By Yanislav Malahov, Founder of æternity

The development and roadmap of the blockchain space are often compared to the beginnings of the web, a comparison that has led to much speculation around when blockchain will achieve mainstream adoption. As with any nascent technology, there are pioneers and there are critics, each with their own opinions as to what will either make blockchain a key player in society’s future, or simply just a talking point with no tangible use cases. Throughout 2018, the blockchain space witnessed a number of major developments, and as 2019 draws closer, the time is right to examine some of the issues currently facing the technology and even begin to predict what will come next for the sector.

Blockchain innovation
As blockchain develops, scalability issues will be addressed by a number of next generation blockchain platforms which have either already started their operations as minimum viable products (MVPs) or will start operating soon. In 2019, the full potential of these key players will be revealed, and they will become the infrastructure providers for a new wave of decentralized applications.

We can predict that older blockchain platforms will continue to struggle with scalability and user-friendliness, despite continuing to enjoy the positives that come with network effects. In addition, Layer 2 scalability solutions will make these platforms even more complicated and expensive for developers to use. As a result, their utility will decrease, or they will pivot into a specific sphere, such as enterprise blockchain, as opposed to general use.

As blockchain innovation continues to develop, the focus will be on improving scalability, efficiency, cost of operation, security, privacy, and user-friendliness. The main challenge will continue to be achieving all of these aspects, whilst still keeping the platform as decentralized as possible, and without introducing controversial governance mechanisms, such as EOS’ Delegated Proof-of-Stake with 21 delegators.

Mainstream adoption
The industry is slowly realizing that the volatility of coins and tokens inhibits the utility and usability of decentralized applications. This is why we can expect stablecoins and security tokens will increasingly be considered solutions in this regard.

A lack of user-friendliness and mobile support are two significant roadblocks hindering the mass adoption of blockchain technology by the public. For this reason, we expect that more efforts will be focused on improving these aspects of decentralized applications, and convincing prospective mass market users that decentralized applications are straightforward to use and easily accessible. However, the utility of decentralized applications for the average user is also still unclear. More ways to earn and spend coins and tokens will start to emerge, which will let users generate value by participating in more complex digital, decentralized economies.

The fragmentation of platforms, coins, and tokens is an issue. For this reason, we can expect to see atomic swaps, decentralized exchange services integrated into wallets, and decentralized apps that will be developed as solutions and will allow users to exchange their earned coins or tokens for any other coin or token that they prefer, such as one that has value in their locality.

What we can expect

Going forward, we expect to see further maturation of the sector in terms of technology, business cases, and regulation. There will also be a greater focus on #build than speculation, at least in the case of serious decentralized infrastructure projects and services; the pioneers in the space will continue to place their efforts in developing blockchain’s offerings and pave the way for mass adoption.

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