5 Things That’ll Make You Excited for Blockchain in 2019
Blockchain: The Future of Connectivity
As 2017 ended with the Bitcoin crash, it’s hard to believe there were many in the industry looking forward to 2018. The bear market was settling in, and investors were fleeing. However, 2018 has been a critical year for blockchain technologies. It’s the year that development took a deeper dive, as the true-believers dug their heels into the technology to prove its omnipotence. If any of the grumblings from some of the blockchain Twitterati are to be believed, 2019 is going to be a pivotal year in blockchain technology development.
1. Dude, Where IS My Car - Proof of Location
The current technological solution to determining location is GPS. However, it has many flaws, with the main one being that it can be hacked or falsified. Imagine if you could actually trust that FedEx arrived at your apartment, and not rely on a paper note that says they arrived. Luckily, a decentralized blockchain can help solve this and bring the next improvement to verifying location. Several blockchain startups are addressing this latest problem with blockchain, with big announcements expected early in 2019. FOAM is a company who aims to parallel coin mining with location mining and reward users via coins for verifying timestamps. Another company called Platin, which is designing a network of nodes that will allow location to be determined through activity that can be recorded and then shared through any modern smart device - basically that technology in Batman where he finds the Joker through cell phones.
2. Snarky zkSNARKS
No, zkSNARKS is not the name of the bioengineered shark species from Sharknado. Simply put, zkSNARKS are a form of cryptography that compresses computations into small, verifiable pieces of data - think those wax seal on letters from the 18th century. With this in mind, the possibilities are endless if we can further crunch pieces of information into smaller pieces, and make them more trustworthy, more secure, and more private.
Let’s look at the Facebook data scandal. If every post you reviewed had a zkSNARK built into it, you could trust the post you were reading was real, and not worried if some troll in another country is just trying to confuse you into believing something that is fake. This is something we know we can’t wait to hear more about in the coming year.
3. Decentralizing Custody
This year saw many breakthroughs in the use of SNARKs, and next year promises to be an even bigger year. One practical use of SNARKs would be to confirm custody of transactions, a problem that plagues the current financial institutions. Currently, banks have to physically transfer capital from location to location, with armored trucks. SNARKs would do away with this anachronistic way of transferring assets in the digital economy.
Zcash is one company that shouldn’t disappoint in 2019. Their “Zero Cash Protocol” allows for users to send each other money, without any of it being disclosed to outside viewers, allowing for increased privacy. Help us Zcash, you’re our only hope.
4. Tokenization of real estate
When we try to explain to non-crypto folk how much potential there is in revolutionizing the entire global economy, we often get eye-rolls and confused faces. One comment we've heard over and over again about blockchain is, “But you can’t digitize land." Ahh, but you can!
This may be one of the hail mary passes that saves the crypto world - tokenizing security assets like real estate, and private equity. There are hundreds of billions of dollars wrapped up in real estate, arguably the world’s oldest asset class, which hasn’t seen any innovation since the 1960s. Tokenizing the real estate industry would open up property ownership to millions of people globally. Rather than having to dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars for an entire plot of land, the land value could be split into token pieces so that multiple parties can own a portion of the land.
5. Addressing the Environmental Elephant in the Room
Blockchain technologies have promised to revolutionize the entire global economy. But environmental concerns seem to have been an afterthought for much of the last nine years. It’s estimated that the annual global emissions of blockchain servers equate to the annual emissions of 2.36 million cars. This may not seem like a lot of cars, but if you rank the global emissions of blockchain transactions, it would rank as 60th in global carbon emissions. Coin mining and blockchain interactions are huge energy hogs.
With blockchain servers and cryptocoin mining only set to increase from today’s volume, it’s imperative that this problem is addressed in 2019. There are numerous startups that aim to help the problem. There is a new coin called Ecocoin, which rewards users for sustainable actions (planting trees, recycling, beach clean ups, etc.). Ethereum has also proposed switching to Proof of Stake (PoS) to verify the validity of coin transactions - this requires significantly less energy than Proof of Work (PoW), which Bitcoin runs on.
Make Blockchain Great Again
While 2018 didn’t start off great for most of us, 2019 looks like a promising year. As with most markets - except Segways - there are ups and downs. A technology that promises to change our very existence cannot be shunted to the side because of a bad year. With these innovations on the cusp of being addressed or solved, 2019 will certainly be another newsworthy year for blockchain.