Over the last decade, we have witnessed the massive development of crypto. Formerly a geeky trend, crypto was once a questionable and not easily understandable invention that was used for pizza payments. Since those early days, cryptocurrencies have been transformed into a store and measure of value for many people.
Those who were at the forefront of the industry profited greatly, and a new wave of millionaires was born, along with new social groups. Crypto anarchists and Bitcoin (BTC) advocates formed an army, and despite the sharp fall during the crypto winter of 2019, we’ve certainly since gained ground.
After the ashes of investor despair, the advent of stable crypto — stablecoins — began. 2017 and 2018 were both “the year of Bitcoin.” 2019 was the year of decentralized finance, and 2020 already looks like the year of the stablecoin. What’s coming next? Let’s try to unravel the future with possible use case predictions.
Exploring digital currency perspectives
1. Personal enrichment
The primary drivers for crypto popularity up to 2017 had been the basic and understandable desire of many to get rich. The ones who bought Bitcoin during the early years made real fortunes; investors who risked and leveraged an opportunity in early initial coin offerings such as Tezos (XTZ), EOS and Ether (ETH) have seen up to 1,400% increases in incomes. Right now, in the wake of the halving that just passed, speculation on prices is still on the rise.
An example is the controversial John McAfee, who predicted a very bold thought about Bitcoin hitting $1 million per coin by the end of the year. McAfee believes that once Bitcoin takes over the global economy, demand will increase and traditional dollars will no longer be needed. Meanwhile, the owner of Snapchat, Jeremy Liew, and Blockchain co-founder Peter Smith predict that the number one crypto asset’s price will reach $500,000 per Bitcoin by 2030.
At the same time, the CEO of Pantera Capital, Dan Morehead, examined the year-to-date performance of Bitcoin before the May 12 halving in his letter to investors and predicted that Bitcoin will reach a $100,000 valuation by August 2021.
Then there’s Warren Buffett, who has no intention of spending Berkshire’s $137 billion cash pile, and if stocks plummet, Bitcoin may see another significant correction. Speaking at the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting, Buffett said that $137 billion is not a large cash pile if bad things start to pile up in the market. Berkshire has significant stakes in leading conglomerates such as Coca-Cola and Kraft Heinz. If the market begins to go in the opposite direction than analysts anticipate, the cash pile can be used to assist Berkshire’s portfolio companies.
2. Reshaped payments
Many people in the world are still not aware of the existence and potential of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Many regard Bitcoin as being in another bubble. The market capitalization is still not strictly comparable to the asset value of stocks or even the value of tech company Apple. However, major players such as JPMorgan Chase and other banks have already recognized distributed ledger technology as the main driver for system enhancement. There is a lot of ground to cover, as numerous processes strive to reshape this field.
First of all, many companies, thriving businesses and even global brands may start using cryptocurrencies to pay for their services. Doing so will make it possible to remove middlemen from the equation, reducing final costs and securing cheaper, more accessible services for end users.
There are already people who earn income in crypto working in a related field, but mainstream adoption is yet to come. Bitcoin has become a store of value for many people, making it a more convenient investment option than any other, outpacing even gold.
Of course, the digital analogs of United States dollars and euros already serve that role, and with the massive increase in mobile use, estimates suggest that 50% of the world’s population will switch to noncash transactions by the year 2030. In the digital payments segment, the number of users is expected to reach 4.4 billion by the year 2023.
3. Replacement of fiat currencies
Many crypto adopters in traditional venture capital, such as Tim Draper, believe that fiat currencies will disappear over time as more and more people start using various cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether and others. The primary reason for this adoption is ever more people believing that cryptocurrencies are a reliable store of value across national borders and political systems.
Taking into account the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we can expect an even faster rate of adoption.
Stablecoins represent the latest link of digital asset evolution. Using these assets can be a powerful instrument to ensure stability on volatile cryptocurrency ground. Governments will have more to do with stablecoins than with other crypto assets. Eventually, stablecoins may even replace traditional fiat currency, but that future remains a long way off.
4. Integration with IoT
More than two decades ago, back in 1999, British technologist Kevin Ashton coined the term “Internet of Things” to define a network that connects not only people but also the objects around them. Back in the day, many considered this something worthy of a science fiction film. Today however, IoT is a huge, yet still rapidly growing, network of smart objects that work together in collecting and analyzing data and autonomously performing actions. It has become a reality thanks to the development of incredible wireless communication technologies and data analytics.
By the end of 2019, consumer spending on smart home systems reached more than $100 billion. Spending is expected to continue rising through 2023 to an astonishing level of $157 billion!
From 2015 to 2019, the number of publicly known IoT platforms doubled, reaching 620. Big players such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google have also entered the space in an attempt to capture part of the market.
Global spending on IoT is expected to reach $1.1 trillion in 2022, with new technologies such as 5G driving future market growth.
The fusion of two futuristic technologies that are already here seems quite an exciting development. IoT is growing fast, as reported by International Data Corporation, and it is expected that blockchain and IoT technologies will join forces soon.
This integration will set a new standard for scalability and security frameworks for interaction in the IoT devices sector. Moreover, cryptocurrencies such as stablecoins can really provide a decent and efficient way of conducting investments for smart devices.
5. The new age of gaming
Crypto casinos and gaming have already been using crypto for some years now. Quite contrary to regulatory bodies, crypto and blockchain are considered to be a much-needed evolution for gaming concepts, providing numerous benefits. With the esports sector on the rise, more and more companies will ultimately adopt blockchain technologies. The global esports market was valued at nearly $865 million in 2018, and it’s estimated to reach $1.79 billion in 2022.
Esports and gaming usually involve people that are quite advanced in technology, making it a perfect testing ground for the latest developments in the blockchain field.
Over the next few years, different online systems may enjoy DLT-led advancements, as leading video gaming brands have already started work in the field. Epic Games, the studio behind Fortnite, is researching new ways to incorporate blockchain into gaming experiences. While others talk about the future of blockchain, the gaming industry is already living it.
Opening the box of crypto use cases
At the moment, the world is still at the earliest stages of financial technology development, and the forthcoming impact of blockchain on many fields including cloud computing, IoT and artificial intelligence cannot truly be estimated yet, with the potential so rich and vast — and already in development.
Nevertheless, it is exciting to witness new fusions with existing technologies and rollouts of even newer technologies as blockchain opens up ever more options in the future. Taking into regard high demand in both technology use cases and digital assets, blockchain technology is the future. And even though we’ve had over a decade of development, the best is yet to come.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Alex Axelrod is the CEO and founder of Aximetria and Pay Reverse. He is also a serial entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in leading world-class technological roles within a large, number-one national mobile operator and leading financial organizations. Prior to these roles, he was the director of big data at the research and development center of JSFC AFK Systems.