Welcome to 2019, the year cryptocurrencies die. Or was that supposed to happen in 2018? These types of bad predictions are commonplace this time of year. It's not surprising, though. This is a notoriously difficult industry when it comes to foreseeing what's ahead. From the highs of 2017 to extreme volatility of 2018, from regulatory action around the world to increasing adoption among institutional players, it's been a wild ride.
But predictions are how I built my crypto business and the bet that I took four years ago on where the space would be was the key to my success. And while I have big predictions for the long-term future of crypto, let's look at what's ahead in 2019.
Price Prediction? Sure, Why Not
It's what everyone wants: a price prediction. Throughout the fourth quarter of 2018, we've been consistent in our conviction that bitcoin will continue to trade in a $3K-$5K range for at least the first half of 2019. Globally, volume remains low and we're watching for signs of more investors coming back into the market. Longer term, we see significant value in BTC. It's gaining increasingly widespread adoption and is only now moving into real-world applications like payments. This is all part of the process for a technology that's still in its infancy. Give it a few years and I can say, with confidence, that bitcoin will be far more valuable than it is now.
Emerging Markets Lead the Way
This is the story that no one is talking about — crypto makes sense for emerging markets in a way the developed world doesn't understand. Here in Brazil, we continue to see widespread adoption of bitcoin and increasing volume. In a recent interview, crypto expert Andreas Antonopoulos said, "One of the other important things we saw in 2018 was the impact that cryptocurrency had in some of the emerging markets where they've had capital controls and currency crises — specifically Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, and Turkey. So even while the general market of cryptocurrency reduced its volumes, in those countries volumes more than quadrupled through 2018." I couldn't have said it better myself. Look for this trend to continue into 2019.
Crypto Legitimacy Plows Ahead
Each week, there is a new press release or a headline: "Financial Institution X Offers New Crypto Solution." Just a few are here, here, and here. Despite what the skeptics say, crypto has a real future and we're seeing signs of it as institutions make bets on its legitimacy and regulators weigh in on how to make for a safer and more transparent marketplace. Look at it this way: even as pundits claimed that BTC was headed to zero in 2018, institutional interest only increased throughout the year. A word of caution here, though: while I support legitimacy and transparency for crypto markets, it's important that regulations continue to support a free and open marketplace. Cryptocurrencies should impact those who benefit most from the structural advantages of digital assets, such as people who have been shut out of traditional financial institutions for various reasons.
If you think cryptocurrencies are in the midst of a death march or just beginning to take off, 2019 will be a big year. After a boom, and something of a bust, the trends I mentioned above will continue to push crypto's viability forward.
Rodrigo Marques is founder and CEO of Atlas Quantum.
This article first appeared in IBTimes US.