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The Past & Future of Blockchain: Where we’re going and why

Reading Time: 8 minutes What follows is a brief summary of where the blockchain industry has come from over the past 10 years, where (I think) it’s headed over the next 10 years — and a lens to help understand why. It’s lighter on the deep-history and heavier on the more recent and forward-looking perspective. Where we’ve come from […]

The post The Past & Future of Blockchain: Where we’re going and why appeared first on BlockchainCapital.

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Reading Time: 8 minutes

What follows is a brief summary of where the blockchain industry has come from over the past 10 years, where (I think) it’s headed over the next 10 years — and a lens to help understand why. It’s lighter on the deep-history and heavier on the more recent and forward-looking perspective.

Where we’ve come from

Bitcoin Emerges (Jan ‘09)

Bitcoin launches in Jan 2009. Initially, awareness is limited to a small handful of people. Over the next 3 years, Bitcoin receives an increasing amount of media attention — but still very minor relative to what it receives today. 99% of people that hear of Bitcoin dismiss it — and not unjustly.

After all, in its infancy, Bitcoin is still a crazy, far-out idea with implications that are difficult to appreciate. Even most people cognizant of Bitcoin’s potential implications are skeptical — after all, there have been many prior attempts at creating digital, non-sovereign money.

Given the limited track records and limited economic value at stake, it’s easy (and not unreasonable) to dismiss Bitcoin at this point.

Bitcoin hits parity with the USD (Feb ’11) then rallies to $100 (Mar ’13), then $1K (Dec ’13)

The rapid price appreciation quickly shifted the narrative from ‘something that won’t work’ to a comparison to ‘tulips’. Suddenly, pundits were universally ‘reminded’ of an event in the Netherlands that happened 300 years before any of them were alive.

At this point, understanding and appreciation of Bitcoin’s decentralization and resiliency was severely lacking — most pundits simply stated that Bitcoin would clearly be “shut down”. Wrong.

Alongside the rise of Bitcoin was the rise of infamous darknet marketplace ‘The Silk Road’ which lent itself well to a new narrative that “Bitcoin will only be used by criminals”. Wrong again.

Bitcoin “crashes” from $1k to $200, “blockchain not bitcoin” emerges(2014–2016)

Bitcoin skeptics feel vindicated by the price decline: “See, tulips, I told you”, “now that Silk Road is gone, nobody will use Bitcoin”. Wrong again.

Importantly, this led to a major shift in the industry’s narrative to “blockchain not bitcoin”. The idea was to harness the power of the technology without dealing with the digital assets built atop these networks.

Again, not an unreasonable idea for a 101-level understanding — which, admittedly, is nearly everyone at this point in time, even industry insiders. Powerful new technology can be difficult to understand.

This led to a race to ‘blockchain’ all the industries from healthcare to energy.

Bitcoin re-emerges & broader “crypto” steps into limelight (2017)

After 2–3 years of ‘blockchain not bitcoin’ and hundreds of pilots and ‘PoCs’ (Proofs of Concept), ‘blockchain not bitcoin’ implementations failed to bear fruit.

There’s myriad reasons why these efforts failed to generate significant value but, most importantly, three main reasons:

1. Open networks are more powerful than closed networks — see intranets vs the internet

2. The digital assets native to these chains are the critical component that makes these chains functional and useful

3. ‘Private blockchains’ are really a re-hash of database architectures that existed long before Bitcoin — nothing new here

Meanwhile, Bitcoin re-emerges — really, it never went away — but it storms back into public awareness with more users, more transactions, better security, and more supporting infrastructure than ever.

The broader market and industry begins to acknowledge and accept that open networks beat closed networks over time — that public blockchains like Bitcoin that allow anyone to participate and anyone to build atop are the root and core of the blockchain opportunity. People begin to realize and accept that Bitcoin and “crypto” isn’t going away.

This led to a mainstream rush to find and launch a ‘better Bitcoin’. Surely if Bitcoin was the first iteration, we can do much better, right? Again, not an unreasonable idea.

Around this time and in the years following, there was a rush to create new public blockchains that made tradeoffs to optimize for one (or more) particular feature(s). In this period, we saw the launch of chains that optimized for various features such as speed / throughput, privacy, and expressiveness.

Adding fuel to the fire, many of these experiments were funded via ICO which exacerbated the interest in launching experimental chains with different tradeoffs and optimizations. While there were many well-intentioned efforts and a few that had genuinely interesting technical optimizations, most were ill-advised experiments with inferior tradeoffs relative to what already existed in the wild — and because this industry’s complexity demands specialization, it was difficult for most outsiders to separate the wheat from the chaff.

These were all experiments being launched and tested in the wild in an effort to see whether their optimizations would be sufficient to drive traction and, ultimately, surpass Bitcoin in terms of adoption and utility. Each of these chains optimized on one particular front at the expense of another — there is no free lunch here.

New chain tradeoffs / optimizations fail to sufficiently differentiate (2017–2019)

The launch of new chains with different tradeoffs and optimizations marked a battle to become the standard — the base blockchain for the future of programmable money. Too often, industry insiders and outsiders alike focused exclusively on the technical tradeoffs as the leading indicator of potential to be the foundation of programmable money.

Of course, this has proved to be an excessively narrow scope of evaluation — as history has proven repeatedly, standards are rarely determined by “best-tech”.

As it turns out and the market has subsequently validated, Bitcoin was the ‘0 to 1’ moment — the step-function leap in progress. Some newer chains offer minor improvements (going from ‘1 to 1.1’) but most really just make inferior tradeoffs relative to what Bitcoin offers (going from ‘1 to 0.5’).

Overall, in evaluating the probability of any of these chains or coins surpassing Bitcoin two thresholds must be met:

1. ‘Does your set of tradeoffs actually present an improvement over Bitcoin?’ The vast majority — if not all — don’t pass this first test.

2. “Is your ‘improvement’ sufficient to overcome Bitcoin’s network effects, brand, distribution, security and first-mover advantages?” Despite myriad optimization experiments, no chain has successfully offered a sufficiently compelling advantage to overcome Bitcoin’s established (and rapidly expanding) network effects, brand, distribution and security.

As a result, most of these new chains — many of which feature a shiny new “breakthrough” consensus algorithm — are the equivalent of Chinese ghost cities: Seemingly beautiful designs and construction that lack organic demand.

Where we’re going

From lateral competition to vertical construction

While the prior period marked a lateral battle to become the foundation underpinning the future of programmable money, the market will continue to coalesce around 1 (or, at most, a couple) winning protocol(s).

Overall, even inside industry participants drastically over-weighted the probability that a new chain would surpass Bitcoin.

In reality, it’s not an even race: Bitcoin has a massively disproportionate probability of taking the lion’s share of the market over the next 10 years. Nobody cares about the 2nd best email protocol after SMTP.

This is a winner takes most market and Bitcoin is the far and away leader — by any metric.

Why? Bitcoin has more users, more value at stake, more awareness, more onramps, the best supporting infrastructure and, arguably, the most prudent set of ‘tradeoffs’ in the public blockchain landscape (one that emphasizes security, long-term scalability, and perfectly predictable monetary policy).

To make matters even more challenging for competing chains, securities regulators in the US and elsewhere have made it clear that fundraising and launching a new chain/coin is a legally dubious proposition — giving Bitcoin somewhat of a (unnecessary) regulatory moat.

Bitcoin’s dominant position is reflected in the sampling of charts below — there’s many more that could be added that effectively all tell the same story. In a winner takes most market with first-mover advantages and network effects, it’s objectively difficult and far-fetched to imagine any of the competing chains surpassing Bitcoin at this point.

Data as of 5/22/19 — Source: OnChainFX
Source: @ceterispar1bus (twitter) Data: OnChainFX & CoinMetrics

In short, Bitcoin has already come a long way from its humble beginnings: Only six years ago, few people had even heard of Bitcoin —and even those who had largely regarded the fledgling digital asset as a“tulip phenomenon”.

In contrast, as of Spring 2019, 89% of the American population has at least heard of Bitcoin and the younger generations are diving in head-first: Among those aged 18–34, 60% are familiar with Bitcoin, 59% see Bitcoin as ‘a positive innovation in financial technology’, 48% think it’s ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely that ‘most people will be using Bitcoin in the next 10 years’,and 42% say they’re ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to buy Bitcoin in the next 5 years. (source: https://medium.com/blockchain-capital-blog/bitcoin-is-a-demographic-mega-trend-data-analysis-160d2f7731e5)

So where do we go from here?

From here, the building begins in earnest.

That’s not to denigrate the engineering efforts behind all of the new chains that have launched but to emphasize that this next phase of building will produce the layers, protocols, applications and services that will actually be used over the next decade — in contrast to the vast majority of chains which don’t see any meaningful economic traction (“ghost cities”).

Development and building activity will shift from launching insufficiently differentiated new chains to improving and building “up the stack” of the winning protocols.

In many ways, this phase is already well under-way: the Lightning network is a 2nd-layer/protocol built atop the Bitcoin network that facilitates fast, cheap, peer-to-peer Bitcoin transactions. Similarly, there’s several dozen (if not hundreds) of companies and developers that have built infrastructure, applications and services for Bitcoin.

Source: https://medium.com/blockchain-capital-blog/lightning-is-only-the-beginning-the-emerging-bitcoin-stack-fb6d4aefb664

As this vertical construction plays out we will continue to see more supporting infrastructure emerge as well as a lush and diverse ecosystem of applications and services emerge that facilitate a wide range of functionality for Bitcoin as programmable money. This industry began with a financial asset (Bitcoin) and financial infrastructure (the Bitcoin blockchain) and in the years ahead will continue to find the most utility in the realm of (non-sovereign) programmable money.

Importantly, this transition will take years to play out: We’re still in the onboarding phase of Bitcoin — which is why exchanges have been the most profitable crypto companies to-date, much like how ISPs were the most profitable internet companies in its early days.

Of course, these phases aren’t strictly sequential: While we’re only in the first or second-inning of the onboarding phase, the Bitcoin stack and the applications and services that it supports will emerge concurrently and accelerate the onboarding phase.

Bitcoin has and will continue to undergo many ‘phase transitions’ in the years ahead. Namely, Bitcoin will continue to transition from a volatile and speculative commodity — which is how it is (not unjustly) viewed today — to broader recognition as the empowering foundation of programmable money.

A new dynamic at play

There’s an important dynamic at play as the Bitcoin stack emerges: Changes to the base-layer are intentionally slow*, deliberate and careful — there’s no ‘playful tinkering’ when there’s $100B+ of value at stake. As such, changes to the Bitcoin protocol itself require network-wide consensus from (nearly) all key economic stakeholders.

In contrast, building up the Bitcoin stack has a different dynamic: developers can innovate and iterate quickly because these are opt-in protocols, layers, applications and services that don’t put the underlying network at risk and don’t require network-wide consensus. For example, the lightning network could suffer a catastrophic failure and the Bitcoin network would continue functioning as intended.

By design, Bitcoin itself is difficult to change but anyone can freely build and innovate atop the network. So while its intentionally challenging and tedious to make changes to the Bitcoin protocol itself, the pace and range of innovation up the stack will be considerably faster and more expansive.

The rough analogy here is that making changes to a jet engine mid-flight necessitates extreme caution — but there’s little risk in designing a new in-flight entertainment system. Indeed, once a base-level of flight safety is assured, an improved in-flight experience that’s more comfortable with better entertainment and fresh food increases the appeal of flying.

Similarly, as people get more comfortable with Bitcoin itself, augmented functionality up the stack will drive broader adoption.

Ultimately, as Bitcoin charges ahead, it offers fertile ground for vertical growth. As industry venture investors, we look forward to the next decade of investing in the infrastructure, applications and services that enable people to unlock the power of natively digital programmable money.


Special thanks to Derek Hsue and Aleks Larsen for reviewing and offering suggestions — h/t to Brad Stephens for the ghost city analogy 🙂

*“slow” here is relative to the pace of innovation that many have become accustomed to in software. In reality, given the stakes, Bitcoin’s development has been far from slow

Source: https://blockchain.capital/the-past-future-of-blockchain-where-were-going-and-why/

Blockchain

Robinhood Testing New Cryptocurrency Wallet as Demand Rises

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The millennial-focused trading portal is edging closer to launching a long-awaited app that will enable its growing user-base to send and receive cryptocurrencies.

A beta version of Robinhood’s iPhone app showed the company’s latest upgrades on the new digital asset features, according to Bloomberg.

There is a hidden image showing a waiting list for users eager to get their hands on the app and code referring to crypto transfers, it added.

Delving Deeper into Crypto

Robinhood users can already buy and sell cryptocurrencies on the platform but they need to convert them to and from USD. With a native app, users will be able to send crypto assets to each other directly and set up two-factor authentication for additional security.

Robinhood Chief Executive Officer Vlad Tenev stated that adding crypto wallets is a priority for the company’s developers and they are actively working on such.


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“The ability to deposit and withdraw cryptocurrencies is tricky to do with scale, and we want to make sure it’s done correctly and properly.”

He did not specify a launch date, but the beta app leak suggests it is not too far away. Users of the new functions will need to activate crypto sending and receiving and the registration page will require an identity check, the report added.

On Sept. 11, CryptoPotato reported that Robinhood had launched incentives to promote longer-term cryptocurrency investing. The zero-fee recurring purchase feature enables users to schedule digital asset purchases for regular intervals with buys as low as a dollar.

This will encourage customers to build their cryptocurrency portfolios over time and “become a whole coiner,” stated Robinhood.

Robinhood Users Hungry For Crypto

Cryptocurrency trading has been one of the biggest drivers of revenue for Robinhood this year. Dogecoin has been the crown jewel, according to the company. It reported that 62% of its $233 million in second-quarter crypto income came from DOGE trading.

It added that more than half of all transaction-based revenue on the platform came from digital asset trading. The firm did warn that Q3 would not be as prosperous due to “seasonal headwinds and lower trading activity across the industry.”

Robinhood share prices have already fallen 43% since their all-time high of a little over $70 in early August. They are currently trading down 1.68% since Monday’s open at $40.70 according to Yahoo! Finance.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/robinhood-testing-new-cryptocurrency-wallet-as-demand-rises/

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Snoop Dogg Reveals His Connection With Twitter Account on NFTs

Snoop Dogg Twitter

Rate this post American rapper Snoop Dogg tweeted on Monday that he’s the owner of a Twitter account that talks about nonfungible tokens (NFTs). The account, named @CozomoMedici, shares “insights and tales from the wild world of NFTs” and has 27.7K followers at the moment. Snoop Dog Claims to Be Popular NFT Advocate on Twitter Snoop Dogg left the crypto community stunned this week after he revealed himself as the owner of a Twitter account dedicated to NFTs.  The account Cozomo de’ Medici, named after an Italian banker, is only a month old. However, it has already garnered attention from industry watchers and even a mention from crypto-focused news outlet The Block.   According to The Verge, the person behind the Medici account had been creating hype around their real identity for “at least a few days” and even conducted a poll for their followers to take a guess. The poll featured Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Matt Bellamy, the lead singer of the rock band Muse. Snoop, however, was not mentioned in the poll. On September 20, @CozomoMedici tweeted that they were about to reveal their identity from their account. Shortly after, Snoop Dogg tweeted “I am @CozomoMedici.”   Interestingly, after making this revelation, the Medici account bought two weed-themed collectibles from an artist named NyanDogg, The Verge reported. Additionally, Snoop’s alleged OpenSea account has been sent  “a cloud of blunt and Snoop-themed NFTs” following the reveal. Is Medici Account an Elaborate Prank? The Medici account could likely turn out to be an elaborate prank, one that Snoop might have engineered himself or just participated in. Many reactions to Medici’s reveal have also expressed skepticism about Snoop’s involvement. “I have a hard time accepting that this account is Snoop Dogg. Like seriously Snoop Dogg muted his live stream for a week (?) by accident. And he is that deep into NFTs out here owning crypto punks… Owning Eth using OpenSea. Would love that to be true but I can’t believe it,” Twitter user @Brandolf485 wrote in the comments. Nonetheless, the crypto community will have to continue looking for concrete proof till Snoop’s involvement with the account is confirmed. 

The post Snoop Dogg Reveals His Connection With Twitter Account on NFTs appeared first on Cryptoknowmics-Crypto News and Media Platform.

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American rapper Snoop Dogg tweeted on Monday that he’s the owner of a Twitter account that talks about nonfungible tokens (NFTs). The account, named @CozomoMedici, shares “insights and tales from the wild world of NFTs” and has 27.7K followers at the moment.

Snoop Dog Claims to Be Popular NFT Advocate on Twitter

Snoop Dogg left the crypto community stunned this week after he revealed himself as the owner of a Twitter account dedicated to NFTs. 

The account Cozomo de’ Medici, named after an Italian banker, is only a month old. However, it has already garnered attention from industry watchers and even a mention from crypto-focused news outlet The Block.  

According to The Verge, the person behind the Medici account had been creating hype around their real identity for “at least a few days” and even conducted a poll for their followers to take a guess. The poll featured Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Matt Bellamy, the lead singer of the rock band Muse. Snoop, however, was not mentioned in the poll.

On September 20, @CozomoMedici tweeted that they were about to reveal their identity from their account. Shortly after, Snoop Dogg tweeted “I am @CozomoMedici.”

Interestingly, after making this revelation, the Medici account bought two weed-themed collectibles from an artist named NyanDogg, The Verge reported. Additionally, Snoop’s alleged OpenSea account has been sent  “a cloud of blunt and Snoop-themed NFTs” following the reveal.

Is Medici Account an Elaborate Prank?

The Medici account could likely turn out to be an elaborate prank, one that Snoop might have engineered himself or just participated in. Many reactions to Medici’s reveal have also expressed skepticism about Snoop’s involvement.

“I have a hard time accepting that this account is Snoop Dogg. Like seriously Snoop Dogg muted his live stream for a week (?) by accident. And he is that deep into NFTs out here owning crypto punks… Owning Eth using OpenSea. Would love that to be true but I can’t believe it,” Twitter user @Brandolf485 wrote in the comments.

Nonetheless, the crypto community will have to continue looking for concrete proof till Snoop’s involvement with the account is confirmed. 

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Source: https://www.cryptoknowmics.com/news/snoop-dogg-reveals-his-connection-with-twitter-account-on-nfts/

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TA: Ethereum Breaking This Confluence Resistance Could Spark a Recovery

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Ethereum started a major decline below the $3,200 support zone against the US Dollar. ETH price traded as low as $2,807 and it is now attempting a recovery wave.

  • Ethereum started a fresh decline below the $3,300 and $3,200 support levels.
  • The price is now trading below $3,200 and the 100 hourly simple moving average.
  • There is a key bearish trend line forming with resistance near $3,020 on the hourly chart of ETH/USD (data feed via Kraken).
  • The pair could a steady recovery wave if there is a close above $3,050 in the near term.

Ethereum Price Corrects Losses

Ethereum started a major decline from the $3,500 resistance zone. ETH traded below many important support zones near $3,300 and the 100 hourly simple moving average, similar to bitcoin.

The bears gained strength below the $3,200 support zone. Finally, ether spiked below $3,000 and extended its decline. A low is formed near $2,807 and the price is now correcting losses. There was a break above the $2,920 and $2,950 resistance levels.

The price recovered above the 23.6% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $3,455 swing high to $2,807 low. An immediate resistance on the upside is near the $3,020 level. There is also a key bearish trend line forming with resistance near $3,020 on the hourly chart of ETH/USD.

Ethereum Price

Source: ETHUSD on TradingView.com

A close above the $3,020 and $3,050 levels could start a decent recovery. The next major resistance might be near the $3,130 level. It is near the 50% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $3,455 swing high to $2,807 low. A clear break and close above the $3,130 level could start a steady increase. The next major resistance sits near $3,300.

More Losses in ETH?

If ethereum fails to correct higher above the $3,020 and $3,050 resistance levels, it could start another decline. An initial support on the downside is near the $2,960 level.

The next major support seems to be forming near the $2,900 level. A downside break below the $2,900 support zone could lead the price towards the $2,800 zone. The next major support is near the $2,750 level, below which ether price might decline towards the $2,640 support zone.

Technical Indicators

Hourly MACDThe MACD for ETH/USD is slowly losing pace in the bearish zone.

Hourly RSIThe RSI for ETH/USD is still well below the 50 level.

Major Support Level – $2,960

Major Resistance Level – $3,050

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Source: https://www.newsbtc.com/analysis/eth/ethereum-confluence-resistance-3050/

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