When we look back at 2017, within our space and beyond, we might perhaps say that everything changed this year, and did do so for the better.
Boom times have returned. We can dream of peace once more again, hopefully, if the blond lion plays his cards well, and a global realization is dawning that the digital revolution has only but begun.
Yet, like the symmetry of day and night, so too opposing views, with one of the highlights of the year for this space, and quite a defining moment, being China’s exit.
Old bankers, smelling weakness, circled. Our most read article for the year went viral. They thought this space was weak, when in fact, we were at our strongest.
It is probably shortly after that moment, and after winning that “battle,” that bitcoin specifically went fully mainstream in the United States.
But much work had been done before hand by ethereum. The world’s imagination was grabbed by Singapore’s Monetary Authority announcing they had tokenized their dollar through ethereum’s blockchain.
That pilot and testing work continues, with phase two declared a success. But, although they are using a private chain, can ethereum’s public blockchain really handle such potential volume?
Vitalik Buterin, ethereum’s co-founder, believes so. Announcing, in one of the most important news of the year, scalability had in effect conceptually been solved through parallelization, or sharding, which may provide Visa levels capacity or higher.
Corporations, global brands, and even governments, embraced this space in this miraculous year. Our most buzzfilled article of 2017 probably says it all by itself: Toyota Prototypes Ethereum Blockchain Based Car Sharing Uber Alternative.
The scope of what could be done with smart contract based blockchains increased so considerably that all eyes turned to ethereum, with the currency rising and rising, to almost overtake bitcoin in market cap.
It didn’t, but it did do so in almost every other measure, including nodes, transaction volumes, and even blockchain security, making ethereum the most decentralized out of the main ones.
But to bitcoin the second half of the year was to belong, not least because ordinary individuals perhaps consider it as an umbrella term for all crypto, but also perhaps because Bitcoin Cash proved its inherent decentralized nature.
Let Freedom Reign we roared on the eve of the first bitcoin chain-split fork. Citing Hayek as a solution to the so called public blockchains’ governance problem:
“The past instability of the market economy is the consequence of the exclusion of the most important regulator of the market mechanism, money, from itself being regulated by the market process… only competition in a free market can take account of all the circumstances which ought to be taken account of.” Hayek in The Denationalization of Money.
In just four months Bitcoin Cash has achieved what no other currency has in such a short period as it is now incorporated in as good as all of bitcoin’s infrastructure, including Coinbase and BitPay.
Its grassroots support propelled it higher and higher, taking third position near ethereum with the two standing fairly close.
They dream of a local economy where suppliers, merchants, employees and customers, all operate on Bitcoin Cash. Thus they are once more evangelizing merchants adoption, aware perhaps that it was those merchants who kept bitcoin afloat during the terrible year of 2014.
Yet the biggest surprise of the year might perhaps be the announcement by Estonia they are to go ahead with an ethereum based ICO called estcoin.
That may act as a state fund of sorts towards their e-residents, who might be incentivized in various ways as well as be provided services through digital embassies.
It is the most ambitious plan at a state level, for Estonia’s citizenship could increase so considerably and with it their clout, prestige and revenue.
Beyond that, they are embracing ICOs. So any legitimate business now always has a choice to raise funds from the many, rather than the few, and thus benefiting far more.
After so much activity and such stupendous price rises, there might be some fatigue amongst true believers. Even they perhaps can not quite believe whether the promises of their technology are really becoming true.
But the nature of tech is exponential growth. What once seemed uncertain, might now no longer be so, yet some time might be needed for one to adjust to what may be a new reality.
For this technology has now taken a life of its own with so many working on so many aspects of it. In the coming year perhaps the first fruits might be seen, and then this space too might have its 1998 moment when it is suddenly almost everywhere.
Because now, at least in the free world, all realize the potential. And they look up to us, across the globe, as money itself might once more be upgraded for the first time in half a millennium.