Blockchain was the focus of many conversations this past year. But, those conversations may soon be coming to an end. A recent study found that out of 43 initiatives that promised lofty objectives to be achieved through blockchain, none of them were able to achieve their goals.
Throughout 2018, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rapidly lost value, as much as 80 percent when compared to the 2017 peaks. The combination of the lack of progress in all of these projects and the numerous scams in the field has led many to lose interest in the technology.
Initial coin offerings, or ICOs, have led to many failed projects and lost money. These are seen as a way for businesses to raise capital that in theory will become more valuable as the business grows. However, a lot of these operations have disappeared into thin air and in general have not been very transparent, which has led to people being wary of getting involved. All of this negative press has forced many organizations to be more careful with their operations. To avoid backlash, some companies have started using the term distributed ledger technology, instead of blockchain.
These aren’t the only problems that keep wider audiences from utilizing blockchain. Explaining to some people why blockchain is so revolutionary is hard, especially if they have no level of familiarity with the technology. There are also significant environmental costs associated with generating the needed computing power to fuel different blockchain applications. The Bitcoin network is on track to burn through the same amount of energy in a year that the entire country of New Zealand uses in a year. That being said, this research white paper by CoinShares Research found that Bitcoin mining is currently running on 77.6% renewable energy making it by far the greenest of any major industry. The fact that this much energy is used to secure the Bitcoin network has also made it the only cryptocurrency with any actual value proposition for the storage and transfer wealth among so many scams and non-existent digital ledger projects.
Forrester analysts predict that in 2019, a “blockchain winter” will begin, meaning that because of frustration with the technology and a lack of results, the excitement around it will lessen and projects in the works will stop. While this is a disappointment for those who are invested in the tech, it isn’t all bad. It’s likely that blockchain arrived before its time, similar to artificial intelligence. Blockchain may be slowing down for now, but that doesn’t mean you should count it out quite yet.