Blockchain 2019: The year of snowballing victories?
By Christopher Attard
As Crypto Winter shows signs that it’s beginning to thaw, investment firm VanEck – which presides over $47 billion in assets under management – reminds everyone that “Bitcoin is not going away.”
In fact, the market downturn doesn’t seem to have phased the firm, which highlighted notable developments in the space in a message to investors and crypto enthusiasts.
Little victories – not home runs
In a memo to investors, VanEck’s Director for Digital Asset Strategy, Gabor Gurbacs, said that instead of expecting a big “home run” for cryptocurrencies in 2019, look for the industry to continue making inroads into a number of “singles” with incremental, but significant hits:
With bitcoin falling from $19,500 to $3,000, some of us may hope that this was indeed a fad and was safely behind us. Yet, there are solid developments from some major companies. The following is a list of recent singles, including announcements, launches, and events that collectively, can contribute to building out the digital assets markets.
Buttressing his point, Gurbac points to: Square Cash App’s bitcoin integration, states such as Ohio accepting Bitcoin for taxes, Robinhood’s BitLicense in New York, Samsung Galaxy S10’s crypto support, the growth of Bitcoin derivatives, NASDAQ’s big investments and contributions, a Swiss crypto basket ETP, and Facebook’s prospective entry into cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin has become seasoned to death sentences, with the long-running Bitcoin obituary 99Bitcoins.com having published 348 obituaries since 2010. Perhaps the 349th death sentence will be the final blow? Possibly. However, VanEck stands unmoved in the face of those who take Bitcoin doomsday scenarios seriously.
According to them, these little victories are important “singles” that have been moving the game towards a crypto win against inflation, surveillance, secrecy, control and ridiculously extortionate fees of traditional banking.
The investment firm is known for being active in precious metals, mutual funds and offering investment vehicles such as hard assets and emerging economies as a hedge against U.S. political uncertainty and economic downturn.
At the time of writing, VanEck is waiting for approval on its refiled ETF application despite the SEC’s repeated refusal to back any such application due to market manipulation – though this could arguably be said of more mature markets as well.
Big fish coming around
More recently, sceptics can look to VISA, which has now hopped on the bandwagon to hire a technical product manager for its VISA Crypto team. The new listing points to candidates that are “passionate about the intersection of payments and cryptocurrency” and are “deeply familiar with permissionless blockchain technology and have a close network of experts in the fast-moving cryptocurrency and fintech ecosystem.”
Clearly, if you can’t beat them, join them.
Finally, IBM’s recently announced Stellar-based Global Payments Network seeks to integrate payment messaging, clearing and settlement on a single unified platform. In a podcast interview with Jesse Lund, head of IBM Blockchain, he said the idea is to “streamline the ability of businesses and consumers to move money around the world in real time… We are convening a brand-new network in 72 countries that will support pay-in and pay-out end points in 48 currencies”.
Creating value and convenience
Naturally, there are various levels of respect paid towards the decentralised Bitcoin spirit in every project, but this is to be expected in an early-stage transition period where the magnitude of this technological breakthrough is not yet fully understood by the masses.
That said, 2019 is set to be the year the industry goes beyond the hype and towards real-world applications with a low-barrier to entry. At some point, the compounding effect of these little victories will mitigate the need for a massive bull-run to revive the market. Instead, people will join voluntarily because of the incremental baby steps that create both value and convenience.