Though the pundits and heads of global financial institutions decry cryptocurrency as an enormous bubble, drawing parallels to the dotcom fervor and tulip mania, this is merely a distraction from the revolutionary architecture supporting the momentum: blockchain. While the speculative element of bitcoin has drawn enormous scorn from media outlets and regulators eager to label the star of cryptocurrencies as a passing fad, its core elements are here to stay irrespective of how the market opts to embrace one cryptocurrency in favor of another.
Indeed, the crypto market may be in a bubble, especially when considering the rapidity of the trend higher in capitalization and valuations taken together with the thousands of coins that have since been introduced. Furthermore, the nascent structure of this new market means immense volatility, with violent corrections that exceed 50% of prices not all too uncommon in this young ecosystem. With solutions hitting the market daily and an explosion of new coins and currencies reaching prospective investors, bitcoin may face considerable challenges from newer entrants with improved value propositions that overcome many of the seminal coin’s drawbacks. Blockchain on the other hand, will likely thrive no matter which cryptocurrency sits atop the valuation throne
Is the Bubble Still Expanding?
Following the sharp revaluation of the entire cryptocurrency capitalization in January, the crypto sphere has stabilized to a degree. Even so, high volatility still plagues the space, causing prices to fluctuate wildly daily. Moreover, with an eagerness to hop on the hype train, more companies are attempting to take advantage of investors’ ‘fear of missing out’ on swift returns to capitalize on the growing awareness of the space itself. However, it should be noted, that this latest correctionary momentum has not been the first instance since bitcoin’s inception.
Bitcoin has suffered several high-profile outflows that sank its price since it was first introduced in 2009. Although its rise to $20,000 was cheered on by speculators, with some high-profile backers calling for bitcoin reaching $1,000,000 and more thanks to its deflationary properties, the momentum higher exposed some serious design flaws. Foremost were the high transaction fees that accompanied exchange and trading in bitcoin. Second was the amount of time it took to process and clear transactions, a serious drawback for a cryptocurrency that was aiming to be as fungible as fiat and as fast as credit cards. Most importantly though, it is still not widely accepted as a form of payment for goods and services, harming its use cases.
Despite displaying the ability to transfer value across sovereign borders quicker than most other legacy systems like SWIFT, accomplishing cryptocurrency’s early goals of helping underbanked communities while replacing inflationary fiat currencies remains a distant target. The most recent downturn in particular highlighted bitcoin’s weaknesses and even with second layer solutions like the Lightning Network, questions remain about its long-term viability. Moreover, while other coins have entered the race to deliver the best possible solutions, most have had trouble stepping out from the long shadow that bitcoin has cast over the entire industry. This adds to concerns that if bitcoin were to fail, the entire industry may come down with it. However, these fears are outright exaggerated considering the blockchain backbone and its numerous use cases.
Pop or Not, Blockchain Will Survive and Thrive
Whether or not cryptocurrency is a bubble unto itself is ultimately irrelevant. More important than bitcoin itself was the advent of blockchain, the decentralized ledger technology that underpins these very systems. Even if cryptocurrency was to face an extinction moment due to government bans, interventions, or an outright collapse in valuations, the technology itself would still have widespread applicability across processes and industries far and wide. Already, blockchain has found itself embraced by businesses large and small thanks to its unique properties that make it so inherently valuable. The idea of a decentralized ledger that depends on a networks consensus while espousing transparency can hardly be a bad thing. Take for example all the corporate applications that are being unveiled by industry stalwarts like IBM, Microsoft, and more.
Even smaller companies have found intrinsic value in this new architecture, especially when working to build self-contained economies that shun gatekeepers and value extraction in exchange for autonomous networks adopting more symbiotic principles designed to benefit all stakeholders. The result is ecosystems that will only grow more valuable over time as adoption increases. Exchange of value does not always have to be fiat in nature as new entrants are extensively exhibiting. A prominent case for blockchain that transfers value without the need for currency is Loyyal. This loyalty platform is creating a way for companies to more effectively deliver rewards to loyal users, hosting the environment necessary for instant awards and redemption, two objectives most existing points and mileage programs fail to achieve.
Another strong example of value exchange that isn’t necessarily monetary in nature is retail engagement platform HotNow. With HoToKeN, this platform seamlessly transfers value between the systems participating merchants and consumers. For performing tasks like social posts, playing games, or other related promotional activities, merchants can award HTKN to consumers which can then later be redeemed for in-store discounts. For retailers, the benefits are two-fold. For one, they get better engagement with loyal enthusiasts who spread the message to peers and other participants, driving better marketing value. Second, the data created, and insights derived can be used to further improve services. By extension, consumers can unlock discounts from their favorite retailers for participating.
Outside of the retail and loyalty models, other industries are reaping the rewards of blockchain’s innate ability to host decentralized applications and smart contracts. Freelancers for instance can benefit from the immutability of the blockchain to build smart contracts with customers that are capable of holding funds in escrow and also autonomously arbitrating disagreements. In the logistics field, the transparent attributes of the blockchain’s ledger make it ideal for tracing the movement of goods from the manufacturing process to the eventual sale to end-users. The number of disruptive applications for blockchain is near limitless by design, ensuring that even if cryptocurrency fails, blockchain will invariably survive.
Why A Bubble Pop Won’t Be the End of the Story
The meteoric rise of cryptocurrency valuations within such a short span of time does highlight the precarious nature of the entire environment while exposing many of its flaws. However, even if the bubble were to pop, driving valuations down to nil, the widespread applications for blockchain would remain intact. Already, the degree of adoption by companies seeking to take advantage of its beneficial attributes and characteristics is immense, even if they are ignoring cryptocurrency and its advancing capitalization. Therefore, even faced with a bitcoin extinction moment, blockchain would not only survive, but thrive as it opens the door for more self-contained economies of value that are not fiat in nature.