By Natalie Lord
After a tumultuous year, Bitcoin is finally headed back in the right direction and people’s enthusiasm in cryptocurrencies is reigniting. Last week we looked at some of the trends we expect to buoy the market going forward. This week we expand on that to explore other ways in which the cryptocurrency industry could be fuelled in the year ahead.
Stable coins are gaining momentum in the space. A “stable coin” is a cryptocurrency that holds a stable value. This means that the coin is pegged to another stable asset like the US dollar or gold, for example.
Unlike traditional stable assets, a stable coin isn’t confined by boundaries, it’s global and not tied to a central bank. There are many who watch the crypto market at a distance but are reluctant to enter the space because of volatility and uncertainty, but stable coins offer a sound solution that minimises risk. The potential success of stable coins is immense in every sphere of the crypto world from savings to lending to insurance and more.
Institutions are also cautiously waiting for the crypto sphere to become a safer environment and for custodial services to be created. A number of key players are working hard in this area to entice institutions to invest. BlackRock, which currently manages approximately US$6.28m, is one, as is Goldman Sachs. Coinbase, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, is another. Although there is still some way to go, the infrastructure is well on the way to being realised.
A notable change in the mass market implementation of cryptocurrencies should increase in the upcoming months as Bitcoin ATMs grow in number. There are currently almost 5000 Bitcoin ATMs in more than 77 countries around the world. After the United States, the United Kingdom and Hungary showed the second and third highest increase in Bitcoin ATM installation, whilst Bahrain got its first Bitcoin ATM.
As of May 2019, more Bitcoin kiosks supported other cryptocurrencies than ever previously. According to Coinatmradar, 69.6% of all ATMs supported other tokens in addition to Bitcoin. Ether was the most popular cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, with Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash close contenders.
There are also traditional ATMs in New York that give cryptocurrencies to users. You need a LibertyX account which is a Bitcoin payment provider. Once approved, you can buy up to US$3000 worth of Bitcoin every day using debit cards at ATMs.
Bitcoin is also becoming an increasingly popular choice for travellers. In March of last year, the tourism board in Germany, started to accept payment in Bitcoin for its services. Elsewhere, a beach town in Queensland, Australia became the first digital currency friendly town.
One of the greatest stresses of travelling is having to consider which currency you can use where. We all lose when we have to exchange money under the current regime. But Bitcoin eliminates all of that – there’s no need to exchange money or to even consider country and currency.
Another big step forward in the adoption of cryptocurrency around the world is through smartphones. There’s increasing demand and a growing market for smartphones to come with integrated wallets that store Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
In 2018, HTC unveiled the Exodus 1, which is a blockchain-focused phone with a wallet. Initially, you could only buy the phone using cryptocurrencies. The company says the smartphone met sales targets and has now confirmed that a second-generation device is on the way and expected to be released before the end of 2019.
Whether you’re interested in cryptocurrency as an investment vehicle, as a tool to facilitate global travel, a preferred currency, or simply want to observe its progress from the side lines, it’ll be interesting to see which trends are best received and most successful as the year unfolds.