The new year has begun and the same applies to the still young and fledgling field of cryptocurrencies. As bitcoin enters its first decade and others follow behind, a person does not have to be a crypto skeptic to recognize that the journey did not include everyone. In the domain, a range of smaller alt-coins have vanished or ended up on life support with little to no hope of a cure. At the same time, the big ones are down across the board and looking like no big movement of their price in the upward direction will take place anytime soon.
All this might be a somber view of the field in a period when most are trying to assess whether or not there is any wind for the crypto ship in 2019. Here as well, turbulent seas await and they will include many daunting challenges, some of which will surely reap their victims and put a permanent stop on the development of some networks. Yet, in the midst of the trials and tribulation of the year to come, there are numerous reasons to be at least partially optimistic.
The Year of Downed Prices
The previous 12 months showed that 2017 and 2018 could not stand in greater contrast. 2017 was the rocket ship that took the cryptocurrency networks to incredible heights in terms of their prices and market capitalization. 2018 was a year when a rising number of voices pointed to the fact that crypto should not be accessed only through these two factors.
These were not that numerous a year previously, mainly because everyone liked the fact that one BTC is being sold for $10,000, followed by $15,000 and then $20,000. When the boom of the prices was going on, most were content for the media and the public to buy into the hype and thus add fuel to it. It was the gold rush that was mixed in with the dot-com craze. It did not last and the entire 2018 was a protracted awakening call that dropped the prices and market caps several times over. At the start of 2019, on BTC can be procured for about $3,600.
The price is still far greater than the $1,000 with which BTC started in 2017, but there are fears that the same price can be once again reached by the bear market in this year. Like always, no one can tell if or when will that occur, but the volatility of the market remains high. So high, in fact, that many who thought they can take it actually cannot. These are now only distant visitors to the crypto market while much smaller numbers took up their place.
Currently, the volatility is smaller on the count of a smaller volume of trades, but this will return, taking back the prices up or down, or both. The same challenge will remain present in 2019 and there is no way to resolve it, along with the fact that most traders like it this way – with patience and enough money, the volatility equals profits.
Blockchain Development will Stall
The previous year saw some bitter hard forks, like that which split the bitcoin cash network, but also promises of incredible changes in the way networks function. The later ones were headed by ethereum and its movement from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, but this, like many others, failed to materialize. Now, 2019 is a new target and like so many times in digital development, including apps, esports, online services, and other ventures, failed deadlines rarely bring about better products.
Hopefully, they just make sure they appear on the market instead of falling through. Now, the same networks which tried to innovate in the previous year have to come to terms that they failed – maybe not completely in the technical sense, but definitely in the domain of attracting people’s attention, either as users or investors.
Will 2019 find a way to amend this in some shape or form? Most likely it will not. Ethereum, as the leading network in the soon-to-be-changed pack, will have the most eyeballs on it, but right now, the move to proof-of-stake remains a dubious prospect for the upcoming 12 months.
Investments will Ease Up
The coattails of 2017 included some huge investment drives. From online crypto betting platforms like Unikrn to Coinbase buying businesses like Earn.com, the investments did not falter in early 2018. It did soon after and now there are no reasons to expect huge influxes of funds into blockchain projects. This does not include the notion that 2019 will be a year of scarcity, but it will surely put many investors in a more cautious place where big funding rounds will not be that regular.
This will tie in perfectly with the faltering of the crypto development, which will likely feed the cycle of a slow year. Yet, the crypto domain would not be that if there would be a big chance that the same trend fails to materialize, at least not for the whole 12 months. In that case, the second part of the year could see a change in direction where both emerge once more.
Finally, like every year, the issue of government regulating cryptocurrencies remain the biggest latent question for the entire industry. In 2017, the decision of the Japanese government to allow commerce in bitcoin was one of the original elements that fueled its price rise. Today, there are few who hope to see something similar appearing once again in the short term, but most are also hoping for an absence of huge clampdowns.
All this ends up as a somber picture of a field in a passive state or a position similar to hibernation, where better times are waited upon for any relevant change or growth. However, ultimately, the crypto market is still very much around and working, proving the biggest skeptics wrong once again. If the cycle of life continues, there will be better times ahead, no matter when will they actually come about. Until then, the domain needs to stay open for business and as far from the edge of irrelevance as possible.