The weather outside is frightful—plunging prices and disreputable ICOs suggest that crypto is anything but delightful. But, there are reasons to merry--that don’t involve alcohol. Cryptocurrencies, and the projects that support them have been quietly building the foundations for a brighter future. So much so, we’ve put together seven really good reasons why life’s not a bitch, even when its snowing and the bears are out roaming in crypto land.
1. Decentralized networks are growing
Crypto prices may be in free fall but that hasn’t stopped projects building and iterating and growing their communities.
Infura, which offers a suite of tools to connect apps to decentralized networks, gets more than 10 billion requests a day. Truffle Suite, which has tools for smart contracts, and Metamask, which provides a bridge from today’s internet to the decentralized one of tomorrow, have each seen more than a million downloads. More than 12,000 nodes meanwhile, are live on the Ethereum blockchain, along with more than 50 million unique Ethereum addresses, and there are three times as many LinkedIn blockchain job openings compared with time last year.
All this activity, towards greater decentralization, is not just technological, it’s social too. In plain sight, organizations are evolving, in different but decentralized ways—from the radical transparency of Bridgewater's hedge fund to the flat hierarchy of clothing store, zappos.com, by way of Valve’s wheely desks. Remote-first companies are agile and can tap into global talent. The Bounties Nework, for instance, ensures rewards are paid for any task, in any token on the Ethereum blockchain—to anyone, anywhere.
2. Blockchains are solving real-world problems
From Israel’s encrypted messaging system to Estonia’s trials with electronic healthcare records, governments are firm believers in the power of blockchains.
With its 2020 initiative, Dubai’s gearing up not only to be the “World’s Blockchain City,” but its happiest too; the South Africa Reserve Bank has won an award for its Quorum network trial; Japan is experimenting with a blockchain-powered voting system and the citizens of Swiss canton, Zug are using identity platform uPort to unlock their bikes and peppering the valley with crypto ATMs.
Enterprises are climbing on board too. Accountancy firm EY is bringing privacy enhancing zero-knowledge proofs onto the Ethereum blockchain; enterprise solutions platform Kaleido has partnered with AWS, and Procter and Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline and mining multinational, BHP are among the companies tracking goods on Ethereum.
3. Blockchain is helping those who need it most
Throughout the world, developing nations are employing blockchain tech to leapfrog outdated financial systems. In the Philippines, rural banks are being connected via a crypto-cash payment system and Chile is recording its energy data on Ethereum. From Venezuela to Zimbabwe, crypto assets are protecting millions from hyperinflation.
ConsenSys Social Impact is working to help the world’s disadvantaged, and clean up our planet in the process, and Project Bifrost is aiding agencies working in conflict zones.
Hala Systems offers solutions to protect people and assets, even in conflict zones; Syrian refugees are getting blockchain-authenticated food vouchers; the Bounties Network is pioneering ocean cleanup in Manila. In fact, there’s a whole raft of projects touching every corner of the globe.
4. The blockchain ecosystem is working together to a common standard
Interoperability and standardization in blockchains haven’t been strong to date. That’s changing.
Standard Bounties and GitCoin, which funds bounties for open source software, are getting together to test smart contracts; AirSwap and Meridio want to integrate tools for secondary trading; Kauri, which is developing a decentralized resource-sharing network for Ethereum, is working with Aragon, Dharma, Zeppelin, and others; Polkadot’s interchain protocol and the Cosmos parallel blockchains network are both expected in 2019 and BTC Relay is building a bridge between the bitcoin blockchain and Ethereum smart contracts.
Common standards are allowing blockchains to #BUIDL together and work towards common goals. They’re being adopted across tokens (ERC-20, 721, 948 and the 1337 Alliance); enterprise blockchains (Enterprise Ethereum, Alliance specification 2.0); file storage (Swarm and IFPS); naming (EnS) and messaging (Whisper, which allows dapps on the same network to communicate with each other).
5. There’s an expanding toybox full of cool tools
We have tools. So. Many. Dev. Tools.
Infura allows us to connect securely, reliably and at scale and Truffle Suite makes development easy. Pantheon from PegaSys is designed to make enterprise blockchain adoption a breeze; Kaleido and AWS target the cloud; Zeppelin makes it easier for new developers to create complex blockchain applications and “relayers” build on top of the 0x protocol, and allow non-custodial exchanges to be created.
Every day, solutions to some of the hardest problems around are being born, such as: zk-SNARKS, Pedersen commitments (a type of encryption hash); bulletproofs, for confidential transactions; Stablecoins; Oracles, Atomic swaps, light clients and hardware wallets.
Scalability problems will fall by the wayside because scaling solutions are coming. They include Sharding; Casper; Plasma; State channels and the Raiden Network, which creates 'off-chain' ledgers, dispensing with the need for mining power to verify transactions. Experiments with consensus algorithms are in full swing.
6. Blockchain UX is getting friendlier and more beautiful by the day. Mobile is here. Privacy’s improved too
A shout out to some of the projects making the blockchain sing; bringing in new users and creating seamless and secure user experiences. They include: Coinbase Wallet; Messari's token research; the user-friendly Rimble design system by ConsenSys Design; Alethio’s analytics suite; Numerai and its Erasure data marketplace (bringing machine learning to trading); premium software wallet, CasaHODL multisig; easy e-wallet MyCrypto and lastly, but not least, Etherscan, where you can see Ethereum transactions—in real-time.
There are also tools to protect our data: Brave and Status help keep us safe while we browse, and there’s identity protection from uPort, Civic and Evernym.
7. The crypto community is getting creative
People breed digital CryptoKitties; fanboys turn Rick and Morty episodes into ditties on blockchain, and bounties are paid for songs about William Shatner.
The Church of Consensus has built a decentralized religion for the devout, and others, like ravedao and @artifaqts attempt to build art and culture in this weird and wonderful world.
We stand on the shoulders of giants. Blockchain is more than a market. It’s a movement. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.