2018’s Top Three Blockchain Innovations
Towards the tail end of 2017, many technology industry pundits had already begun to proclaim 2018 as the Year of the Blockchain. This momentum gathered as the calendar turned from December to January, punditry turned to analysis, and predictions turned into true innovation. Why exactly were so many people bullish on the blockchain’s potential for 2018? Leaps in technology often build to a point of convergence, where functionality, mainstream acceptance, funding, and volume of creative thinkers all come together, building a tipping point that propels that tech forward.
2018 certainly saw a lot of that regarding the blockchain. Much of this was born out of the fact that in the period leading to 2018, some $6 billion was invested in the blockchain, with backing provided by everyone from start-up investors to government sectors. Not all of those projects and ideas made it to fruition. However, significant industry milestones were still achieved, and a number of projects broke past early-stage proof-of-concept stature and became publicly accessible and functional.
Three noteworthy projects this year are as follows.
The Brave Browser and its associated Basic Attention Token are poised to change the way we use the Internet. A lot of people think so too — there’s a reason why they raised nearly $36 million in May 2017. The biggest compliment I can give Brave is that they have become my browser of choice over the last year. What makes Brave stand apart? In short, it is a revolution in advertising and the user experience. By creating an ecosystem rather than a one-way experience, all parties — users and advertisers alike — enjoy benefits.
Brave, developed by Brendan Eich of Firefox fame, works by blocking 3rd party advertisements and malware; in exchange for this service, users earn Basic Attention Tokens by engaging with a smaller number of more effectively targeted ads. Publishers have a more efficient marketing budget and users aren’t bombarded with random ads, all powered by an open-source blockchain-based ecosystem.
In 2018, crypto investing moved from being a hot new and exotic asset that everyone wanted to the reality of small-cap liquidity issues. Also, taxes for these exotic assets can be confusing, and the short-term gains of 2018 can be heavy. This led to a number of initiatives to help crypto investors get some liquidity without losing their position and simplifying their taxes. The answer is crypto asset-backed lending, no short-term capital gains issue and the ability to keep your position. Unfortunately, few were able to achieve their goals in a user-friendly way. One company has stood out, BlockFi, and I loved my experience with them. So what is BlockFi? Based out of New York, BlockFi is a secured non-bank lender providing USD loans to cryptoasset owners — but unlike traditional banking, BlockFi issues loan collateral in Bitcoin and Ether. BlockFi holds clients’ assets with a registered custodian and issues loans in USD to their bank accounts. Currently fully operating and lending in 45 U.S states.
If you’re wondering why I love BlockFi, it’s actually quite simple: first, it works, and second, it’s easy to use. That combination goes a long, long way in technology and BlockFi continues to execute this elegantly in the crypto space.
Getting up and running with the blockchain is inherently difficult. That’s a fact of the current state of technology, despite the immense capabilities and possibilities built into the blockchain. As someone who’s been in the industry for years, I’m always looking for new and innovative ways to make this process smoother and easier — because the more the skids are greased for blockchain configuration, the closer we get to so many possibilities by creative minds out there.
One of the projects that give me a lot of hope is Blockdaemon. Simply put, Blockdaemon simplifies setting up a blockchain by providing node deployment tools. Blockdaemon’s tool works with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Stellar nodes, giving users flexibility in the platform they ultimately choose. Through Blockdaemon’s infrastructure, most of the setup and configuration work is done for you — and in fact, they tout that you can deploy a node with three clicks (it’s a tad bit more than that, but it’s definitely easy). Best of all, new users can test it out for free, making it accessible to nearly anyone who’s considering the blockchain to power their idea.
What’s Ahead For 2019?
So was 2018 the year of the blockchain? If you’re looking at a momentum and money, the answer is yes. By September 2018, blockchain and ICO investors already exceeded 2017 totals, meaning that things are gathering steam towards an even brighter 2019. This sampling of successful 2018 innovations above shows the expanding scope of blockchain companies — they’re not just doing things powered by the blockchain, they’re actively making the blockchain more accessible. This combination should only grow in 2019, and that means the blockchain’s momentum truly is at full speed ahead.
By: Tiana Laurence, Investor, Founder & Author of Blockchain For Dummies