In 2018, virtual currencies experienced a bear market that affected the whole industry. However, people are talking about what will happen during 2019 and how it will affect the most valuable virtual currencies in the market.
Bitcoin is currently the most valuable virtual currency with a market capitalization of $67.18 billion. This virtual currency is going to experience an increased interest from institutions. These companies are trying to enter the market, something that is not sometimes easy to do. There are some firms that are starting to build the necessary infrastructure for Bitcoin to be able to receive institutional investments.
A Bitcoin ETF could be approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during 2019. This is something very positive if it happens. However, it also might not be approved, which means that the market will have to wait a little bit longer for it. The regulatory agency is concerned about manipulation in the virtual currency market and how it can affect Bitcoin and investors in the space.
Furthermore, Bitcoin’s Lightning Network (LN) will keep growing and expanding, a trend that started in 2018. As Bitcoin became a congested network in 2017, one of the main proposals was to improve Bitcoin’s scalability issues with an off-chain scaling solution. This would allow the network to process thousands of transactions per second without congesting the main network.
XRP is the second largest digital asset after Bitcoin with a market capitalization of $14.96 billion. Ripple, one of the companies working with XRP will be trying to expand its products and services to other countries and financial companies all around the world.
The firm is working with financial institutions and banks that want to process cross-border transactions and need to reduce costs. The xRapid product developed by Ripple includes XRP as a virtual currency for sending payments in a fast and easy way.
Although there is no roadmap for XRP it is possible to guess that Ripple will be trying to be working with new banks and financial partners. XRP would help them to source liquidity and reduce costs and transaction times.
Ripple aims at replacing SWIFT, or at least, being a strong competitor for this network in the future. Ripple is already working with more than 150 financial companies around the world.
Ethereum is the third largest digital asset in the market. It currently has a market capitalization of $14.37 billion. This virtual currency has a very important year ahead. The first update that will be affecting the Ethereum network is known as Constantinople. In January 2019 there will be a hard fork in which ETH creation will be reduced from 3 to 2 ETH for miners. Individuals that are mining ETH will receive a smaller reward for their work. This is expected to play an important role in Ethereum’s price since there will be less selling pressure in the market, allowing the price to grow faster. Although a price increase might not happen, analysts are clearly bullish on this upgrade.
The Casper protocol and Sharding are two other upgrades that will be happening later during 2019. Another update that the Ethereum network will also be facing is related to Serenity. Ethereum would have to move to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm since mining is becoming increasingly expensive and hard to be performed for smaller investors.
Ethereum has a lot of competitors that are trying to take its position in the space. EOS and Tron (TRX) are just some of the examples.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the fourth largest digital asset and it has a market capitalization of $2.84 billion. During 2018 this virtual currency experienced a hash war and a hard fork that damaged its price and affected the whole BCH community.
However, for 2019, Bitcoin Cash is getting prepared for scaling, usability and extensibility. The team behind this virtual currency knows that there are some things that must be addressed and improved.
Bitcoin Cash developers want to take its capabilities to 5,000,000 transactions per second. Now they can only support 100 transactions per second. They want to also reduce the average transaction time to three seconds and create an extensible protocol that would make future updates easier to be implemented.
In May 2019, the network has scheduled maintenance that will improve Bitcoin Cash’s network. Furthermore, they will be implementing an upgrade called Coin Shuffle that will be providing extra privacy features to this virtual currency.
EOS is the fifth largest virtual currency with a market capitalization of $2.38 billion. Although its roadmap does not provide a lot of details regarding what to expect in 2019 analysts expect EOS to be focusing on dApps and ecosystem development.
Blockchain networks such as Ethereum, Tron or EOS have been facing an important problem. Their decentralized applications are not widely used and couldn’t become mainstream. In some of these networks, some dApps have less than 1000 active users per day.
This is why the intention is to improve the whole network and make it attractive for developers that want to deploy their own decentralized applications on this blockchain. One of the main challenges is for developers to create user-friendly applications, something that has been difficult for most of the blockchains in the network.
The sixth largest virtual currency is Stellar Lumens (XLM) with a market capitalization of $2.26 billion. Stellar has been signing new partnerships this year with different companies in the space. Now, the intention is to keep growing working with corporations such as IBM.
Stellar is a very similar virtual currency to Ripple and is a strong competitor for the second largest virtual currency in the market.
IBM is a company that has been working with Stellar and that is expected to keep doing it in the future. According to data provided by IBM, 90% of credit card transactions are processed using IBM mainframes and 97% of the banks around the world are IBM clients. This is very positive for Stellar since IBM could work as an intermediary between financial companies and the Stellar blockchain network.
At the same time, IBM is working to launch the so-called Blockchain World Wire (BWW). The main purpose is to allow settlement and clearing of cross-border payments in almost real-time. Stellar is the platform that is working with IBM in order to make it possible. If the BWW is launched, it will help Stellar grow in the near future.
The next virtual currency is Litecoin (LTC) that has the seventh position in the market. Charlie Lee, Litecoin’s creator has been severely criticized by the community during 2018, and 2019 could be a good year for him to regain the support from individuals that were mostly sceptics about his decision to sell his coins when the market was reaching new highs.
In general, Litecoin was used as a test network for Bitcoin. During this year Litecoin is going to experiment with the Lightning Network and how it will be deployed in the future. Litecoin is also going to release a new update to its network called Litecoin Core 0.17. This update was announced on October 19 and it aims at reducing fees by a factor of 10. This would bring the average transaction cost down to $0.005.
Another thing that we might see during 2019 in Litecoin is related to private transactions. Although there is nothing confirmed on the matter, Charlie Lee has also been very positive about this issue and could implement them in the near future. At least, it might be possible to try their performance and effect in the network.
Private transactions are a very important topic in the cryptocurrency community. In general, they are considered very useful but regulatory agencies have not been very open towards accepting privacy coins. There is only one exception. The highly regulated virtual currency exchange Gemini added support to ZCash (ZEC) one of the most popular privacy coins in the market after Monero (XMR).
The ninth largest virtual currency in the market is Bitcoin Satoshi Vision or Bitcoin SV (BSV). It has a market cap of $1.56 billion. Although this virtual currency has been recently released after a hard from the Bitcoin Cash network, there are some interesting things that the team behind it are preparing for 2019.
According to Calvin Ayre, one of the main supporters of Bitcoin SV, the currency will be scaling during 2019. In the future, there will be some conferences related to Bitcoin SV and scaling organized by CoinGeek. There will be three important events, one in Toronto in Spring, another in Seoul in fall 2019 and the last one in London but already for the beginning of 2020.
On the matter, Calvin Ayre wrote:
“I know I am super pumped about what we have coming in 2019 and that is all because of massive on chain scaling. 2019 is all about scaling.”
Bitcoin SV proposes Bitcoin to scale using on-chain solutions. In the future, the intention is to have limitless blocks allowing its network to process an important number of transactions without having to be worried about scaling issues or congestion in the network.
We have two more virtual currencies that are going to have an important 2019. We are talking about Tron (TRX) and Cardano (ADA). Tron is the 10th largest virtual currency and Cardano is the 11th largest. Each of them has $1.34 billion and $1.09 billion market capitalization respectively.
Tron has been growing during 2018. It has registered new records in the number of transactions and addresses on its network. Similar to what EOS is trying to do, Tron will have a focus on new and improved decentralized applications on its network.
The Tron Foundation has recently released the Tron Arcade and a $100 million game fund. The intention is to promote mass adoption of blockchain technology through the gaming industry. At the same time, Tron is also trying to expand to other industries such as charity, enterprise solutions, consumer internet, social media and entertainment. Everything in order to build a global and decentralized internet ecosystem.
Similar to what Litecoin is trying to do, Tron could also implement the so-called zk-Snarks technology. This would allow the network to obfuscate transaction information and protect users’ privacy. This update is expected to take place as soon as the first quarter of 2019.
The Tron network has also a 6-stage plan that will soon see the second phase of this program in 2019. This stage 2 aims at focusing on solidifying the overall use case of the Tron ecosystem. This stage 2 is known as Odyssey and is focusing on dApp creation and distribution. Using BitTorrent, Tron will be able to reach new users and prove the capabilities of its network.
Cardano has one of the best roadmaps among the top 10 virtual currencies. They also provide technical reports every single week and have a countdown available for their next roadmap update. Additionally, Charles Hoskinson, the founder of the network is usually giving explanations about Cardano and the developments that are being undertaken.
The next Cardano’s upgrade is called Shelley and it will be producing a fully decentralized ecosystem. The update will be released at the beginning of 2019 and it will implement voting and stake pool testnets.
According to some analysis performed by Cardano, their ecosystem is able to handle around 1,000 stake pools. Furthermore, Cardano will also be receiving support on the popular hardware wallet Ledger. There will also be a light option when using the Daedalus wallet.
There are many other virtual currencies in the market that are going to experience a very promising year. It is worth mentioning some of them such as Monero (XMR), Binance Coin (BNB), Dash, Iota (MIOTA), or ZCash (ZEC), among others.
The cryptocurrency market continues to expand and shows that although the bear market affected several projects, virtual currencies are here to stay ready to keep improving their products and services.