Starting with a ruthless crypto winter, 2019 brought us a few surprises, numerous victories, and left some issues hanging. It was a challenging and productive year: while the majority of unsustainable crypto projects remained aloof, the persistent ones were focused on building and improving. As the Bitcoin price stayed true to itself – it was consistently unpredictable – a few altcoins managed to make a lot of headway.
There have been ups and downs, and the best thing we can do right now is to analyze them and walk away with a conclusion.
So, let’s look back at the main events of the departing year and reflect on them.
Three Crypto Events of 2019: Libra, TON, and Bakkt
Ever since Facebook announced its upcoming Libra launch, emotions have been running high. The crypto community and the authorities were equally concerned about the bold plans of the social media platform to introduce their own payment solution.
Libra is governed by Libra Association, a non-profit organization whose founding members include Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Booking, eBay, Uber, Spotify, Vodafone, and many other major enterprises. The cryptocurrency will, in fact, be a stablecoin, backed by the Libra Reserve, which consists of various assets such as bank deposits and securities but not pegged to any fiat currency.
But once Facebook shared its grand master plan and released the whitepaper, they ran into a wall of regulations. Almost immediately the Chairwoman of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, Maxine Waters, called for a moratorium on the project.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced Congress but failed to fully convince the authorities that his stablecoin should be given the green light. Shortly after that, all four of Libra’s major US payment providing partners decided to abandon the project, apparently, because of the issues with authorities. Visa, however, is still contemplating.
But Facebook is not yet ready to give up – the social media giant is changing the whitepaper and releasing its fiat-based Facebook pay system, similar to Chinese WeChat Pay, to facilitate payments across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Facebook was not the only household name that had to confront opposition from the state. Telegram launched its long-awaited Open Network, TON, equipped with its own crypto – Gram. TON was just one step away from becoming the pioneering token-backed project available to the public, however, it didn’t work out quite as planned.
Several days prior to its official launch, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) banned the project from distributing their tokens and declared the token sales round illegal. Another interesting circumstance was that TON had a strict deadline and if they failed to launch the network by a certain date they would have had to refund the money to investors. And, obviously, the SEC restrictions didn’t come in handy.
However, after the vote, investors agreed to not seek a refund until another deadline that will take place on April 30th, 2020. The court hearing with SEC is scheduled for February but Telegram lawyers are trying to get the case dismissed.
About a year ago, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) shared the news that it was going to launch a Bitcoin futures exchange. The idea behind Bakkt was to give customers access to the physical storage of Bitcoin and bet on the price in BTC as well. On top of that, Bakkt has partnered with a few major enterprises such as Microsoft and Starbucks and several big investment organizations.
Bakkt aims to create a network that will make crypto universally accepted and speed up the adoption process.
On September 23rd, Bakkt finally went live and had a relatively slow start. However, a few weeks later things started to take off. Although the Bitcoin price didn’t go to the moon, in mid-December the Bakkt volume managed to hit a new record daily trading volume of 5,690 BTC, which is approximately $39.8 million. Just several days prior to that Bakkt released two new products, Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Monthly Options and Bakkt Bitcoin (USD) Cash-Settled Futures.
In 2020 Bakkt is planning yet another adoption-driven move: in partnership with Starbucks the platform is going to release a consumer app that will enable users to “unlock the value of digital assets.”
Crypto Regulations 2019
China’s president, Xi Jinping, urged the nation to direct their attention towards developing blockchain tech. Moreover, the Chinese government has passed a law to regulate activities related to cryptography, an essential aspect of the blockchain system.
China’s approach has always been a bit tricky: although the country is responsible for at least 65% of global mining, it is still uncertain whether such activities are welcome. In November, China removed crypto mining from the unwanted industries list but it still doesn’t tolerate ICOs and crypto trading.
The EU states have recently agreed on mandatory AML and KYC procedures for all cryptocurrency exchanges operating in Europe. The Fifth Anti Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) is about to be enforced on January 10, 2020
As for the US authorities, they keep figuring out the basics, looking for the best way to bring regulatory clarity to the crypto space.
Three Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and EOS
For Bitcoin, 2019 has been a year of recovery. The year started with BTC trading at slightly more than $3,000 and everyone was dreading it going any lower. And then the crypto spring that blossomed in April and May proved skeptics wrong when BTC reached $6,000. In June Bitcoin’s price was nearly $14,000, which meant a 330% improvement.
And then the downfall kicked in again making 2019 the year of Bitcoin’s shortest uptrend ever.
Now, what about the milestones that Bitcoin hit this year?
- 85% of Bitcoins are already in circulation, which means that only a little over 3 million coins are left to mine during the next 120 years.
- More than 18 million Bitcoin has been mined this year and the bitcoin blockchain has reached $1 billion in aggregated transaction fees, even though SegWit and the Lightning Network have actually contributed to lowering the fees during the past couple of years.
- In 2019, 13,700 Google Scholar articles mentioned Bitcoin. By now, more than half of the world’s top universities have at least one course on crypto or blockchain.
In mid-January Ether was trading at $116. But in the next half a year, the value gradually increased and peaked at $334 in June. And then, following Bitcoin, Ether went back to balancing around the $150 mark, showcasing a not really mind-blowing 20% increase since the start of the year.
Ethereum is currently preparing for its next biggest update, which is supposed to change the entire foundation behind the blockchain and switch from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake. And it seems like, Vitalik Buterin is not keen on waiting too long as he recently made a proposal on how to speed up the process.
In the beginning of the year the price of EOS was $2.23 and once the crypto spring hit, it eventually surged to $8.54 by the end of May. The inevitable downfall sent EOS down to the $2.55 mark and left it hanging there quite stably with around a 10% annual price increase.
As for the tech part, it was a busy year for the EOS community. Among the most significant events, there were three that are definitely worth mentioning.
- #B1June with over 300 influencers, devs, experts, and other community members gathered together. A few major updates such as EOS 2.0, Voice, and joining Coinbase learn program were announced.
- EOS 2.0 – a faster, simpler, and more secure version of the network was released
- EIDOS token airdrop that caused congestion on the EOS blockchain
The Best Performing Altcoin
Chainlink, the platform that aims to connect smart contracts and real-world applications with its LINK token was definitely a cryptocurrency rockstar of 2019. Just like all the other coins, LINK token had a rough start but everything changed in June when the token went from $0.45 to $3.74. Right now it is balancing around the $1.80 mark but in general its price has skyrocketed by more than 500% since January.
The Bottom Line
For the blockchain community, 2019 was a year of building. As the majority of all weak players left the market, the development process is well underway. There have been a few noteworthy progressions like growing institutional interest, the rise of DeFi projects, IEOs taking over ICOs, as well as the increasing number of Bitcoin ATMs in the US and the unprecedented popularity of stablecoins.
That being said, 2019 was not the brightest year for the crypto space, at least comparing to 2017. A lot of promises and predictions have been made but hardly half of them came to life.
But as one should always remember – progress needs time, dedication, and patience.