10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019

  • Alex Morris
    📚 WikiCoin

    From the Internet-of-Things (IoT) convergence to startups for the unbanked — find out what to expect from Blockchain in 2019 with U.Today. It’s been more than ten years since Blockchain was introduced in Satoshi’s famed white paper. The technology has expanded far beyond cryptocurrencies, disrupting plenty of industries. We will reveal why Blockchain will stay no matter what happens to Bitcoin.

10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019
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While cryptocurrencies took a hammering, 2018 was huge for Blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin and a myriad of other coins. Blockchain has plenty of use cases outside of the cryptocurrency space with IBM, Oracle, and Amazon and other multi-billion dollar companies trying to capitalize on the disruptive technology. Now, it’s time to find out what major Blockchain trends will define the current year.   

STOs replacing ICOs

 Security tokens (STOs) have been a hot topic in the crypto space, and it looks like they will continue to be hot now that Overstock’s tZERO announced the launch of the new STO platform on Jan. 21. The Blockchain-powered platform will provide any company with the opportunity to raise funds by launching its own STOs. Prior to that, the startup made an announcement about the completion of its utility token distribution.
10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019
STOs, which combine the best features of the stock market and cryptocurrencies, arose as a fully regulated alternative to ICOs, which turned out to be the passing fad of 2017.   

Tokenization creating more investment opportunities

The launch of the Estonia-based DEX, which buys the shares of the biggest companies in the world in the form of ERC20 tokens, proved that 2019 is all about tokenization. The Ethereum-powered startup will allow non-US investors to engage in the US stock market without any limitations pertaining to their location or investment amount.  
10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019
Crypto startup Zilliqa also recently introduced Hg Exchange, a fully regulated exchange that allows accredited investors to buy US stocks.   

Tokenization already became a pervasive trend in 2018, going far beyond the stock market, but this is the year when pretty much everything will be tokenized – art, wine, real estate, etc.

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Blockchain and IoT forming an alliance

Back in January, leading digital security company Gemalto released a report that states that 23 percent of responders think that Blockchain technology could be a boon for securing IoT-powered devices. Meanwhile, almost 91 percent of businesses who do not utilize Blockchain consider making use of the technology in the future.

The number of IoT-powered devices is expected to reach 26.66 bln in 2019, but less than half of all businesses can detect whether their device experienced a security breach.   
10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019
IBM also illustrated the benefits for this convergence with the help of their game-changing platform Watson IoT. Apart from bringing more security to the table, Blockchain significantly simplifies the task of managing different devices and increases the efficiency of the transaction.

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Wall Street transitioning from dabbling to actions

The fact that cryptocurrency prices took a nosedive in 2018 doesn’t mean that the global financial industry is going to suddenly give up on Blockchain. As U.Today reported earlier, Bakkt, the ICE-backed exchange, was supposed to go live in January, but its launch was eventually delayed due to the longest government shutdown in history. Speaking of other ‘big-fish’ players, NASDAQ and the NYSE plan to launch Bitcoin futures while also being keen on Blockchain. Since the crypto hub died down, there is a good reason to believe that 2019 will be the year of exciting developments in the Blockchain space.
10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019

More decentralized exchanges appearing on the horizon

Decentralized exchanges, while actually living up to Satoshi’s vision, have numerous usability issues that take a toll on their popularity. There is no centralized authority that manages the users’ funds, but it’s also a double-edged sword problem – there is no way to revert a certain transaction if private keys are stolen or lost. Keep in mind that there are certain degrees of centralization. Case in point: the Bancor DEX, which suffered from a $13.5 mln hack, though Charlie Lee later claimed that no decentralized exchange can lose its funds.   
10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019
With that being said, major crypto startups – from Binance to Tron – have launched their own DEXs in order to spearhead the shift towards decentralization in the crypto world.     

Governments will continue looking into Blockchain

The wide variety of Blockchain applications are being explored by governments across the globe (even those ones who are openly hawkish towards cryptocurrencies). China cracked down on Bitcoin, but this country is hell-bent on becoming the leader in the Blockchain race. Shanghai, Guangzhou and other major cities are all supporting Blockchain developments. As reported by U.Today, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) launched an initiative to incentivize business who are working with the DLT technology. Moreover, there are specific Blockchain guides in China for educating government officials.
10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019
Estonia is yet another country that is focused on the e-Estonia program that will digitize the government. Meanwhile, Dubai could become the very first government that is powered by Blockchain. The implementation of Blockchain could help Dubai save up to $1.5 bln per year by cutting the red herring and creating a fully paperless government.

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Blockchain-powered startups banking the unbanked

Africa, where a substantial part of the population remains unbaked, represents a breeding ground for different startups that utilize Blockchain technology in order to increase economic inclusiveness. The Rohingya Project went even further by using Blockchain to restore the identity of stateless Rohingyas and give them access to banking services.  
10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019

Real-word use cases beyond fintech  

It is worth noting that Blockchain is the most disruptive technology of the last decade, but it remains unknown to the general public. Yes, along with Bitcoin, Blockchain was one of the buzzwords in the tech space, but it’s all about real-world adoption. According to PwC research, 84 percent of companies have dipped their toes into Blockchain, but they are not ready to embrace it due to numerous ‘trust issues.’ Those who will be able to integrate Blockchain into their businesses will turn out to be the true winners of 2019.
10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019

Scalability becoming one of the main issues

Without a doubt, scalability is one of the major bottlenecks of Blockchain, which poses a major hindrance to mainstream adoption. That became very evident when CryptoKitties, one of the best-known dApps, created congestion on the Ethereum network. Bitcoin and Ethereum are only able to handle seven and 25 TPS (this level of scalability doesn’t hold a candle to mainstream payment processors in the likes of VISA).
10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019
Hence, many promising solutions, such as sharding and sidechains, are expected to be implemented in 2019. Bitcoin’s Lightning Network (LN), for example, is witnessing growing popularity with major industry players, with an eye-popping 830 percent surge in half a year. LN will significantly boost Bitcoin adoption while solving scalability pain points.   

Blockchain jobs will become more common

Despite Bitcoin, the major use case of Blockchain, taking a hammering in 2018, the number of Blockchain-related jobs continued to grow throughout the year. Moreover, as reported by CNBC, the salaries of Blockchain engineers skyrocketed to $175,000 per year, which means that they receive the highest salaries in the software development niche on par with AI specialists. According to Hired CEO Mehul Patel, ‘there’s a ton of demand for Blockchain.’ On top of that, Upwork, the leading freelance platform, had a 35,000 percent uptick in the number of Blockchain freelancers (it’s the fastest-growing freelance sector).
10 Major Blockchain Trends in 2019
However, earning a six-figure salary is not an easy feat. Blockchain developers have to code in numerous languages, including Go and Solidity. As mentioned above, major companies do not want to miss the boat on Blockchain, so they are striving to hire talented programmers.

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SegWit Explained: What Is Bitcoin's Segregated Witness?

SegWit Explained: What Is Bitcoin's Segregated Witness?
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Segregated Witness (SegWit) is an implemented protocol update that solves the problem of the Bitcoin’s blockchain transaction malleability. The point is in one of the transaction components. The first part is the Basic information (the sender, the amount, the recipient). And the second part — Witness — carries a special cryptographic signature (code). This code is a confirmation of the virtual transaction in Bitcoin currency.

Witness’ signature creates difficulties for the blockchain because the form can be changed after the appearance in the block. Bitcoin will still reach the addressee, but the construction of new transactions will be complicated because they all go along the chain. Unconfirmed transactions slow down the speed of new ones, reducing the overall Bitcoin network performance due to pulling data from a past virtual transaction.

The current Bitcoin protocol makes it difficult to implement large-scale updates, as well as to conduct fast transfers. The problematic network feature is called the “transaction malleability”. Against this background began the movement for the introduction of SegWit.

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The goals of SegWit

Segregated Witness must restore the Bitcoin network and adapt the blockchain technology to new realities. The main task is to solve transaction malleability and scalability. SegWit optimizes the transaction process and creates conditions for the subsequent increase in virtual block size. SegWit has to solve such problems and questions:

  • If Witness signature is segregated from a block of Bitcoin increases size and bandwidth of the entire network.

  • The transaction size is reduced by 2 times.

  • Reducing the blockchain size, which saves disk virtual space for nodes.

  • Starting and synchronization of nodes speed up significantly.

  • The enhanced spam protection mechanism of Bitcoin currency.

It follows that SegWit addresses the most important aspects for Bitcoin: scalability, protection level, transactions speed, and interaction with new protocols.

The story of Segregated Witness

The first talk about the need to modernize Bitcoin’s protocol and about possible ways to solve the transaction malleability problem appeared in 2012. Bitcoin-Core developers Russell O’Connor, Luke Dashir, Gregory Maxwell and others became initiators. Active actions for the currency began in the summer of 2014, when Maxwell, Pieter Wuille and cryptographer Adam Back launched the blockchain research company called Blockstream. In this environment, they found a solution to Bitcoin’s problem. It was decided to separate special cryptographic signature from the main part of the transaction. They called this function Segregated Witness.

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In parallel with Segregated Witness, the idea of ​​optimizing Bitcoin’s blockchain by increasing the block size (the default is 1 megabyte) appeared. It could be realized only through a hard fork — a rigid network separation through the introduction of changes incompatible with the current protocol. SegWit, on the contrary, was a soft fork or partial update of Bitcoin’s protocol. To implement it, the Witness’s signature must be segregated in a new part of the virtual block. And its anchor (Merkle Root) recorded in the transaction of miners’ fees. As a result, more space remained in Bitcoin’s block, and its size increased without actually increasing. This result allowed us to solve the problem of the Bitcoin network scalability, which was also quite acute.

After the appearance of the second idea, a real war broke out, including among the developers of Bitcoin currency. Miners and pools couldn’t come to a consensus from 2015 to August 2017. As a result, SegWit was accepted and activated. A special code called BIP91, developed by Bitmain engineer James Hilliard, turned out to be the best compromise among all the proposals received over several years.
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The main advantages of Segregated Witness

The list of benefits which will be received by the Bitcoin network with the introduction of SegWit is very large, we focus the main ones:

  1. The third party will lose any options of signature’s changing, which will facilitate the development of new smart contracts.

  2. Dividing special cryptographic signature from Basic data will significantly increase transaction size and Bitcoin’s blockchain bandwidth, and the average virtual block size will be 1.7-2 MB.

  3. With Segregated protocol, transactions in Bitcoin currency will remain available to participants who have accepted SegWit, and those who refuse to do so. At the same time, users with an updated protocol will work with smaller commissions.

  4. The adoption of SegWit greatly simplifies the implementation of new soft forks, allowing to introduce new ideas to improve the security of Bitcoin currency.

  5. The block validation rate and transaction security will increase due to a change in the signature hash function from linear to exponential.

  6. A segregated signature will reduce the currency’s charging fees.

  7. SegWit will have a positive impact on the Bitcoin ecosystem here and now, as well as create a springboard for further development.

Arguments against SegWit

Even today, Segregated Witness is not fully accepted by the Bitcoin network. Sceptics believe that this will take years because the number of nodes has already exceeded 10,000. An increase in the number of participants and a virtual transaction will result in a Bitcoin’s block size of 2 MB is small for the needs of the ecosystem.

Partial centralization of Bitcoin’s system due to the implementation of the SegWit protocol will increase the number of unconfirmed transactions, which will strip the network and make currency vulnerable to hacker attacks.

Some Bitcoin developers and pools believe the adoption of SegWit is dictated by the economic gain of Blockstream, which owns the Lightning Network protocol. Its technical implementation in the Bitcoin network without Segregated Witness is almost impossible.

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Will the time come for SegWit2x?

Speaking about the implementation of Segregated Witness and Bitcoin currency, it is impossible not to mention the postponed indefinitely SegWit2x. The agreement was the result of heated discussions and a search for consensus. It was decided to make a hard fork, after which the block size should increase to 2 megabytes. The split was scheduled for mid-November 2017. In fact, Bitcoin would split into two networks with its own coin, rules, signatures and standards.

However, the idea was not destined to come true. Firstly, the negative attitude of the developer community and the launched NO2X campaign did not play into the hands of the “Segregated” protocol. Secondly, BIP91 was implemented earlier and it was successful.

As a result, on November 8, 2017, the complete closure of the project was announced. But there were people who positively evaluated the results for Bitcoin. For example, the head of, Peter Smith, who initially supported the Segwit2x idea, spoke as follows:

“We’re relieved. The goal of the NYA was to bring the community together and keep the majority of the users on the same chain for at least a little while longer.”

SegWit usage metrics
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Results for Bitcoin and blockchain

From the moment of implementation of Segregated Witness, a year and a half has passed, but the protocol is not accepted by 70%. Many large services have not yet implemented it into their processes. However, positive changes are already visible, especially for ordinary users. Now the average transaction cost with confirmation within 20 minutes, according to Bitcoin Core Fees, is estimated at 5 satoshi/byte, that is, about $ 0.08 for the entire virtual transaction.

Spam attacks on the Bitcoin network have also stopped, the mempool remains free, and the average block size has exceeded 1 MB. In addition, the activation of SegWit has opened the doors to the implementation of new solutions and prospects for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general.

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