January marks the 12th anniversary of preventing Bitcoin generation. During this time, blockchain technology has made several important developments. Ethereum’s 2015 launch introduced smart contracts and coinage. In the following years, there were changes in areas such as transaction privacy with the launch of Zcash (ZEC), and platforms like EOS and Tezos in an effort to compete with Ethereum for expansion, and dozens of public issues were explored.
In particular, 2018 and 2019 have been difficult years. After Bitcoin plunged from its permanent highs in December 2017, it can be fair to say that the overall appetite for blockchain and cryptocurrencies has decreased significantly during the long winter of cryptocurrencies. However, there are still many innovations that are starting to show and paying off in 2020.
Several important topics have emerged this year that prepare to shape the blockchain landscape for 2021 and beyond. This is where Cointelegraph 2020 tracks the most important blockchain developments.
Platform and infrastructure development
Scalability, interoperability, and privacy were key topics in infrastructure development in 2020. Of course, scalability is already a long-standing topic in the blockchain debates. However, in previous years, the focus has been on new platforms that claim to be more scalable than Ethereum. In 2020, the focus on scalability has shifted to Ethereum itself – partly because the first phase of the Ethereum 2.0 update was finally launched towards the end of the year, but also because 2020 marks more important milestones for Ethereum’s second level platforms.
With the Eth2 project still at least two years away from full implementation, Tier 2 platforms will likely be successfully developed in 2021.
This year, cross-platform compatibility has been at the forefront of development. In early 2020, Syscoin and RSK were among the first platforms to launch a bridge that allowed developers to send tokens back and forth to the Ethereum blockchain. Others quickly followed suit: Solana, NEAR Protocol, and Ontology also launched their own solutions.
In other compatibility news, Polkadot launched the flagship network in May after years of development. Polkadot is a modern network that provides high bandwidth, just like the Eth2 target. However, the project focuses on the “heterogeneous segmentation” mechanism to ensure compliance.
While Eth2 only allows its own entries for connecting to a central beacon, Polkadot’s heterogeneous bits support any type of blockchain, allowing other platforms such as Bitcoin or Ethereum to communicate via bridges. Polkadot is already doing its job, conveniently positioning itself in the top 10 cryptocurrencies and generating significant interest from the DeFi developer community.
On the infrastructure front, interoperability has been the most important area for everyone in 2020. So, we can definitely expect to see more applications using this technology in 2021 and beyond.
Blockchain privacy is becoming more and more important
The ability to shop privately on the blockchain gained support this year with the launch of two privacy protection mechanisms. In January, Monero Triptych announced a new ring signature design that provides greater privacy by making it difficult for traps to discover real transactions. The trilogy launched in September.
Elsewhere, Aztec Protocol, Ethereum’s two-level privacy protection network, launched the network in February. In the first iteration, Aztec used Zcash technology to enable “secret codes” that mask the cost of transactions. However, Aztec released its version 2.0 in October, which does not use any knowledge updates in private smart contracts, which also increases the scalability of Ethereum.
Electric Coin, the operator of Zcash, announced in September that it is collaborating with the Ethereum Foundation to develop an open source “Halo 2”. It uses a variant of the extended non-knowledge proof used by the Aztecs. A joint study by Ethereum, Aztec, and Zcash is proven to accelerate the development of blockchain privacy for the benefit of users across all platforms.
Smooth user experience
The cryptocurrency and blockchain industries have been plagued by poor user experience. Finally, in 2020, some signs of newcomers are emerging over cryptocurrencies for individuals and institutions.
The most significant development of the user experience for the newcomers of retail cryptocurrency has undoubtedly been the news that PayPal is integrating the cryptocurrency.