There is no denying that 2018 was not the best year for cryptocurrency enthusiasts. From the crash of the price and market capitalization at the beginning of 2018 to the tsunami of bad news (multiple countries banning Bitcoin, million dollar heists of crypto-exchanges, Ethereum’s hard fork being postponed one more time), the road was bumpy and rough. At the end of 2017, there was an enormous inflow of institutional money, and with it, a level of manipulation that is only possible in low volume markets. Investors’ trust in cryptocurrencies, so unwavering at the end of 2017, had to face a hard 2018 full of lower lows and stagnation.
With market capitalisation and volume being at a record low, 2018 was the perfect scenario for price manipulation, like ‘pump and dump’ techniques (a technique that involves specialised groups making a low volume coin grow exponentially in price, attracting unaware investors and selling huge volumes right after, making the price plummet) and plenty of other illicit opportunities to make some easy money. Studies show that the crypto-market blindly followed the waves of good and bad news from big news portals, which could be considered a form of price manipulation as well.
2018 also taught us an important lesson: the cryptocurrency market is still very young and relatively small. The majority of crypto enthusiasts is formed by young investors with low investment power, and also by cryptocurrency and token developers themselves which focus on usability instead of speculation.
Out of the Limelight
Even with the market apparently stagnant and full of lower lows, the crypto world has not stopped – actually, quite the opposite: the volume of crypto to crypto transactions remains strong thanks to Dapps (Decentralised Applications), at the same time that the prices of crypto x fiat would not move at all.
Compared to previous years, 2018 had considerable growth in the use of tokens and cryptocurrencies internally, as the Ethereum Network Utilization Chart shows, without any conversion to fiat money. While the fiat price of cryptocurrencies suffered from high volatility and insecurity, the real price of cryptocurrencies did not change: it was always fixed. Products and services transacted within the crypto-sphere did not suffer from volatility and therefore it was much safer to buy and sell using crypto. This remains true even today.
Some good examples of this are crypto collectibles: merchandises created on the blockchain that are transacted within their own ecosystems. Games like CryptoKitties, Decentraland, MegaCryptoPolis, Gods Unchained, and so many others have grown exponentially in the past year in the number of registered users and in buy/sell transactions. Crypto games accept only cryptocurrencies as a means of payment and are totally independent of their dollar or euro prices to their valuation.
The Support of Tech Giants
Even if last year has been marked by crypto exchanges hackings and bad news, some key events of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 shows us that cryptocurrencies are gathering momentum in the international market. Without big announcements, tech giants started to show support to the crypto-world. For example, Samsung confirmed that its last smartphone in the Galaxy line, the S10, is equipped with a crypto wallet in its hardware, and Google added the Bitcoin symbol (฿) to its virtual keyboard on iOS.
The smartphone company HTC also showed unprecedented support in the sphere of the tech giants: it created the HTC Exodus, a smartphone with native support to blockchain and cryptocurrencies in partnership with the creator of Ethereum itself, Vitalik Buterin. The fact that the phone supports cryptocurrencies natively, opens a myriad of opportunities for mobile developers to focus on the smartphone market for Dapps; a market that was almost 100% aimed at desktops and laptops. Surprisingly, HTC launched the presale of the Exodus 1 in October 2018 accepting only cryptocurrencies as payment (BTC, ETH, and LTC).
2019 and Mass Adoption
The year 2019 is expected to be super important for the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. Major projects born at the end of 2017 (that survived a dry 2018) are already showing promising results for Q1 of 2019, results that put cryptocurrencies in use without the need for conversion to fiat money.
Blockchain support in smartphones opens the horizon for an unprecedented adoption of cryptocurrencies, making their use more focused on daily tasks and less focused on speculation. In the medium and long term, that makes them less volatile and more trustworthy for micropayments within the blockchain sphere, as well as for buying/selling products in the real world. With the support of the big names of the tech industry, the crypto world loses its aura of mystery and fear and becomes ordinary and usable.
A mass adoption reinforces a mainstream status for cryptocurrencies and introduces their possibilities and advantages to the regular user: more transparency, fewer fees, and faster and safer than regular money. For a long time, cryptocurrencies had a negative image for their high volatility and difficulty of use, but this is about to change, and 2019 can be an important year for that to happen.