2017 has been the year when blockchain has generated a lot of interest since the introduction of Bitcoin in 2009. There have been some major developments this year and in this post I explore some of the major talking points.
Undoubtedly, one of the major occurrences in 2017 was the incredible surge in not only the introduction of new cryptocurrencies (altcoins) but also the market value. Data from coinmarketcap.com shows total market cap reached US$580 billion by mid-December up from just US $18 billion at the beginning of the year which is more than 3000% increase. Bitcoin retains the largest market cap at more than US$ 318 Billion followed by Ethereum (US$68B) and Bitcoin cash comes third (US$31B) and these figures change every day.
More global companies start focusing on blockchain
Closely related to surge in cryptocurrencies is that major companies have started to see ways it can incorporate blockchain in their systems. Firstly, more companies announced that they are accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment the latest being Price waterhouseCoopers (PwC). PwC accepted its first payment in Bitcoin in November 2017 for advisory services it received in its Hong Kong office.
Other companies that have announced they accept Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as a means of payment include: Virgin Galactic (2013) Microsoft (2014), Intuit, Square among others. Earlier (2013) University of Nicosia, Cyprus announced it was allowing students to pay pay school fees with Bitcoin and even teaches about cryptocurrencies in school. It is interesting to see how other companies respond in 2018 even with the volatility being experienced with cryptocurrencies.
Apart from accepting cryptocurrencies as means of payment, other developments have been leveraging on blockchain to create new products or improve existing ones. One of the most pronounced was announcement by AIG that it was partnering with IBM in order to develop smart insurance policy using blockchain technology. Already tests are being conducted in Kenya, USA.
But the biggest of all has probably been announcement that Dubai promises to be the first blockchain powered government. To start with, Dubai’s Prince Sheikh Hamdan bi Mohammed said the government would use blockchain in documentation –such as visa applications, payment of bills and renewal of license via blockchain by 2020. This has attracted many blockchain based startups in Dubai because of government initiatives. Dubai even has a Future Foundation that aims to explore new and ground breaking technologies in various field and not just blockchain. Dubai even has a ‘City of the future’ exploring technologies such as robotics, flying taxis and artificial intelligence. There is even a minister in charge of artificial intelligence. Clearly Dubai is betting big on science and technology beyond oil. Read more.
Not all countries have been enthusiastic about it, especially cryptocurrency trading, at least not China. Many countries and regulatory authorities have been slow in adopting crypto currencies and adopting the ‘wait and see’ scenario. However, China was among the first major economies to announce ban of cryptocurrencies in September. The ban was in form of shutting down cryptocurrency exchanges in order to avoid trading of Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. There were various reactions to the ban with majority of news articles claiming that Chinese government was doing so in an effort to try and control cryptocurrencies as they were increasingly seen as a threat to local currency Yuan. Others cited ‘too much disorder’ in the cryptocurrency world while others claimed it was strategic geopolitical realignments. Bitcoin prices plummeted to a new low of about $4100 as at that time, but it surged later on.
Apart from China, other regulatory authorities also made their input about blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Many countries have urged people to exercise caution when it comes to buying/selling of cryptocurrencies as well as ICOs. This includes SEC (securities and exchange commission) in USA. This is the equivalent of any entity that regulates currency trading in any other country.
Africa continues to warm up to Blockchain
There have been a few figures and entities that have tried to sensitize blockchain development in Africa. The interest in blockchain and specifically in Bitcoin grew in 2017. In Zimbabwe, the major focus has been on use of Bitcoin due increasing demand by people in the midst of inflation. It is one of the few places that Bitcoin price is among the highest.
In Kenya, there have been more meetups related to Bitcoin, blockchain with 2 of them taking place in the last 2 months. Coinweez organized one in November. Highlights here. Blockchain association of Kenya also organized a Bitcoin Baraza in December. Both meetups were filled up showing increased interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain in Kenya and around the continent. More interest is growing especially in area of tokenization whereby startups are seeking ways to use blockchain and smart contracts to improve businesses, agriculture, land registry among others.
Such developments are expected to continue in 2018 and Coinweez will cover as much as possible in order to give the reader an overview of happenings in blockchain world. So make sure to keep it here for a more blockchain filled 2018. We will highlight some of the major events planned for 2018 such as blockchain Africa summit and world blockchain summit taking place in Nairobi in March 2018 and CoinWeez is a partner. You definitely want to keep it here for such and much more lined up in 2018.
In case you want us to cover your blockchain related news, event or meetup or just about anything related to blockchain please get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org.
We wish all our readers a fun-filled Christmas period. HODL steady, we will see you in 2018.