The year to come promises yet more innovative mainstream blockchain and cryptocurrency applications, reckons Stefania Barbaglio, director of Cassiopeia Services.

She believes that two years on from the bitcoin boom, we can see increased understanding of cryptocurrencies and greater markets maturity. With the political climate causing chaos in the UK and Europe, coupled with low oil price expectations and continued volatility in equities, alternative investment options such as those found in the crypto market can be much more attractive.

“Individuals have finally understood that blockchain is so much more than bitcoin and can truly revolutionise the way many industries work,” Stefania said.

“Embracing this technology is not only a positive step but give companies a valuable edge in the today increasingly competitive market.

“The key to successful projects is to have strong use cases and real applications that can offer unique value to people and society. Innovation is the rule.”

Here Stefania shares her top 5 predictions for next year:

  1. Darwin effect in the ICO and crypto market: After the ICO boom in 2017 and 2018, next year will bring a more ‘evolved’ phase of the ICO market. In order to survive, projects will need to present greater scalability – ability to grow without losing efficiency – and strong use cases. Coins and tokens to watch are those that can add real value to the user experience and provide new avenues for efficiency in business models.
  2. Blockchain to combat fake news in social media: Among its various applications, blockchain technology can underpin online platforms that promote more authentic relationships between users and a healthier social media environment. One way of addressing the fake news problem is to allow opposing ‘sides’ of a story to tell their respective versions within the same platform, to save time and enhance relevance.
  3. Fintech spurs growth in developing countries: Fintech tools, especially mobile banking, have helped millions of unbanked people to manage their money more safely and effectively.  In Africa, where most of the population works in agriculture, technology can make a big difference. For instance, Block Commodities is deploying disruptive technologies such as digital finance and cryptocurrency lending, as well as big data, artificial intelligence, drones and machine learning. As a result, farmers are able to reduce inefficiencies in their practices and maximise production as a result.
  4. Future economy tokenisation and growth of digital security assets: Structurallycomparable to stocks, tokens are becoming the new assets, with the advantage of being more user-friendly, practical and tangible. Security tokens are fully compliant with regulations – which protects companies and users, prevents fraudulent ICOs, as well as allowing investors of all levels to access investments.
  5. Gaming driven by sophistication and innovation: The multi-billion-dollar gaming industry is usually seen as a forward-thinking space in terms of adopting new technologies. We can now use blockchain to capitalise in the value locked within the gaming industry. Projects such as ULTICoin offer gamers – for the first time – the opportunity to exchange their gaming tokens into cryptocurrencies and then fiat currencies, turning gaming into a directly profitable activity.