today users can do a lot of things with BitCoin, including betting online with it, a trading portal would open up a whole new level of user interest.
Zapchain is not a new startup in the sense that it is already up and running. But, as a social media platform that is powered by BitCoin use, Mubaslat labeled it as one of his personal favorites for 2016. The same platform uses on-chain micropayments systems that can be employed for tipping others that share or create relevant content. This way, the users who produce and create content that others find interesting can get a tangible boost for their effort.
Now, the network has the challenge of growing its user base while it at the same time tries to suppress spammers and those who would exploit the system for a financial advantage. Mubaslat believes that so far, Zapchain managed to curb the appearance of spammers and does have the incentive that is driving new users to embrace the platform.
For 2016, Mubaslat trusts that the network will continue on the path of growth. He also underlined that he believes that the same system of on-chain micropayments will be employed by other social networks, but also that Zapchain will attract users away from some established BitCoin communities that are not overly faithful to the idea of being unregulated and open to all discussions.
Up till this moment, the startup mining company BitFury raised more than $60 million, which is a huge sum of money. In 2016, BitFury will launch a new ASIC chip and it is scheduled to arrive in the first quarter. More importantly, the company’s data center located in Georgia will double the network’s hashing rate, which caused many to worry about the BitCoins integrity when it comes to mining decentralization.
Mubaslat, however, believes that this risk is being overstated and he also believes that the biggest effect of BitFury’s advancement will lead to higher levels of security for the entire network. The same levels will provide more robustness to the BitCoin network, which will definitely be needed as it continues to expand, and with this attract attention from those who would want to compromise it for malicious purposes.
At the same time, Mubaslat believes that compromising the decentralized nature of BitCoin would actually work against BitFury’s basic interests as a company determined to produce a profit in this domain. The same idea was repeated by the company’s CEO Valery Vavilov who promised that BitFury would act in the interest of the entire BitCoin network.
A Vibrant 2016
With all of the mentioned startups that show a lot of promise for this year, it is clear that BitCoin continues to evolve both in terms of quality of the network and hashing potential, but also when it comes to the services that are offered to the end users.