If you have ever researched bitcoin or blockchain, chances are you found yourself on CoinDesk’s homepage. Since 2013, CoinDesk has been the leader in blockchain news.
CoinDesk’s Director of Research Nolan Bauerle first became interested in cryptocurrencies while researching money laundering for the Canadian Senate. At a recent brunchwork at LMHQ, he stressed that it’s critical to pay attention to cryptocurrencies and blockchain today because the nascent technologies will impact how we work and live, much like the Internet in the 90s.
Baurle shared three key trends and predictions around the future of cryptocurrency and blockchain.
1. Cryptocurrency is now viewed as property.
Cryptocurrency faces a mountain of challenges from governments and corporates. Recently, China announced that it will ban ICO investments and India has banned bitcoin as a form of payment.
On the corporate level, Facebook is blocking ads for bitcoin and ICOs in an attempt to curb fraud and deception. Financial companies like MasterCard and Visa have reclassified bitcoin transactions as “cash advances,” rather than purchases and are applying higher fees to them as a result.
Despite these setbacks, Bauerle noted that cryptocurrency crossed a major threshold in 2017. Before last year, digital assets were seen as ephemeral.
“People now see cryptocurrencies, something digital, as unique, uncopyable and unable to be counterfeited, and therefore, physical property.”
Baurle noted that, at least in the US, cryptocurrency could fall back on constitutional protections either as a form of property or free speech.
2. Human capital determines the future of crypto.
Baurle is confident that cryptocurrency will continue to advance in the next decade. He is most optimistic about the future because of the talent that’s working in the industry.
“Great minds have been attracted to the cryptocurrency industry. The enthusiasm, intelligence and human capital is there to make it work.”
Decentralization, putting technology in the hands of more individuals, will ultimately drive cryptocurrency innovation and accessibility. By 2020, there will be “a redeployment and a recalibration of cryptocurrencies,” creating use cases that haven’t been thought of yet.
3. Cryptographic technology has enormous potential.
Cryptographic technology powers everything from online banking to digital signatures. In simple terms, cryptographic technology encrypts and decrypts messages (or in bitcoin’s case, currency) so only the intended recipient can access it.
One of the earliest examples of cryptography is “The Enigma Code,” cracked by Alan Turing and used by German forces in World War II to relay encrypted messages.
“Bitcoin is the widest deployment of cryptographic technology in the history of the world,” Baurle said.
Bitcoin uses public-key cryptography, which is more sophisticated than just encrypting messages. Each individual with a cryptocurrency wallet has a private key that proves their identity and a corresponding public key. It’s a level of cybersecurity that didn’t exist before, and it’s in the hands of individuals to use.
Even if bitcoin doesn’t succeed as a currency, the long bet is in the cryptographic technology that powers it. He added, “What we are saying now is that cryptographic keys will become currency.”