Earlier this week the Investing News Network (INN) reported on blockchain trends of 2017–which highlighted the surging increase of initial coin offerings and commercialization of the technology coming to the forefront, particularly in the financial services industry.
With the start of 2018 fresh out of the gates, it’s time to turn our attention to the year ahead and what’s in store for this new wave of technology.
Among some trends to keep an eye on throughout the year, Kevin Hobbs–CEO of Vanbex Group–told INN he expects there will continue to be caution in the market until there’s proper regulation, and that ICOs will still be “very popular,” but that there will be different strategies and structures “so that people can try to prepare for regulation.”
Blockchain outlook 2018: Healthcare implementing blockchain
While 2017 was without a doubt a big year for the blockchain industry, last year was only just the beginning for the sector. With more than 60 percent of banks already backing blockchain, moving into 2018 it’s expected that more industries will make the shift towards using blockchain technologies, with the healthcare industry at the top of that list.
“The focus has begun to shift to an array of non-financial use cases spanning across healthcare, identity and authentication, telecom, media, and supply chain management, among others,” BIS Research told INN in an email.
BIS Research also stated that healthcare organizations are also expected to begin the process from pilot tests towards implementation of blockchain towards the end of the year, highlighting that some of the biggest use cases behind adapting the technology includes: maintaining records of credentials and licenses, data exchange to enhance patient care, population health management, supply chain management, and medical monitoring.
“By 2020, 10-15 percent of the healthcare entities are expected to have integrated the technology in their operations,” BIS Research told INN.
Frost and Sullivan Research also estimates that blockchain technology “holds the potential to eliminate the burden and cost of health data and reconciliation and facilitate interoperability.”
More specifically, the research outlet states that blockchain has the potential to provide a platform that helps decentralize health data, which will ensure access control, authenticity, and “integrity of protected healthcare information.”
That said, Frost and Sullivan acknowledge that blockchain is still widely misunderstood by many industries, but holds the possibility of helping industries save money by improving workflows and the disintermediation of “some high-cost gatekeepers.”
Blockchain outlook 2018: Regulations coming into play?
As Hobbs told INN, caution will still be prevalent in in the market until there’s proper regulation.
“ICOs or token distributions still going to be very popular and a lot of people doing them, but there’s going to be different strategies and structures for them so that people can try to prepare for regulation that’s coming down, except we don’t know really what that’s going to be,” he said.
CBS Insights echoed similar sentiments in a report, stating that blockchain is still in its “nascent stages.”
“Teams holding ICOs have yet to collaborate with regulators to develop strong legal frameworks, and state bodies continue to grapple with the question of how to regulate inherently decentralized protocols,” the research outlet stated. “Given that major cryptocurrencies (like bitcoin) have often been used for illicit black-market transactions, regulatory clarity could be an uphill battle.”
AS BIS Research told INN, the Dubai government has partnered with a blockchain start-up in the UK, called ObjectTech, to create digital passports for entry at the Dubai International Airport “with the aim of eliminating manual passport verification, and creating the world’s first-gateless border.”
BIS Research also said that countries like Russia, Japan and China, among others, are looking to issue their own digital currencies pegged with their own fiat currencies on the blockchain, which could compete against cryptocurrencies.
In South Korea, for example, the government has allegedly banned anonymous cryptocurrency trading, with those regulations set to begin on January 20, and will even restrict cryptocurrency advertising. Rumors are swirling of new legislations coming into play in Europe and the UK as it relates to criminal activity surrounding bitcoin and instead increasing transparency by “bringing digital currencies in line with existing legislation on tax evasion, anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing,” Investing.com reported.
“The Canadian, and Brazilian governments are exploring a number of identity management using blockchain,” BIS Research told INN. “While the complete integration of blockchain into supply chain may take another decade, several companies such as Everledger, and Bitbond have already commercialized applications for tracking goods, and financing transactions.”
Blockchain outlook 2018: Companies at large
Looking into 2018, companies left and right are making the leap into the blockchain industry–and those who already have a head start in the industry are excited about what the year holds.
Jeff Koyen, strategic advisor for 360 Blockchain (CSE:CODE; FWB:C5B; OTCPINK:BKLLF) told INN that the company is confident the underlying blockchain technology is a “long-term winner,” despite what the future holds for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
HashChain Technology Inc (TSXV:KASH), which only went public in December 2017, is already making noise in the blockchain sector. Patrick Gray, the company’s CEO, told INN via email now that HashChain has gone public, its next focus is scaling its mining operations.
“We are always thinking of new ways to stay ahead of the curve and make sure we are on the forefront of a changing market,” he said. “We are looking at economically friendly ways to mine, analyzing the future changes so that we can pivot and aggressively acquiring exciting new companies.”
By the end of the year, Gray said the company hopes to have one of the biggest cryptocurrency mining operations in North America and to be recognized as a “leader in the blockchain revolution.”
The number of blockchain companies making the switch to blockchain in 2018 is also poised to explode: according to analysis from Autonomous Research, at least 100 companies will change their titles in 2018 to reflect blockchain technology, up from 31 in 2017.
Blockchain outlook 2018: Investor takeaway
While 2017 paved the road for blockchain technology, 2018 will without a doubt be the year the industry truly shines. More and more companies are making the switch to blockchain, but as Gray pointed out, investors should still do proper research and get involved–now.
“People think we are in a bubble and that may be accurate, but I believe we are only in the beginning stages,” he added.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: 360 Blockchain and HashChain Technology are clients of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.
The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.