There are few emerging technology clichés more familiar than the claim that a single month in blockchain and cryptocurrency corresponds to a year in most other industries. While this proposition is overused, there’s truth in it, as the first several months of 2019 gave proven time and time again. If the last five months of 2019 are as eventful as the first seven months have been, how will the blockchain industry begin 2020?
We can’t deny that the year began poorly for blockchain. The “crypto winter” that began in the dark days of November 2018 still chilled the industry in January 2019, though digital assets began their recovery more quickly than the skeptics predicted. Still, the losses were severe: Bitcoin bottomed out at $3,191.30, and Ethereum went as low as $82.83. The news was as bleak as the weather was cold.
The crypto winter was a major story for everyone even tangentially connected to blockchain, but it didn’t enter mainstream consciousness the way that another significant event did. Facebook’s announcement of the Libra cryptocurrency dominated the crypto press for weeks on end, and it also made the front pages of major newspapers and the primetime coverage of all the networks. Some mainstream sources were confused by cryptocurrency in general and Libra in particular, and some reactions were downright hostile. David Marcus, the head of the Libra project, faced a Congressional grilling in July. Some members of Congress decried the existence cryptocurrency as an asset class, while others expressed interest in digital assets while taking specific exception to Facebook’s implementation, especially given Facebook’s long history of privacy violations. Facebook announced that Libra is set to launch in mid-2020; we can expect much more news — and doubtless some more controversy — about Libra in the coming months.
Though Libra received top billing in most mainstream venues, many longtime observers of the blockchain sector thought other announcements were just as significant, if not more so. The United States Security and Exchange Commission cleared two blockchain companies, Blockstack and Props, received Regulation A+ exemptions to conduct their token sales; the regulatory approval demonstrates a new maturity in the market. Now that two companies have conclusively proven that government regulation and blockchain innovation need not be at odds, we can be sure that many more projects will attempt, and attain, A+ certification.
Regulatory success in blockchain was not limited to the United States. In July, German real estate tokenization firm Fundament Group announced that its tokenization plans had been approved by the German Financial Supervisory Authority. The firm will tokenize €250m Euros of real estate; other firms in the European Union may attempt to follow suit.
Given all the breaking news, from Facebook to Reg A+ to the German Financial Supervisory Authority, it’s not surprising that the crypto winter soon gave way to a crypto spring, with prices creeping back up and long-term observers vindicated. 2019 has been a banner year for blockchain and cryptocurrency. We can’t wait to see what the remainder of the year holds for the sector.