Every cryptocurrency is someone’s creation and is by far imperfect. At inception, it is impossible to think ahead about each nuance; and as the cryptocurrency grows more popular, certain flaws pop up. This was the case with Bitcoin and many other altcoins that failed to adapt to the market demand in 2017. Encouragingly, the developers behind crypto projects do recognize the importance of updates and try their best to propel the cryptocurrency to the next level.
It can be hard to keep up with the milestones for each token with all the delays happening along the way, so we decided to outline the key cryptocurrency upgrades that are just around the corner.
Despite Bitcoin’s price dominance, it has a lot of shortcomings. The network is slow, the fees are high, and scalability continues to be a major issue. The improvements for Bitcoin are coming from Lightning Labs who aim to release a new protocol that will enhance the performance of Bitcoin transactions. Right now, Bitcoin’s network can handle seven transactions per second. With the upgrade, the Bitcoin network will be able to accommodate millions of transactions per second. The update is expected to come out soon. The so-called Lightning Network promises to make transactions faster and less expensive by introducing a second-layer solution that will take part of transactions off-chain. Thus, many Bitcoin users are looking forward to this updated protocol to finally launch.
Bitcoin is also seeking wider adoption. With more stores accepting the currency as a payment method, Bitcoin will get more value and utility. Although in some locations, such as Japan, the number of stores that have adopted Bitcoin is relatively high, overall, the number is quite low. The trend is expected to change once Bitcoin becomes more appealing to retailers.
In 2019, Bitcoin will be expanding its presence with Overstock. Overstock is launching a new service that will allow consumers to purchase Bitcoin through their website. Overstock will do this with a cryptocurrency wallet platform called Bitsy, which will be fully integrated with the website by early next year.
One of the most exciting things that have happened to Ripple this year is that Corby Johnson of Bloomberg TV has joined their team as a chief marketing strategist. The plan is to improve their ability to introduce XRP to institutional investors and multinationals. The end game is to increase adoption of XRP as a currency internationally.
Ripple is working on connecting with financial institutions worldwide to widen its reach. It has already partnered with the National Commerce Bank in Saudi Arabia and will likely continue to search for more opportunities to expand its market through 2019.
Ripple’s latest product called xRapid will make transactions on the network both faster and less expensive. In xRapid, XRP is used as a bridge currency. This makes the whole process more streamlined. Ultimately, this is going to make the Ripple network a lot more powerful at cross-border transactions and contribute to the system being a lot more efficient.
With these changes, Ripple hopes to further appeal to banks and other financial institutions. If more banks start to adopt Ripple, it will be a real game changer for the world economy.
If you have not checked Ethereum’s roadmap recently, you might be surprised by how much has changed. Some of the biggest things coming to Ethereum are the Casper and sharding updates. The proof-of-stake for Casper is scheduled for mid-2019, while sharding will be integrated afterward in 2020. The specific dates are not known. Right now Ethereum uses a proof-of-work concept. After the Casper update, the process of transaction verification will change and become less energy-consuming. ETH token holders will be able to stake their coins and become validators on the Ethereum network. To become validators, token holders will need to stake 32 ETH. Initially, they were going to require a deposit of 1,000 ETH, but have since decided to make it more accessible to those who aren’t big-time investors.
As mentioned above, by 2020 Ethereum plans to introduce sharding. The network will support multiple shard chains. What this will do is avoid a situation where every node needs to validate every transaction. Instead, the network will be a lot more scalable. This is a huge deal. For many, the lack of scalability is the biggest complaint they have about Ethereum. Casper and sharding are independent efforts but will eventually be merged.
The newest product in the works for Stellar is called Starlight, which is a payment channel that resembles the Lightning Network. The current payment system with Stellar relies on a network consensus to confirm transactions. The new method will allow users to pay each other directly without having to wait for the network to reach a consensus. This means instant and free transactions. There’s a demo of Starlight, but the full product should be available once the team behind this solution, Interstellar, identify bugs and vulnerabilities and make sure the product is completely secure. Ultimately, Starlight will increase privacy, scalability, and the interoperability with the Stellar network.
As the prominent developers work on creating products for major cryptocurrencies to appeal to the mass audience, hopefully, we will finally start to see wider adoption of cryptocurrencies in the next couple of years.