January 12, 2019 marked the 10th anniversary of the very first bitcoin transaction. Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto sent 10 bitcoins to a U.S. software engineer named Hal Finney (who some believe may have been one and the same) on January 12, 2009.
A number of digital currency and blockchain industry experts have reflected on the last 10 years and on what the next decade possibly holds for blockchain technology as well as crypto-assets.
CoinReport would like to thank PR firm Wachsman for sharing with us the following expert commentary.
Brent Jaciow, Head of Blockchain Affairs at music data tracking platform Utopia Music: “Reflecting on the last ten years, by and large the greatest innovation to the world of crypto is the invention of the smart contract given it is what allows blockchain technologies to carry out many of the functions that make them such a versatile tool, such as DAO’s, autonomous actions, etc.
The real value of blockchain technologies is the ability to have an “ownerless” source of truth that all stakeholders can rely upon. The decentralization of authority combined with implicit trust in the data allows such real-world cases as fractionalizing ownership of assets, capital raising to fund innovation, and the securitization of assets which would have been previously impossible with current capital markets.
That being said, after a volatile 2018 there is no “magic bullet” which will allow the public to regain trust within the cryptocurrency space. Rather it will be the combination of increased regulation to provide enhanced safety to investors, technology advances that make it easier for the general public to use and invest in the asset class, as well as great adoption by larger institutions which will prove to be the tipping point to mass adoption.”
Jaciow said in a different comment, “Like all other “public” markets, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have seen their fair share of manias and panics. I think bitcoin’s highlight over the last decade is watching it grow from its humble beginnings as an obscure “idea” embraced by a small group of hardcore tech engineers to the massive force it is today that is so large, Fortune 500 corporations and governments alike are forced to understand and learn how to embrace the new technology.
In the short term, bitcoin and other top cryptocurrencies will likely face continued selling pressure as year end tax loss harvesting has investors selling what has lost money in order to offset potential capital gains. Into the new year, along with better design interfaces and greater ease of use, we will continue to see an ever larger acceptance and use of cryptocurrencies by the general population which will benefit the long term price appreciation of bitcoin.
Cryptocurrencies will be more widely accepted and used like fiat in future, but not necessarily with bitcoin as the main currency of choice. As the crypto space evolves and the technology improves, a front-runner in the stable coin sector will emerge and likely be used as a substitute given the reduced volatility relative to the current most liquid cryptocurrencies. This would seem to be the most natural progression as most developed economies move away from cash and further into electronic payment solutions. For example, Sweden is even seeking to move to a purely electronic system and do away with the burden of maintaining physical fiat currency.”
Nydia Zhang, Co-founder and Chairman of Social Alpha Foundation, a not-for-profit grant making platform supporting blockchain technology for social good: “Ten years on, the greatest innovation borne from Bitcoin has been the ability to revolutionize the manner in which people connect for commerce, governance, finance and industry without the need for a middleman. While this ability remains nascent, the effect will unfold as a shockwave in slow motion, transforming technology infrastructure as we know it. From cryptocurrency which has redefined how we define, quantify and exchange value, to trustless ledgers that bring databases into a realm of interoperability not possible before, Bitcoin and its technology has changed everything. Though 2018 was a crucible for crypto, it survived extinction and in 2019 will continue to grow stronger than ever; all the while, the blockchain technology below will continue quietly and powerfully powering the new internet.”
Frank Wagner, CEO and Co-founder of INVAO, a blockchain asset pool for investors based on automated trading and active portfolio management: “The world’s first bitcoin transaction marked a new epoch for the global monetary system. Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies have a myriad of uses and can solve real-world problems in many sectors, but finance has been one of the most notable industries affected. One particular innovation that stands out in the world of finance is the advent of security tokens. This development has been central to creating new and unprecedented avenues of wealth acquisition, while simultaneously attracting institutional investors to the space. Blockchain technology is being used to provide access to capital and create transparent and secure investment routes in new markets. While cryptocurrency prices have had a volatile year, most understand these fluctuations do not negate the positive impact it has had or the opportunities it has unlocked over the previous decade.”
Wagner said in a different comment, “The development of blockchain since its invention 10 years ago show how far-reaching the possibilities of this technology are. We are only just beginning to understand and harness the potential of this technology, which we believe will change how society functions, and will alter our everyday life in increasingly indispensable and sustainable ways.”
Nick Cowan, Managing Director and Founder of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange Group Limited: “The first ever bitcoin transaction, conducted ten years ago, was the genesis for two of the most dynamic innovations of a generation. The emergence of bitcoin as a method to transfer value inspired the creation of various other cryptocurrencies that now make up a busy ecosystem. With bitcoin’s rise in late 2017, a spotlight was shone on the wide range of alternative coins, as well as the underlying blockchain technology.
Cryptocurrencies were the first showcase example of blockchain technology at work, opening the door to new payment practices, while addressing many of the long-standing issues plaguing traditional finance, such as high transaction fees and settlement delays. However, the technology is now meshing with a wide range of industries to help accelerate typically protracted processes, enable higher levels of cross-sectoral efficiency, and improve all-round transparency and trust in projects.
The hype surrounding bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, peaking in late 2017, has mellowed. The focus has now shifted to sustainability and legitimate value propositions. Looking ahead, as wider society becomes more informed on the benefits of Distributed-Ledger-Technology (DLT), the bar will continue to rise for prospective blockchain projects and crypto platforms to increase adoption and build a vibrant community.”
Angel Versetti, CEO and Co-founder of Ambrosus: “The past ten years have seen exponential growth of innovation and research in the crypto and blockchain world, and, as a result, it’s still too early to say with certainty which innovation is the greatest. From my perspective, assuming that Bitcoin is day zero and today is 10 years later, Ethereum is the greatest innovation in the space. The idea of a decentralized computer, capable of executing any contract in a decentralised and censorship-free environment, has huge implications and potential use cases for a variety of social and economic purposes. While many contenders for Ethereum have arrived, no single project boasts the resilience and ecosystem strength of Ethereum. That’s why, for me at least, it’s the greatest innovation in the space. Its full potential is also far from being reached so there is still significant scope for it to grow and develop further.
Cryptocurrencies represent an entirely new asset class, which comprises a multitude of multifunctional digital assets with distinctly different benefits. Whether as an alternative means of storing value (Bitcoin), as fuel for a decentralised computer (Ethereum), as reward mechanisms for distributed storage (Ambrosus) or as a representation of real assets in digital form (DigixDAO), they remove significant amounts of friction from the global financial markets. Simultaneously, cryptocurrencies offer an opportunity to have a truly safe-haven asset class, which, while definitely not protected from manipulation, is at the very least not controlled by any one particular nation-state or entity, thereby giving them a unique position.
Firstly, I daresay there is not an ounce more trust in traditional financial institutions today as there was 10 years ago. We are on the brink of another major financial crisis and possibly a bigger geopolitical cataclysm, and thus the core value proposition of Bitcoin as a censorship-resistant and truly limited digital asset that is not subject to control is as relevant as ever. I believe that crypto and blockchain will continue to deliver on their core value and benefits, primarily because there has not been any loss of trust in blockchain and true cryptocurrencies by those members of the public who understand how this technology works.
The only disappointed people are the speculators who got into crypto at the wrong time and are now irritated by their losses. In some ways, it feels like crypto is the Caribbean in the 17th century, a market full of riches and opportunities, and that there have been a number of opportunists and outright pirates trying to take advantage. Now, these are being replaced by more organised groups that are perceived as more “legitimate”. While, on one hand, I don’t welcome the fact that many of the newest crypto and blockchain projects primarily driven by lawyers and investment bankers rather than by the cypherpunks and geeks who originated the technology; on the other, this will bring about more public participation in blockchain in the coming 12 months.”
Versetti said in a different comment, “Due to trying to take the market share away from one of the most important tools of power – money – central banks and governments all over the world tried to kill Bitcoin, albeit unsuccessfully. Having failed to kill bitcoin, they have decided to become its champions and proponents. Not only has this established Bitcoin as a unique financial phenomenon and a new asset and a social construct, but it also showed the resilience and power of the underlying technology, blockchain, spurring countless transformative innovations using distributed ledgers, ranging far beyond the financial sector, with use cases such as identity management, data ownership, decentralised autonomous organisations and the digital commons – all underpinned by the same promise of resilient technology where trust is established by all the participants jointly updating the ledger, but with no particular party being able to take control.
Despite the resilience of the blockchain, Bitcoin itself is purely a social construct, which means that its intrinsic value is only based on what the general consensus about its value is, i.e. what the global society – via marketplaces/exchanges – value the Bitcoin at. Seeing as things are right now, with institutional investors flocking in and a lot of early Bitcoin adopters having an opportunity to build their fortunes and become the elites of tomorrow, there is a fairly big chance they will push Bitcoin to become a must-have asset for any sort of portfolio or a financial institution. However, maybe not, maybe the push of Bitcoin Cash with their narrative of being the true Bitcoin and ownership of key bitcoin domains and handles of social media will make Bitcoin Cash overtake Bitcoin, or maybe – God forbid – some centralised cryptocurrencies like Ripple will become the new standard. I hope the latter does not happen though, as hopefully people will become more educated about what blockchain is and how it should work, and people will be making the choice for freedom from censorship and control.”
Fran Strajnar, CEO of Brave New Coin: “Those who have been involved in digital currency since the early days have seen the cyclical rise and fall of bitcoin. I believe that bitcoin’s supply curve will continue to follow the boom-bust cycle, but expect all-time highs following block-halving by 2020. As an asset class, bitcoin’s value has witnessed outstanding upward momentum – with the value far above now what it was in the early days following its inception.
The systematic problems that have contributed to the rise of blockchain and its mainstream adoption have summoned many bright minds to get involved in the industry, which is why I believe that blockchain will scale and is here to stay. When we least expect it, the first ‘Killer Decentralized App’ will be born – it is only a matter of time. And while nobody has a crystal ball to foresee what will happen to this innovative industry, what we do know is that we now have a fourth superclass, which has already been proven useful in transmitting value quickly, safely, and globally.”
Kee Jeffreys, Co-founder and Tech Lead of Loki: “I think the most interesting thing to look at over the last 10 years is bitcoin’s market dominance. Between bitcoin’s inception and late 2016, it consistently encapsulated almost the whole of the crypto market (about 80% to 90%). However, during the peak of the ICO craze, we saw bitcoin dominance drop to its lowest point at about 30%. I think what we are seeing now is a rebirth cycle for bitcoin. With market contraction and many ICOs failing to deliver on promises, investors are more likely to move back to the perceived stability of bitcoin.
Much of the 2017 rise in crypto prices correlated with speculative investment. Many were excited because they could see that the key issue blockchain seeks to solve is generating trust among untrusted parties. However, mainstream adoption of blockchain technology is still struggling – even the most used DApps don’t have user volumes we would expect of small, traditional applications. This is largely due to the lack of convenience for end users. If users have to sign up to an exchange, purchase BTC, exchange that BTC to ETH, and then work out how to use a smart contract in order to use a platform – they may be dissuaded by the inconvenience.
In the future, I think we are going to see a lot of applications like Brave browser, which provides an internet browser with Basic Attention Token (BAT) integration. The key here is that the users don’t need to understand cryptocurrency to use the service, but if they want to interact with additional features they can be easily accessed within the application. This type of integration can be closely modeled on a “freemium model,” where the small percentage of interested crypto users can fund the development of decentralised applications to the benefit of all users.“
Vlad Dramaliev, Head of Digital Marketing of æternity: “Bitcoin has proven that it is one of the most exciting technological experiments of our time. It established the foundations of an entire industry that is currently engaged in extensive R&D in the fields of cryptography, data security, privacy, and self-sovereignty. Perhaps most importantly, Bitcoin has presented an alternative system of global governance, based on tangible economic incentives and decentralization.
By creating a censorship-resistant alternative to money, it has reignited discussions on the nature of money and money creation. It has presented an alternative to an unsustainable global financial system built on debt and inequality. In 10 years, Bitcoin will still be the dominant cryptocurrency, the gold standard in the crypto-world. It will enjoy a much more widespread adoption, and its technological features and user-friendliness will have been greatly improved.”
Jehan Chu, Co-founder of Social Alpha Foundation: “Bitcoin is currently at a great level to enter the market as the price has been stabilizing and with institutional heavyweights like Fidelity, Nasdaq, and Starbucks getting into crypto, we can expect mainstream investment awareness in 2019. Ironically, Bitcoin volatility is near all-time lows, at around 1.5%, which is not that far off from gold.
I do think that bitcoin will be used widely as a store of value, though currently the technology isn’t developed enough to be used as a payment system. Upcoming projects like Connext, Lightning and others are coming close to solving these problems and making bitcoin useful for everyday use.”
Gabriele Giancola, Co-founder and CEO of qiibee, the Swiss loyalty token protocol which helps brands around the world run their loyalty programs on the blockchain: “These days, everyone seems to be talking about bitcoin and its future. While bitcoin has seen monumental growth in popularity since the publication of the bitcoin whitepaper in 2008, it has experienced dramatic peaks and troughs since its inception, with the cryptocurrency market as a whole rising more than 1,200% last year alone, and the cryptocurrency market cap amounting to over $230bn.
All eyes will be on the approval of a bitcoin ETF by the SEC in the new year, which would arguably be transformative for bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, since it would boost overall investor interest and provide stability to the crypto market. If the ETF was to be approved, institutional investors are likely to cash in on the new product, given that it is relatively safer than directly investing in bitcoin.
The question of custody and regulatory oversight, as well as whether there are solutions to fundamental technological issues, including scalability and processing time, will be decisive in whether bitcoin and cryptocurrencies see mainstream adoption in future, and will no doubt impact their market prices as well.”
Shiv Malik, Head of Strategy and Communications at Streamr: “Though it’s been a turbulent evolution, Bitcoin’s mark on this world is already profound. Without knowing it, Satoshi Nakamoto and the rest of the cypherpunks kick-started an entire multi-billion dollar industry which we now call blockchain. Their distributed ledger, a novel form of recording millions of transactions between individuals without the need for banks, is the most notable accounting revolution since the Venetians’ formalised double entry bookkeeping in the late 1400s.
But a number of clouds now hang over Bitcoin’s original vision — chiefly the speculation around whether it can make it as a general service for payments. If Bitcoin fundamentally stays as it is, electricity will never be cheap enough for the network to process sufficient transactions to reach any significant scale. The mission statement, “be your own bank” will probably have to be downgraded to “be your own safe deposit box.”
But Bitcoin now has many children – altcoins and digital tokens of all sorts – and they will eventually serve as the basis not just for money, and money transfer but for accessing all sorts of vital digital services in the future. The crypto revolution – open source, and decentralised – is here to stay.”
Cristian Gil, Co-founder of trading firm GSR: “The space is evolving at such a rapid pace that it is difficult to make predictions even two years out. That said, we believe that within a decade, digital assets will have become an integral part of our everyday lives. We will continue to see the proliferation of the internet of things (IoT), and the ability to transfer value seamlessly across various mediums. Whether bitcoin itself is used in the pipes for these systems or not, when history books are written about this period of time, bitcoin will have earned the first page mention.”
Daniel Peled, President of Orbs: “It’s impossible to look at the progress of the entire blockchain industry without recognizing the foundational role that bitcoin played. Every business use case, every major step forward on the infrastructure front is ultimately a credit to the initial starting point of bitcoin. Bitcoin proved that there is an application for blockchain and that it has real and tangible value. Because of this central role, it’s difficult to to see any reality where the technology continues to progress and expand in importance while bitcoin doesn’t enjoy the benefits of this rise. Even though the industry has expanded far beyond producing a digital currency, bitcoin was still the use case that established the legitimacy and potential of the entire blockchain enterprise.”
Eiland Glover, CEO and Co-founder of Kowala: “Ten years later we’re still talking about Bitcoin and its impact. Why? Because it’s one of – if not the most – exciting developments in financial technology in the last 20 years. However, even though the Bitcoin network is still an incredible and disruptive way to remove middlemen from transactions in the global financial system, its limitations have certainly become more apparent with age. Its price volatility, coined with its slow transaction speed, means that it is now mostly referred to less as a currency used as a payment method and more as a store of value, a sort of digital gold.
The frenetic value of bitcoin has led to the rapid development of “stablecoins” – cryptocurrencies built to retain a stable value. Though some have attempted to solve the Bitcoin network’s current volatility problems via features that increase centralization, like maintaining certain prices by working with banks, others continue to adhere to Satoshi’s ideological focus on decentralization, and we’re already seeing a revival of Bitcoin-centric principles in the stablecoin space. Over the next ten years, I predict that bitcoin as a currency will continue to thrive, and will also bring with it those stablecoin projects that adhere to its similar asset-less, decentralized, miner-friendly principles.”
Ken Lang, CTO of Cosimo Ventures and early ndau collective member: “On the tenth anniversary of bitcoin, we reflect on how far the space has come. Bitcoin was a groundbreaking innovation, and it’s caused us to learn lessons about how, why, and in what contexts people use digital currencies as a unit of account, a means of exchange, and a store of value. The rise in popularity of bitcoin – and consequently, other tokens – has also taught us about the shortcomings of particular digital currencies for particular purposes. It’s led to trends that try to solve for the governance and volatility problems with bitcoin and ethereum – e.g. stablecoins – that show that the industry is maturing and attempting to solve its own problems over time.
After ten years of rapid development and adoption, we believe that the next step for this industry will be to interrogate what the best solutions to these shortcomings will be, and that means designing digital currencies that incorporate the best elements of bitcoin along with innovative economic ideas that can help protect against the excessive volatility that puts investors at risk, and casts the industry in a negative light.”
Marshall Hayer, CEO of Metal: “I have been involved in crypto for nine years now, when I first discovered Bitcoin my curiosity was piqued, I didn’t see how people could transact with it. Over the past 10 years, the cryptocurrency ecosystem has seen many ups and downs (both in price and in industry maturation), and while I don’t see that stabilizing by the end of this year, I truly believe that this technology is the way of the economic future.
The introduction of Stablecoins are a huge innovation and will play a critical role in blockchain, especially now. However, one task that has yet to be fully accomplished is ensuring the general public is sufficiently educated on how to utilize this technology — which is desperately needed. We have spent the last 10 years improving upon the existing software, and we need to dedicate the next 10 years educating the world how to use it.
I believe in the vision for a decentralized web, and I am very excited to be a part of this ecosystem, bringing crypto to the mainstream. Looking to the next decade, I believe we will be living in a crypto-integrated, world — and I am very humbled to be a part of the vision.”
Max Kordek, Lisk Co-Founder and Lightcurve CEO: “The publishing of the Bitcoin white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto a decade ago kickstarted a new era of technological innovation and global disruption that is continuing to this day. Through community consensus, Bitcoin’s protocol has evolved through the years and has remained the standard for the cryptocurrency market and Bitcoin purists.
However, the whitepaper is also responsible for the emergence of the underlying blockchain technology. Back then, the technology was simply a concept, a potential vehicle for technological innovation and inspiration. Ten years later, we have a robust global community forging the path ahead, carrying the technology forward.
Blockchain industry has propelled Satoshi’s initial vision to new heights. It has been responsible for so many landmark technological developments that expand on the initial protocol, catching the attention of elite educational institutions, financial institutions, and government bodies. It has fuelled debate among leading economists and inspired the creation of an EU-wide partnership.
Reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the Bitcoin white paper, and the subsequent blockchain movement, we can see that the foundations have been laid for a sustained phase of technological development. Right now the technology is maturing, but the next ten years will reveal the real fruits of the wider blockchain community’s labour.
Satoshi Nakamoto has inspired hundreds of dedicated teams around the world to build on his vision for a future powered by blockchain, a future in which individuals are empowered to bring real change to the world.”
Patrick Mrozowski, Founder of Crumbs: “10 years ago, Satoshi brought forth an idea that completely changed the world as we know it. I fully believe in a decentralized future, and am thrilled to be someone so entwined in the space. We are at the edge of adopting a fully decentralized ecosystem, and now is the time to bring the general public into the fray. Perhaps the best thing about cryptocurrency is the control it gives to individuals over their personal finances. No longer do we have to depend on (or trust) big banks who don’t always put individual needs above their own. The true beauty of crypto lies in its ability to give power back to individuals who have been habitually neglected by traditional financial institutions — no matter demographic, socioeconomic status, or credit history, you have the ability to participate in the economic future. The next 10 years will bring more decentralization, better technology, but most importantly — financial power to the people.”
Image credit – Sirius (CC BY 3.0)