Governance News

Will blockchain see mass adoption in 2019?

While we’ve felt slight warming in this “crypto winter,” the past few months have been an awakening for many blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Yet all is not lost. As many figures have expressed, the drop in Bitcoin and Ethereum (along with the rest of the industry) has served to clear out speculators so that those working on platforms and DApps can focus on actual products and use cases of this technology.

Over at Coindesk, Sheila Warren is pleased a lot of “nonsense” has exited the field. She’s excited that “brilliant minds” are working hard on the technical challenges ahead, though she’s less optimistic that blockchain will bring “positive social impact.” (Given the traction companies like Swytch and Inkrypt are getting, though, I’d have to disagree.)

Warren, who serves as the head of blockchain and distributed ledger technology at the World Economic Forum, is also happy that governance is a main driver for blockchain companies. She writes,

The good news is that, along with the cooling market, the hype around blockchain tech as being the “mother of all solutions” has finally started to quell, and we are starting to see a renewed focus on empowerment. Decentralization and democratization are arguably, two of the core principles at the root of the technology’s development.

Inclusion in traditional systems, she notes, is one bright spot of blockchain in general. Companies uniting to form ecosystems and stakeholders having a say in the operations of such companies are two important markers of evolving governance models.

Not everyone is excited that larger companies and corporations are getting in on the game. In a massive piece of speculation for 2019, Arjun Balaji, discusses governance, specifically citing DAOs as potentially leading the way for that use case we’ve all been awaiting:

One thing to be more excited about: with more research in formal governance systems, DAOs could make a comeback over the course of 2019. Widely written off as a failed concept due to The DAO, two years later, there are new attempts. One DAO launch which looked cool this year is the Moloch DAO, which aims to contribute to Ethereum infrastructure and solve the tragedy of the commons problem in the ecosystem’s open-source (infrastructure) development. I’ve stated before that “crypto projects should have a plan to dissolve into some future decentralized governance model.” I see crypto projects re-architecting Swiss foundations into DAOs as the first potential “killer use case” and think we will see iterations of this in 2019.

True decentralization remains top of mind for Open Source educator Chelsea Palmer, who points to crypto’s cypherpunk roots as the guiding principle that cryptocurrency and blockchain organizations need to remain committed to. Even during the market downturn, she fears centralized organizations poking around trying to figure out how to capitalize, which will ultimately destroy the possibility that the technology will live up to its original intention.

Recentralist tricks were in full swing as the year kicked off, and even as opportunists fled the crashing market, we’re still surrounded by those who seek to undermine the core principles of our presumed revolution.

Others are even less optimistic. In a biting editorial, Michael Spencer writes that “bro culture” led to “crypto tribalism,” which violated basic ethics, such as companies scaling without any actual product to show for it. While he doesn’t see much hope for the future of crypto communities, others are more inspired by technological innovations occurring in blockchain.

One thing is certain: this trek is not for the faint of heart. Perhaps it’s partly the fault of trying to launch new technology in the age of social media, but patience has not been a quality exhibited by many enthusiasts or critics. If blockchain companies are to live up to the standards of security and scalability required to be a game-changer, it’s going to take a whole lot of time, introspection, and honesty.

But, like the internet itself, sometime in the near future we’ll wonder how we ever lived without blockchain. Then we can reflect on how the growing pains were just part of the process. The noise will likely continue for the foreseeable future, but the good news is that plenty of people are working hard on signals that break through the chatter.

Considering that Forbes recently listed blockchain as the #1 and blockchain as a service the #2 breakout technologies of 2019, many others feel the same way.