Gartner’s hype cycle methodology provides a means of modeling the evolution of any given technology, and it’s almost scarily accurate. The internet went through it, artificial intelligence went through it, and now blockchain is going through it, too.
The timeline says it all. After Satoshi Nakamoto pulled the innovation trigger in launching Bitcoin in 2009, momentum built until the peak of the 2017/2018 ICO boom. Thereafter, the crypto winter took hold, forcing a change of focus. Now, rather than hype and investment, innovators have their eyes on bringing the true potential of blockchain technology to life. Even the hashtags reflect this – rather than #HODL, we’re now talking about #BUIDL.
So, although 2019 is shaping up to be a stellar year for blockchain and cryptocurrencies, Gartner’s methodology tells us that 2020 will be even better. We can expect to see all kinds of innovative applications emerging, enabled by the fast, scalable, and intelligent smart contract platforms that are surfacing right now. So, here are the top five platforms predicted for breakout success in 2020.
RSK Smart Bitcoin
Developed on the original blockchain, RSK Smart Bitcoin brings smart contract capability to Bitcoin. It operates as a second layer on Bitcoin, enabling smart contracts to run at speeds of 100 transactions per second. Furthermore, because it runs on the Bitcoin network, this comes without sacrificing decentralization. The longevity of Bitcoin also works in RSK Smart Bitcoins favor, as the most established and trusted blockchain.
RSK Smart Bitcoin was initially founded in 2016. However, RIF Labs acquired the company in late 2018, and since then, several critical developments have taken place.
An upgrade called Wasabi was released in late July, bringing storage and security enhancements. The company has also recently established a partnership with Swarm for developing a storage solution, underscoring its commitment to interoperability. Furthermore, RSK Smart Bitcoin also launched Lumino this year, a payment solution based on state channels, similar to the Lightning Network. Based on the current rapid pace of expansion, RSK Smart Bitcoin is set to go stellar.
Unlike RSK Smart Bitcoin, Matic is a relative newcomer to the blockchain space, having burst onto the scene via a massively successful Binance Launchpad IEO earlier this year. The MATIC token offering smashed its hard cap by $600k, drawing the attention of Coinbase Ventures, which invested in the projects only days later. Matic is also on the official short list of being listen on Coinbase next year.
Like RSK Smart Bitcoin, Matic is also a second-layer solution, utilizing Plasma and a proof-of-stake side chain to overcome Ethereum’s well-documented scaling woes. Applications built on Matic can expect to achieve transaction speeds of up to 65,000 tps, together with a smoother UX akin to current everyday smartphone applications. The latter has been sorely missing from previous blockchain iterations, hampering the potential for mainstream adoption.
Since its launch, Matic has also been working hard on the interoperability challenge, establishing partnerships with Celer Network, Ankr, Chainlink, and Decentraland. At its current pace, Matic will be a force to be reckoned with, come 2020.
Converging blockchain with other emerging technologies has been a significant theme for 2018 and 2019, and Velas takes this a step further. The platform integrates artificial intuition, a branch of AI, into its delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS) algorithm. EOS appeared to solve the scalability challenge when it launched its DPoS main net. However, the platform has come under fire for being too centralized, with the formation of voting cartels manipulating the network.
Velas solves this problem with its “AIDPoS” algorithm. The algorithm chooses the DPoS selects stakers based on network requirements and artificial intuition elects the block producers and calculates their block reward.
Velas also incorporates the use of Schnorr signatures, an upgrade on the existing Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm used in most blockchains, and about to go live on Bitcoin as well. Schnorr signatures are a faster means of proving that a transaction was authorized by the owner of a particular private key. These two critical innovations enable Velas to process up to 30,000 transactions per second.
In the Aelf white paper, the project dubs itself an “operating system for blockchain,” comparable to what Linux did for computing. The project’s main chain serves as a backbone which can interact with different side chains. These side chains can also interact with one another and, perhaps most critically, with other blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.
With an aelf side chain, a developer can customize their own blockchain for any specific purpose. Thus, aelf aims to overcome the scalability challenge while enabling an interoperable blockchain ecosystem.
Aelf recently joined Lenovo and Alipay in receiving accreditation from the Chinese government. The project is also now available to developers via Microsoft Azure’s cloud computing platform.
Insolar is firmly targeted at the lucrative business of enterprise blockchain, set to launch its main net in September. Unlike the traditional linear blockchain framework familiar to most, Insolar uses a sophisticated, multi-chain setup to achieve a fully customizable, enterprise-grade solution.
In this way, a business can configure a blockchain solution for different requirements. For example, it could run one application processing high volumes of low-risk transactions, with consensus and validation optimized for speed. At the same time, it could run a slower application with more stringent governance for transactions with higher risk.
Insolar was picked along with the likes of Oracle, IBM, and Swisscom Blockchain, as one of the blockchain security solutions likely to witness huge growth over the next five years, by Market Expert 24. It’s also been shortlisted for a UK Energy Innovation Award for the development of an energy distribution system on its platform.
All this #buidling work taking place in 2019 means that 2020 is going to see blockchain technology scale new highs of speed and adoption, by businesses and individuals alike. Just like the internet is now woven into the fabric of our lives, by the end of next year, we’ll likely see the same start to happen with blockchain. In time to come, we’ll wonder how we ever did without it.