Ian Simpson is Marketing and Communications Manager at Lakeside Partners, a start-up investment company in Zug, Switzerland.
The following article is an exclusive contribution to the CoinDesk 2017 edition.
Without the shadow of a doubt, last year was huge for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Whatever the future of Satoshi's spirit and all that he has given birth to, 2017 will forever hold a singular position on the chronology of events in the crypto world.
But as we approach a new year, the urge to be trapped in anything that has happened in the past 12 months could prevent us from considering what 2017 did not bring – and why.
True, it's hard not to be hypnotized by the numbers: more than 1300 cryptocurrencies, the market capitalization of more than $ 700 billion that they produced or the ICO's eye-popping raises Tezos, Filecoin, Bancor and others – oh yes, and the heartbreaking race of the bitcoin price while it climbed over $ 20,000 – and back down.
And yet, it is worth taking a step back and considering what is missing and what it might mean for the year ahead.
1. We have not seen the massive adoption of blockchain for the company
While there has been a lot of discussion about blockchain patents (Mastercard is one example) with large companies and an increase in listings at the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, 2017 has not brought a widespread embrace of crypto by established players across different industry sectors.
Some will point to concrete factors of financial and technological implementation to explain this – "How can you invest in something that is still so immature?" and "If it can not evolve, how can we depend on it?" – and certainly those can be valid points.
Education (its lack and its acquisition) also plays a role. On the one hand, many executives still do not understand how it actually works and yet they still want to sneak in the space, if only to use the hype for marketing purposes.
On the other hand, the more informed decision makers in big companies become, the more they realize how blockchain world challenges the very core of current systems and paradigms. For many, this knowledge pushes them back and refuses to "make the jump".
I also suspect that – perhaps unconsciously – the hype surrounding the financing of the ICO also served as a reactionary force, ironically, the very buzz that put bitcoin and blockchain on the lips of thousands also made one fear his disruptive force.
If the wave of symbolic sales slows in 2018 and regulatory uncertainty improves, it may change, and we can say that it must change if cryptocurrencies and the symbolic economy will remain long-term.
It may also depend on the result of the next point …
2. We have not seen a clear distinction between blockchain, tokens and cryptocurrencies
Nobody in particular is to blame for this, but the fact remains: 99.9% of people outside the crypto / blockchain technical community associate blockchain with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Period. Unfortunately, this is enough to block the adoption by many.
If anything, the huge figures from the ICO products in 2017 only made this association stronger as headlines around the world posted dollar amounts with each new chip sale .
The problem with this is that around the world, it inherently reduces crypto to "a new way to make money through fundraising and speculation." This is, and will continue to be, a major handicap for the future.
I personally applaud voices like that of William Mougayar and guests in his Token Summit series, which add more perspective to the discussion and differentiate different levels of technology and token patterns.
For the blockchain to reach its true potential, these distinctions will have to be made and explained.
3. We have not yet seen self-regulation set up
With particular focus on the SEC, FCA and Swiss FINMA, regulation has never been so far removed from the cryptographic conversation of last year.
And faced with the expected review, many self-regulatory initiatives have been formed with the Crypto Valley Association announcing a Code of Conduct and Waves establishing a foundation for ICO standards, among others.
Up to now, however, these initiatives have not produced much, as the Code of Conduct mentioned above has not yet been published.
In some ways, this may come as a surprise since it's not hard to imagine "self-regulation" as a clever tool for, on the one hand, holding the government guard dogs on the sidelines while promoting a "higher standard". which can be used for financial gain.
The coming year may, indeed, bring more visible results on this front – and it should – before scam projects multiply and influential advisers abuse their positions for artificially pump projects of little value. regulators take over in full force.
4. We do not have inter-channel operability.
Finally, in a more technical note, inter-chain operability remains (for the moment) an elusive Holy Grail.
Last year saw serious efforts to deal with it. Polkadot has attracted most of the attention (and its creator too, for different reasons) and Cosmos not far behind. They are not the only ones, however, with quieter projects like Block Collider working with unique angles on the same problem.
It may seem unreasonable to expect inter-channel connections to arrive so early, even if Blockchain and Crypto continue to make their infancy. But if there is one thing that 2017 has not given us, a gaping hole that 2018 can fill, that's it.
But what about the big hits? CoinDesk still accepts submissions for its 2017 exam. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to make your voice heard.
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