If 2019 is to be described in one word, it is perhaps that of clarity. Clarity on Britain’s role in the world, clarity on whether trumponomics should be given a chance, clarity on why bitcoin approaches certain things a certain way, clarity on just what is the blockchain, and more clarity on ethereum.
In this space, there is nothing that can provide you more clarity than running a node. That’s what the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) did beginning this summer with the regulator now running a bitcoin and an ethereum node.
Other regulators have taken a different approach. Most prominently India, a very poor but big country which has decided to restrict cryptos and is even thinking of banning their possession altogether, leading to a $500 premium.
This very different approach could in part explain why America is America and why India is India, but China might be the more interesting story.
A chess game there continues between the people and the Communist Party as the latter attempts to restrict bitcoin trading, while the former keep coming up with ways of liberating it.
The failure of the Communist Party to a great extent is reason for optimism as bitcoin goes through another test and appears to have largely passed it because the bitcoin industry is kind of booming in China.
The Entrance of High Politics
In 2017 we welcomed global politics. In 2018 we greeted national politics. This year, bitcoin in particular has began touching the levers of power themselves.
A most fascinating case is to unfold in France with bitcoin at the heart of it, but with a considerable political angle that includes the alleged state usage of cryptos to fund cyber attacks.
This yet another proxy battle between US and Russia follows the arguable defeat of the former in Syria.
The United States said goodbye while lifting 50 tons of gold with the war declared over. No bitcoin were seized.
If peace was declared in one corner of that region, war accelerated in another, Yemen. Another land far too beautiful is now being razed as Saudis and Iran continue the oppression of their own people under the guise of a fake rivalry.
Fake for they are a same people and generally they have almost always been under one rule, whether during the great Islamic empire in the middle ages, Turkish rule for almost half a millennium, or British rule until last century.
Yet in Syria at least there is peace. In Lebanon they rose to reject this fake division, albeit without too much success so far. In Iran, they were gunned down after burning a bank.
Yet it is Hong Kong where the cries for freedom have been loudest. Sadly, they couldn’t hold the bridge even though they tried and tried even through a speculative attack on their own money.
The Liberator of Our Times
Pompous and perhaps even foolish is to call bitcoin the liberator of our times, but it is difficult to see who else has more claim to the title.
For they can arrest men, but they can’t arrest code. The latter continues to revolutionize the world with an empowerment of civilians.
That was perhaps most clearly shown by a plunge in bitcoin transactions following a blackout in Venezuela.
Just what happened in that country to make it fall so low, is not clear, but the great theme continues to be the proxy rivalry between US-Europe and Russia-China.
The latter have access to Venezuelan oil production, while the former don’t, so US has put sanctions on the country.
Obviously you can’t quite sanction bitcoin, hence presumably why it is quite popular there and is becoming popular in the entire Latin America region.
In lower Africa too, bitcoin is finding usage in light of capital controls. While in the west, the currency is more useful for savings where the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) space in particular is leading to considerable innovation.
The Slow Road
Bitcoin’s limited capacity, however, continue to remain a significant problem with the promised solution, the Lightning Network (LN), revealing limited crypto-economics incentives as someone could make only $20 a month from locking $5 million.
In ethereum, an airdrop was enough to clog the network, but something interesting has risen there this year.
The use of Zero Knowledge Proofs for scalability was not quite something known or explored before 2019.
Now that zk-snarks area has proliferated and is showing some promise to provide far more capacity without affecting decentralization.
At bitcoin too there appears to be little movement, even though they have good plans to increase its utility.
But things are moving. Stocks are in the process of being tokenized. Austria has even tokenized a stamp. Bakkt did finally launch. France opened the way for crypto institutional investors. And theres even now a lottery where you can’t lose.
And that’s a wrap, with 2019 generally a mixed year, but we’d say largely positive because adoption has continued to increase and because the extra clarity gained should hopefully bear fruits next year.
A year which we hope to be happy, peaceful, with good health, much productivity, and very wealth.