At this year’s London Blockchain Week, the event opened with a summary of how the perception of bitcoin, and its underlying technology blockchain, has changed over the past five years.
Back in 2014, the likes of Barclays and IBM were not able to take a public position on the technology in fear of being thought of as siding with the dark web and bitcoin. Since then, blockchain experimentation has reached epic proportions, but questions remain about scalability and practical implementation.
Dr Jane Thomason, CEO of Blockchain Quantum Impact, said in her opening speech that in the last year, governments and international organisations are taking blockchain a lot more seriously.
She provided examples of the World Bank launching blockchain bonds and the UK Government establishing its Crypto Task Force. Alongside this, smaller states such as Bermuda, Mauritius, Malta, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man are pivoting faster and are taking advantage of bomming interset in the technology.
But while interest in blockchain has gone off the scale, its initial harbinger, bitcoin, has had a rough year.
During the first panel session of the day, Stefan Kovach, chief commercial officer of Funfair, the decentralised casino platform which launched in September last year, highlighted that 2018 was definitely “a rollercoaster year (for bitcoin) which flew by”.
Kovach went on to say that the events of the end of 2017 was “clearly a bubble” because of its “disruptive potential and difficulty in valuing.” He also said that there were “parallels with the dot com boom, but also differences because there was a different investor base.
“This was of far greater interest for the retail space and the individual consumer because there was a proliferation of information delivered through social media and FOMO - fear of missing out. Lack of regulation has not helped the situation and underneath all the headlines, core technology has continued to move forward.
“There has been significant investment in terms of brainpower and technology - on the corporate side, in supply chains, on payment rails but also on the startup side, and those companies who have delivered have pioneered in the space and are looking to gain greater traction.”
Andrew Adcock, chief marketing officer for Crowd for Angels, added that “there is a gulf between knowledge and expectations. Instead of converting crypto to fear and not delivering ambitious goals, we need to step back and see where we can move forward.”
Adcock then said that stablecoins, or STOs, will be a keyword for 2019 and Alex Mashinsky, CEO and founder of Celsius agreed with this sentiment. However, while Mashinsky framed utilities, security tokens and stablecoins as the “three horsemen of the apocalypse”, he said that he is a “big believer in stablecoins”.