It’s hard for the BlockSparks team to believe we’ve been working together for almost a year now… But in other ways, it feels like a lot longer. Such a lot has happened, within our new business and the wider industry – a turbulent and exciting time, to be part of the cryptocurrency revolution in our own small way.
We’re just here to tell the story, and that story remained firmly lodged in the high-paced thriller genre throughout 2018, a year which lurched from the all-time-highs at the end of 2017, to a series of market corrections, the only constant has been change itself.
For many businesses, money has been lost, including teams who successfully raised large sums via initial coin offerings. Whilst some of these were outright scams who deserved exactly what they got (even though their investors certainly didn’t), we’ve seen plenty of good projects fall by the wayside too, whose only mistake was in timing. But those who are left are the survivors in a less crowded space, building the things which matter. Those who remain also tend to be those who have the capacity to actually run businesses and deliver services, as well as raising money together.
Such as infrastructure. We’ve been working with a number of exciting projects tackling everything from business services to storage to credit solutions. Many in this part of the market are are making big money, with Binance and Coinbase each generating over $1bn profit during the toughest of market conditions. Decentralised and P2P exchanges have also been coming to the fore as the market specialises and niches down. All of this is bringing more and more entrants into the crypto market, in the year that ‘what is bitcoin?’ was Google’s biggest search term. 2018 was the year that businesses started to build things that consumers needed to use and be involved in crypto, from custody solutions, wallets and derivative offerings, to lending and crossover crypto-banking products – a trend we’re looking forward to covering in the new year.
Other products consumers have responded to in 2018 include bundle/basket products, for people who want exposure to the potential of more than just bitcoin, but don’t want to make their own way through the jungle of 2000+ altcoins on the open market. LocalCoinSwap’s Cryptoshares, Abra’s Bitwise10 and Coinbase’s top 5 ‘Bundle’ are part of this wave, and CryptoZink will be offering ‘trading as a service’ soon in the new year. Some of these products offer automatic rebalancing across a portfolio of selected coins, others a proposed split at time of purchase – all of them helping to smooth the onramp for new adopters to gain maximum involvement with the market with reduced learning curve. Bitcoin Futures launched in 2017, and whilst some blame this for price capitulation in 2018 (as investors can now short it too), more sophisticated products enabling profits to be gained in a range of trading conditions are welcomed investors familiar with traditional financial markets.
It was year of regulation as well. Seeing small and nimble jurisdictions unleash legislative frameworks which work for blockchain and crypto start-ups, from Europe to the South Pacific, we’ve been watching crypto start to redraw the map of financial power. Like it or not, regulation has been badly needed in some parts of the crypto wild-west outback, and this will facilitate the traditional institutions’ ongoing investment in blockchain and crypto in 2019, as well as broader uptake and adoption everyday people who will never have any desire to ‘be their own bank’.
What else did 2018 bring us? Airdrops! We’ll see this continue into the new year for sure, as project teams do whatever it takes to get their token into public use and create desired network effects in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Forks such as the notorious bitcoin cash split in November, have created their own drops too, and we’re seeing airdrops starting to take place on non-Ethereum main nets such as EOS as well. Tokens, tokens, everywhere… get yours now! You never know which will turn out to be the ones which matter in the long term.
A final trend to reflect on is the accumulation strategy of big money. Check out the Bitcoin rich list – whilst dabblers get rekt, whales are quietly adding to their holdings, especially with prices at rock bottom. Over 600 crypto hedge funds now exist, (471% higher than in 2016), and endowment funds and family offices – less constrained by regulation than Wall Street – are following their lead into the accumulation of crypto (especially bitcoin).
At the other end of the scale, we at BlockSparks believe the long-term future lies in everyday adoption of cryptocurrencies by more and more people, who deserve a slice of the action – in a space which is far too exciting and important to be left to institutional billionaires. We created the Crypto Confidence podcast to attempt to demystify the basics, and in 2019 we’ll be focussing on more innovative content to make the fundamentals of this exciting new world accessible to everyone who wants to get in on it.
So, we’re looking forward to 2019, and everything it’s going to bring us all. The Blockchain future is bright, and we’ll be here to chronicle it.