Long reads

DLT Predictions for 2021

Mariana Gomez de la Villa

Mariana Gomez de la Villa

Principal Commercial Product Manager, ING

While a lot of people might have discerning perceptions on the future of blockchain as a whole, there’s no doubt it keeps being a subject that is not indifferent to anyone. We still have the anarchists and the haters as we have the believers and supporters, so even tough the ecosystem has evolved and together with it, the technology; some things have not changed in the course of the past 13 years.

Being a part of the ecosystem since 2014 (and you may call us late bloomers), there are significant milestones reached as there are failed expectations. Making predictions a bout the future of something has always been a fun game to play and I think this year in particular is even more interesting due to the current environment the technology is subject to.

One thing I do dare to say is 'there’s no turning back' who is in and have tasted the honey of the vibrant atmosphere this technology offers won’t be able to work in an environment lacking collaboration, empowerment and problem resolution, which in my view have been the learnings this technology has left everyone that has stepped into it.

As I do not aim to know it all and there are several aspects shaping the evolution of the technology and the ecosystem, I have asked the ING’s DLT team to #together come up with the predictions in the different areas of expertise we are currently participating upon; in a nutshell, we believe 2021 will be the year of privacy on enterprise DLT, further adoption of DeFi in retail, increasing institutional demand for crypto-assets and first releases of CBDCs will be shown, together with advancements in interoperability.

Here’s what we came up with, per blockchain stream:

Enterprise DLT

Mariana Gomez de la Villa, DLT Program Director

“This year will be a tough year for enterprise DLT, as investment in blockchain and innovation will be scarce, forcing a consolidation of major projects.”

Mattijs van den Bos, ING DLT Dev Engineer, CTO ZKP on Corda

“2021 will be the last year of grace for privacy in secondary markets on enterprise DLT, as more and more maturing enterprise DLT initiatives will discover the downsides of fully transparent transactions and rely increasingly on available privacy solutions.”

Aleksei Koren, ING DLT Dev Engineer / Cryptographer

“There will be a sudden epiphany about privacy problems on enterprise DLT, where need-to-know basis designs that look more like advanced P2P with cryptography on top than classic pubic DLT will become popularised”


Teunis Brosens, ING Lead Economist for Digital Finance and Regulation

Facebook’s Diem might be released in emerging markets this year, the Chinese CBDC (DC/EP) could be introduced tactically in Europe to be used in Alipay / WeChat and that Europe will continue retail CBDC’s (‘Digital Euro) by embarking on at least one full-scale DLT Proof-of-Concept (PoC).

Jan Lebbe, ING DLT Initiative Lead, Fnality

“A reliable privacy solution on enterprise DLT will become critical in 2021, especially if CBDCs on DLT are to find true value over the traditional centralised way of issuing currency that is used today.”

Trade Finance

Cees van Wijk, ING DLT IT Chapter Lead)

“There will be a consolidation of DLT trade finance solutions, where only the strongest survive and gain significant market share and revenue.”

Digital Assets

Herve Francois, DLT Initiative Lead, Pyctor

“Crypto-assets like Bitcoin will become mainstream for financial institutions and that some traditional banks and brokers will start offering crypto-asset services under the supervision of regulators.”

Eric Groothedde, ING Senior Innovation Compliance Officer

“More commercial banks will start offering wallet services for digital assets and the SEC will have a busy year, accepting the first-ever Bitcoin ETF.”

Martijn van Eck, DLT Initiative Lead, ValueX

“Publicly-listed US-based companies will continue adding Bitcoin as an asset to their treasury reserves with 100 companies announcing the purchase of the crypto-asset for treasury.”


Xavier Meegan, Blockchain Intern / DeFi Researcher

“Banks will begin experimenting with DeFi on permissioned DLT and a maturity of interoperable DLTs will see some permissioned assets exist on permissionless DLT and vice versa for use in DeFi protocols.”

As a conclusion, we could argue that 2020 was the year that enterprise DLT truly went into production. However, most enterprise DLT initiatives that went into production last year were siloed. Enterprise who will be successful in 2021 will be those that can consolidate siloed efforts through partnerships to enhance liquidity in their DLT platforms. Enterprise DLT needs large-scale liquidity in order for operational efficiencies to be achieved. Organisations that collaborate with competitors to encourage liquidity and interoperation will endure a win-win situation rather than a loss of competitive advantage. In order for the enterprise DLT ecosystem to mature and move past the trough of disillusionment in Gartner’s hype curve in 2021, real results need to be delivered. It is likely many enterprise DLT initiatives will fail this year, especially given the current economic climate. However, the ones that are victorious in 2021, are likely to solve well-known issues in enterprise DLT, such as privacy, interoperability, regulation and resilience of DLT business models, paving the way for the slope of enlightment of enterprise DLT in 2022.

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