Soon it will be 2018 and while we’ve seen significant progress with blockchain and distributed ledger technology, we’re looking forward to what’s to come. And so is the Hyperledger community. In fact, we asked a few of our members to predict what will happen in 2018 – from surprises, to how the market will evolve, to industry adoption, to what they hope doesn’t happen.
Read below to see what they had to say!
What’s going to surprise us with distributed ledgers and smart contracts in 2018?
“The biggest surprise will be that smart contracts will have its own identity away from the blockchain. The very idea that contracts will be executed automatically when certain conditions are met will lead to payments being made or delivery dispatched or anything that a business can define within the framework of a typical contract. Blockchains are what drive the consensus nature of smart contracts. Once the initial conditions are satisfied, then the contract is executed. We would see successful pilot projects where smart contract systems are used to monitor complex insurance policies that require transatlantic cooperations. We should expect to see more such systems that will extend beyond insurance institutions in other sectors such as asset management for physical goods and ownership of physical assets.” – Sankalp Ghatpande, Security Researcher, University of Luxembourg
“Combined with AI, Big data and Cloud technology, distributed ledgers and smart contracts will be used by a new kind of Robot which can enter our home in near future. The Robot can interact with the smart home equipment and learn from other Robot by blockchain data sharing.” – Chen Honggang, Product Director, Peersafe
“During the last years, we have seen the three key emerging technology areas, distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence and the internet of things that have grown significantly in relevance. In 2018, we will see a tipping point in their convergence with the three technologies working together in a seamless ecosystem.” – Oliver Bern, CMO, TradeIX
“I think the biggest thing we’ll see in the distributed ledger and smart contract space is how readily both are adopted by the consumer. The two concepts can seem a bit esoteric, especially when there haven’t been a tremendous number of use cases developed for people outside tech-related industries. There are many exciting projects in the works wherein consumers will actually be able to utilize the full potential of these technologies. The ecosystem will leverage consumer’s digital assets and allow them to privately assert their digital identities when, how and with whom they choose. I think 2018 will be the year where the capabilities of made possible by distributed ledgers and smart contracts will move from the realm of possibility into the realm of customer expectation. Moreover, and often facilitated by organizations like The Linux Foundation, I think the inter-industry collaboration borne out of a desire to maximize these technologies will be a surprising – and very welcomed – part of the coming year. Standards are an effort that raises all boats.” – Andre Boysen, CIO, SecureKey Technologies
“We’re going to be surprised when we realize the full extent of pilots run by established banks, financial institutions, large enterprises, governments, and academia. While much of the attention for distributed ledgers will be consumed by how it can be used to store value and for payments, alongside will be an environment of pilots that will give rise to an blockchain application ecosystem that will encompass other use cases such as smart contracts, blockchain registry, and digitalization of identity and assets.” – Gert Sylvest, Co-founder, SVP of Global Network Strategy, Tradeshift
“The biggest surprise will be the new business models that leverage the unique capabilities of blockchain, rather than blockchain replacing existing technology. Additionally, many of these new business models will benefit tremendously from raising capital through token sales, which will accelerate application development and production-ready blockchains. The effect of token sales on blockchain application development – be it with enterprises or startups – is going to be dramatic.” – Aaron Symanski, CTO, Change Healthcare
How will the distributed ledgers and smart contracts ecosystem and market evolve in 2018?
“The year 2018 will be critical in determining the viability of enterprise blockchain solutions. The year will gauge the appetite of the market for different blockchain-based solutions that are currently on rise. At this time the market is hyped with different usabilities of blockchain, as such in the next year we will know about the actual impact of blockchain in enterprises.” – Sankalp Ghatpande, Security Researcher, University of Luxembourg
“We hope to see several new Hyperledger projects, providing new types of ledgers, new versions of existing ones and specially amazing tools to work with. It seems that we have enough to run few production cases collaboratively by Hyperledger members as well just to put sign “Under construction” to new projects from older ones. Also we’d like to congratulate new members-2017 and warmly welcome to our warm community next newcomers from the New year. “We will see new practices for legally binding of distributed ledgers and smart contracts as well as first impacts to industries using it.” – Alex Yakovlev, Head of decentralized solutions direction, NSD
“In 2018, we will leave the overhyped period behind us, and enter in year commercializing real-world applications. It will be the year distributed technology comes into production. We will not even notice that distributed ledger is the enabling technology. It will be matured to promote itself in widely accepted, evolutionary steps compared to a disruptive manner.” – Oliver Bern, CMO, TradeIX
“Startup vendors are driving these markets today. In 2018, we expect to see increasing drivers from corporate entities, including increased investment into strategic use cases and infrastructure. Blockchain technology vendors will release enterprise development tools that will speed up development cycles, bringing more applications online and into production faster. We especially expect this in healthcare, where Change is developing blockchain network solutions to bolster this new class of applications.” – Aaron Symanski, CTO, Change Healthcare
“During 2018, we anticipate that a number of current proof of concepts will be put into production and that regulators and market participants will continue to work together to develop standards for industry-wide use. At DTCC, we are re-platforming our Trade Information Warehouse (TIW) using DLT, working in partnership with IBM, Axoni and R3 to drive further improvements in derivatives post-trade lifecycle events. We are working collaboratively to build a derivatives distributed ledger solution for post-trade processing based on existing TIW capabilities and interfaces with technology providers and market participants, and we are also designing the governance model for operating an industry DLT. The re-platformed TIW will move into user acceptance mode from the first quarter of 2018 and we expect the service to be fully live by the end of 2018.” – Rob Palatnick, Managing Director/Chief Technology Architect, DTCC
“There is a lot of work that needs to go into permissioned chains and how smart contracts can be used. Most blockchain platforms lack scalability and this year we hope there would be a lot of focus on platform scalability and reliability. Likewise, we expect to see a major influx of vendors offering frameworks to test and benchmark blockchain networks as well offering BaaS (Blockchain-as-a-Service) related to automating processes like node setup and smart contract programming. There will also be lot of focus on interoperability of blockchain platforms because ultimately, the overarching goal of DLT is to simplify data sharing and interoperable decentralization, not to build many standalone, siloed decentralized networks. Industries will also have many more discussions on how to make a truly permissioned chain and still follow basic principles of decentralization, as we believe many new consensus algorithms will be implemented keeping permissioned chains specifically in mind. By the end of 2018, we hope for less experimentation and for projects to start moving towards large scale production pilots.” – Joshua Q. Israel Satten, Blockchain Partner and Head of Global COE at Wipro
How will adoption in the enterprise look different (or evolve) by the end of 2018?
“As distributed ledger and blockchain technology attracts more use-cases and goes through more rigorous beta testing in a variety of industries, the adoption time will diminish. The ripple effect of enterprises seeing the benefits distributed ledger, smart contracts and blockchain bring to their competitors will drive a more expedient implementation of the technologies. Efficient on-boarding of service end-points is the next task.” – Andre Boysen, CIO, SecureKey Technologies
“DLT solutions will evolve to not just represent organizations / enterprises but also devices and other things via light nodes, as we also come to realize that current-state DLT alone can’t replace enterprise system. Some serious pruning of current projects will happen and a lot of current POC projects will be stopped. There is a definite need for full-fledged enterprise frameworks to evolve whereas other missing pieces of the puzzle like identity management, middleware components, and distributed databases that are not yet developed. We believe there is going to be a tremendous movement in these areas and we should work on tying these pieces together for a solution that can work in production. Enterprises will begin leveraging blockchain as external BPM’s to manage business processes with partners in and out of a given company. This will work in tandem with internal processes and integrate with existing systems. Enterprises will need to change their mindset about sharing data as there can’t be a case where you want to be transparent with data, jump onto a DLT, and NOT share your respective code and data. We will also begin to see concerted efforts to bridge implementations of Blockchain with that of other emergent tech like cloud and AI.” – Joshua Q. Israel Satten, Blockchain Partner and Head of Global COE at Wipro
“The enterprise will begin hiring Blockchain developers (or technologists, if you will), balancing the current hiring of Blockchain business development managers. Enterprise end-users will shift their focus to blockchain app development, relying on vendors for software and network infrastructure, which will be increasingly provided by enterprise IT companies, like Change.” – Aaron Symanski, CTO, Change Healthcare
What’s the thing you’re most excited about in 2018 regarding distributed ledgers and smart contracts?
“I’m most excited about a more interoperability-focused market in 2018, even if full DLT to DLT interoperability is not achieved. We’ve already seen quite a big push from experimentation to production this year and I think we’re going to see more of that in 2018. But, interoperability is really what’s going to take things to the next level and I’m looking forward to the topic being explored further.” – Travin Keith, Founder, Agavon
“We believe there will be a wider appreciation for the important legal and operating requirements for smart contracts.” – Aaron Symanski, CTO, Change Healthcare
“Several initiatives have been launched in 2017 with the aim to provide an open, smart, interoperable technology infrastructure that connects the global ecosystem. 2018 will be the year, where the leading banks and their technology partners will launch multiple commercial applications of trade finance solutions leveraging blockchain technology. During next year, distributed ledger technology will develop in the banking world from promise to real-world, valuable solutions.” – Oliver Bern, CMO, TradeIX
“How fast distributed ledger and smart contracts will be accepted at law and regulations and how the prices of cryptocurrencies will develop. Also the Increase of speed of transactions and transaction volume.” – Anonymous
Where do you think (what industry) will see the largest growth/adoption?
“I think the IoT industry will see the largest growth.” – Chen Honggang, Product Director, Peersafe
“It will be technical growth of distributed ledgers at first. We’ll learn how to work with huge amounts of data, how to scale our proof-of-concepts and pilots to production environments and calculate first achieved benefits of distributed ledgers and smart contracts.” – Alex Yakovlev, Head of decentralized solutions direction, NSD
“Digital identity. I think 2018 will be the year when consumers truly understand the concept of a holistic digital identity, wherein they use a number of secured online services (facilitated via blockchain and smart contracts) to build healthy and streamlined online identities versus picking one or two services because they lack trust in online security. This will be the year when digital identity really begins to be understood as an essential part of one’s digital life. Similarly, enterprise will come to understand the value of having secure digital customer identities, both to streamline processes and protect themselves from malicious attacks that are so prevalent today. Digital identity will make it possible to get higher business confidence with less data, thereby providing a better customer experience and a lower breach risk. I believe digital identity will see the largest growth/adoption both by intrigue and necessity.” – Andre Boysen, CIO, SecureKey Technologies
“We see large growth potential across industries where there P2P models can specifically be employed whereas we see large adoption potential in the government sector. P2P models are a natural fit for the type of decentralized marketplaces a distributed ledger can support. We have already supported the enablement of commercial use cases across payments, electric car charging, and energy redistribution. Energy in particular, whether related B2B, B2C, or C2C models presents a plethora of business optimization use cases with electricity, carbon credits, and solar being several initial focus areas. In respect to the public sector, from the standpoints of infrastructure adoption, seeking digital ID solutions and solving Central Banking solutions blockchain presents exciting potential to some longstanding federal issues.” – Hitarshi Mennketu Buch, Senior Blockchain Architect at Wipro
What’s one thing you’re hoping does not happen in 2018 with respect to blockchain?
“I’m hoping that we do not see too many projects that use blockchain but really shouldn’t. Though it’s tempting to use blockchain to gain attention and funding, it’s not always the best solution, or the best solution to use alone. In the long-run, this will be damaging for the branding of the technology, as those businesses will be left with a bad taste in their mouth after they find out that they should’ve been using something else all this time.” – Travin Keith, Founder, Agavon
“Blockchain in its current state has the potential to be revolutionary. With the hype surrounding this, there is a high risk that a large number of blockchain initiatives that are currently being developed will fail. The failure will not be due the technology but rather due to other factors such as a lack of clear adoption strategies for such technologies, lack of legislative protections, issues with implementation that would be exploited which in turn leads to the loss of confidence from all stakeholders on the technology. We hope that majority of the projects will understand the risk and avoid this by having a good strategy in place.” – Sankalp Ghatpande, Security Researcher, University of Luxembourg
“The exciting and truly promising aspect of distributed ledger technologies is that they are developed in collaborative environments. Similarly, I hope the technology does not become siloed as more companies implement new versions of the technology. Siloed data is one of the chief things distributed ledger and blockchain technology is solving, so moving backward to a closed-door approach will not be productive. A separate worry is poorly conceived new services tarnish the technology by failing to deliver on service integrity, or increasing breach risk, or worst of all creating new privacy risks.” – Andre Boysen, CIO, SecureKey Technologies
“We have learned many lessons over the last couple of years in identifying how blockchain and DLT could be applied to post-trade processes. While the technology is now being put to use in a number of proof-of-concept initiatives across the industry, we are not there yet. In order to re-imagine and modernize current processes, we must continue to collaborate and first understand where market practices will benefit from blockchain technologies and where the business case does not stand up. Second, we must work together to identify and implement best practices to prevent technology silos and asset processing fragmentation from being created, which could lead to the same reconciliation and interoperability issues we face today. In addition, regulated and trusted central authorities must work together to introduce the standards, governance and technology to support DLT implementations. By working together – regulators, market participants and technology providers alike – we can help ensure that new initiatives support the core principles of mitigating risk, enhancing efficiencies and reducing costs.” – Rob Palatnick, Managing Director/Chief Technology Architect, DTCC
“I hope we don’t see see a regulatory clampdown that is not balanced by regulatory exploration and curiosity. The potential socio-economic upsides are too great for that. I also hope that there are no more DAO-like security breaches. While the experimental nature of the DAO environment makes it a bit of a special case, they are not completely infallible.” – Gert Sylvest, Co-founder, SVP of Global Network Strategy, Tradeshift
What is the importance of interoperability amongst various distributed ledgers?
“Interoperability is greatly important, as it allows each company, no matter what type of DLT they use, to work with each other without having to change what’s already implemented. As implementing blockchain into existing systems isn’t the easiest, especially in this early stage, it’s not ideal for a company to change the blockchain they are using with every new business partnership being formed. This will likely come in stages though, with off-chain linking done in the early stages and then full DLT-to-DLT in the later stages.” – Travin Keith, Founder, Agavon
“The sheer scale of assets stored (as opposed to 21 million bitcoins), will lead to the appreciation of “chains of chains” and other interoperability approaches as important. Equally appreciated (and important) will be the migration of applications and assets from one chain to the next as various protocols inevitably fail, or better ones emerge. This is already relevant to migrating sandboxed applications to production chains.” – Aaron Symanski, CTO, Change Healthcare
“The importance cannot be overstated. There will be a growing number of DLTs spanning private and public DLT use cases, and a growing number of viable DLTs. If there is no ability to transact and understand the smart contracts defining the semantics of transactions between these, a lot of use cases will never be realized.” – Gert Sylvest, Co-founder, SVP of Global Network Strategy, Tradeshift
“Interoperability patterns are needed to integrate blockchain platforms with legacy systems, and with each other so it carries enormous importance for Blockchain’s long term success and relevance. Interoperability is a driving factor that has pushed Blockchain’s trending as a functional business solution while becoming an increasing technical issue as more DLT providers have entered the market and more companies choose to create their own unique proprietary Blockchains. In respect to the latter, organizations do not want to invest in multiple DLT platforms but may have to interact with many; in such a scenario seamless integration and protocol interplay will be required for widespread blockchain adoption and success for a given industry. Without interoperability, blockchain will never truly ‘breakthrough’ in the same way as the internet has.” – Deepak Gera, DLT Developer at Wipro
By this time next year, which industry will have the largest (scale-wise) production system built with Hyperledger software?
“I think the financial industry will have the largest deployment of Hyperledger software. Such as Bill blockchain, Letter of Credit blockchain, Settlement blockchain etc.” – Chen Honggang, Product Director, Peersafe
“Healthcare. Change Healthcare will be tracking more than 30 million objects per day and billions per year. That is why working with Hyperledger is so crucial: Hyperledger is the only blockchain community marketing to healthcare, and they have a 14-month lead on any other protocol development group. Add to that Change Healthcare’s contribution, and Hyperledger may well become the primary infrastructure provider for healthcare + blockchain.” – Aaron Symanski, CTO, Change Healthcare
Which collaboration between Hyperledger projects, or an outside group/project and a Hyperledger project, will we see that is most surprising?
“I think the most surprising thing that we will see is the attempt to connect public chains outside of Hyperledger with private chains that use Hyperledger. There are significant benefits to doing so, connected with interoperability, though probably in a centralized solution instead of decentralized in 2018, such as allowing for microtransactions on the private chain while allowing for public announcements on the public chain.” – Travin Keith, Founder, Agavon
“There is a funny hashtag quip on Twitter that says #ID – #IOT = #IDIOT. The Internet Of Things is pushing a powerful wave of change throughout the economy. For all the positive use-cases IoT provides, there is a latent challenge that remains unaddressed. All of these devices need to be linked to an owner, that is an identity. Absent an identity these devices can cause real harms. I sold my IoT-BMW in 2014, in 2016 I could still see where the car was – that is a very benign example. A large botnet of home IoT was put to work as a dark army in the 2016 Amazon botnet attack. IoT devices need to put into service, taken out of service, and to transition between owners. This requires collaboration between digital identity and IoT industries. Both industries are using Hyperledger – the time to collaborate is now.” – Andre Boysen, CIO, SecureKey Technologies
Which industry, currently not on the blockchain bandwagon, is the most likely to discover blockchains in 2018?
“My assumption is about retail and next generation of payments/bank institutions.” – Alex Yakovlev, Head of decentralized solutions direction, NSD
“The semiconductor industry is most likely to discover blockchains in 2018. And the customized new hardware will greatly improve the efficiency of blockchain.” – Chen Honggang, Product Director, Peerfsafe
“Government services. Voting on the blockchain is such a powerful tool as it allows each voter to verify that their vote was counted correctly. Though this does not solve all problems with voting, it helps solve one of the most crucial problems and gaps with elections today, both large and small.” – Travin Keith, Founder, Agavon
Do you agree with these predictions? Why or why not, let us know on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Hyperledger. Regardless, we encourage all developers to join our efforts on Hyperledger projects. You can also email us with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.