Now that 2018 is drawing to a close, we seem to have this ritual where we get all mushy and look back at “what the year brought us”, and of course look ahead at “what the new year might bring us”. The first is often or a bitter review, or a romanticised rendition, the latter often best described as a wish list. Let me not break that tradition and let me share my take on 2018 and my hopes for 2019.
First of all, no, I am not going to whine, grumble or complain about Bitcoin’s financial performance. Too many people have shared — better said, forced their frustration — upon us. Was 2017 the year of showing off your Lambo, has 2018 become the year of displaying your bitter frustration? Please, grow up! As Tony Soprano used to say “What ever happened to the strong, silent type, he who would suffer in silence”?
So, what did 2018 bring us then?
Well, for starters, a lot of regulators from all over the world took positions as to how they see and treat cryptos. Although those positions are far from settled, some very distinct steps have been made. There’s a regulatory triangle shaping: from friendly to neutral, to hostile. The friendly countries (for instance Malta, UAE, Switzerland, Singapore) do not see cryptos as a threat, but as an economic opportunity, and a stimulant to innovation. The more neutral position (mostly EU), seems to be afraid to get “into it” and is investigating it. They will most likely follow suit with the US. The outright hostile countries (US, China, India) feel threatened by the sheer concept of decentralization, and by that feel a strong need to regulate (control).
And, what am I expecting for 2019?
Simply two things. First of all a more matured industry with more professionalised actors. And, that is long overdue. The days of the Wild West are behind us. Sure, part of me knows this is wishful thinking, but I’d like to see a goodbye to scams, farewell to fake profiles, adieu to getting funded on an idea alone, sayonara to the advisor with the hoodie, headphones and sunglasses, au revoir to companies who do not understand tokenomics, ciao to the non-contributing talking suits experts, and totally auf wiedersehen to being in the blockchain because you think it is sexy and can make you money. Let’s put that part of our past down to experience, but realise that era is over!
Secondly I am expecting further regulatory clarity; good and bad. As 2017 was the year where regulators were caught off guard “like a deer in the headlight”, 2018 as the year where regulators “came out of the closet”, 2019 will be the “look at me” year. Not necessarily understanding the blockchain, let alone appreciating its value and potential, the pressure to regulated will outweigh giving the proper perspective. Additionally and unfortunately, I still expect ruling of regulators to be shrouded in mist, far from being transparent.
As to what I am hoping for 2019, well, that is something completely different. A few months ago, while I attended the Malta Blockchain Summit, we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the release of that now famous Bitcoin whitepaper. Until today, we still do not know who Satoshi Nakamoto is. At the summit I did speak with a few people about that very fact, but I must admit, Satoshi wasn’t the talk of the town apart from the ongoing rumour that he would make a surprise appearance. Interestingly, I consistently keep an open view that Satoshi can be he/she/they, but at the Summit, everyone spoke of he. Statistically speaking, with man outnumbering woman almost ten to one, they are most likely right.
Anyway, my hope for 2019 is that we keep that mystery alive. Personally, much as I am extremely curious, I do believe it would be better that the identity will never be revealed. Much as I respect Vitalik Buterin, and I truly value his contribution, the way he seems to be treated by the community, with his every word being put under the microscope as if he were the Chairman of the FED where we hope to find a clue for an interest hike, is simply not healthy. I can only imagine that Satoshi's words would be even more scrutinised, most likely being elevated to a Jesus-like status. I personally believe that Satoshi Nakamoto has/have decided that this would be not helpful to the community, and even more so, contrary to the blockchain principles. Having made that decision, that to me is true altruism, in a way the ultimate sacrifice, and also makes the perfect Dickens-like Christmas story.
The only way we can appreciate this sacrifice, repay that commitment, is to not fail this fantastic opportunity called blockchain. That is the very, very least we can and should do. I am willing to make that pledge, right here, right now. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Satoshi, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and an extremely Happy New Year.
Image courtesy of Mashable.com
About the author:
Drs. Hans Koning, CEO and Co-founder Vicarium, has been involved in the Blockchain and crypto community for a few years, after having been involved in the startup community for two decades. He has been and is advisor to more than 50 coin offerings. Subsequent involvement as Board member is something that quite often results. He speaks and writes frequently about law, governance and business.