2017 has been a great year of progress, we saw bitcoin rise to over $20,000 USD, while simultaneously attracting international coverage that captured people’s attention and curiosity. Meanwhile, ICOs have raised billions of dollars, helping further promote innovation and growth in the sector.
Many industry leaders believe 2018 will see the blockchain industry become increasingly mainstream, and looking at the year ahead, I believe there are eleven technologies in particular to look out for:
The grandfather of all the blockchains, Bitcoin blockchain has continued to grow amidst a lot of speculation, accusations and ever growing support by the community. While the meteoric price-rise is helping it gain attention from the masses now, some of the limitations are also coming to the fore. Scalability has remained one of the challenges, and updates to the code have been controversial. But I think the community will definitely keep working on the scalability challenges and solve it by increasing the capacity of the blocks or reducing the block contents. Bitcoin uses the Proof of Work algorithm to timestamp the transactions and validate the blocks. This is not slated to change any time soon, although there have been continuing efforts to increase the throughput of the system (though contentious). These efforts have resulted in several forks of the Bitcoin blockchain, although the underlying technology remains more or less the same.
Last year, Ethereum did not have a clear use case, a killer app, so to say, according to a lot of people (I, for one, disagreed). But ICOs have emerged as a clear killer app for Ethereum, and the explosion of this phenomenon has forced governments and regulators to take it seriously. The issues regarding scalability were highlighted when a so-called “first game on the blockchain”, Cryptokitties, threatened to bring the entire blockchain to a standstill.
Ethereum just had an “upgrade” to its underlying system, with a hard fork called Byzantium. The second phase of this hard fork should happen in 2018. Although Ethereum is currently working on Proof of Work algorithm, serious work is going on towards transitioning it towards Proof of Stake. In fact, the Ethereum Foundation just launched an alpha version of the Casper protocol on the testnet, called Casper FFG protocol. There is a possibility that the next fork, dubbed Constantinople might have a basic version of the Casper algorithm, thus slowly transitioning the network towards Proof of Stake. 2018 will definitely be an interesting year to watch as the network transitions to more stable and scalable version, while constantly hunting for the next killer app!