As we begin 2022, my mind is on the future of blockchains. In my role at Many Hands developing games to be interoperable with blockchain, I’ve spent the last year studying them, thinking about them, and designing with them in mind. Based on what I’ve learned, here are 10 predictions for the future of blockchains:
1) Most of the world’s consumer financial services will happen on a blockchain. This may come as a surprise to Americans or Europeans, but most humans around the world struggle to get access to a bank account and access bank services. It is not uncommon to pay significant fees to send money by Western Union, for example. Blockchains offer a low barrier to entry and much lower fees. Even poorer Americans will find operating cryptocurrency accounts are better than bank accounts (with ridiculous punitive fees) and buying things with credit cards (where VISA still takes a small % of every transaction and drives the price up on everything).
2) The chains that get used the most will be the ones with the quickest service times and lowest fees. Chains like Solana, Tezos, and WAX with transaction times at a second or less and fees of fractions of pennies will become the norm. Transaction times in minutes and fees in hundreds of dollars won’t be acceptable. Chains like Ethereum will adapt or fall out of favor with users. The only chain that will not be forced to conform is Bitcoin, because Bitcoin is a store of value and not fundamentally about utility.
3) Ethereum will implement Proof of Stake by the end of 2024. Miners and those with security concerns will resist the transition, but steady defection of projects and users to other chains over speed, price, and the environment will force the issue.
4) Concerns about the environment will end for most blockchains. Only Bitcoin will get away with the massive energy cost and carbon footprint of Proof of Work. For all other blockchains the pressure to move away from Proof of Work (for speed and cost reasons mentioned above in 2) to things like Proof of Stake or Proof of History will by their nature also remove their intensive energy use. Blockchains will use no more energy per transaction than is used to make a post on Twitter.
5) All web browsers will be web3 compatible — they will have blockchain readers and wallet integrations like Brave. Increasingly large numbers of websites will have built-in web3 components. Blockchain won’t be just for zealots, it will be an ordinary part of the internet.
6) Crypto purchasing over the web will overtake credit card purchasing by 2032. Lower fees than VISA will drive major commerce websites like Amazon, eBay and Walmart to accept crypto in order to maximize their bottom line. Once people get used to using crypto to make online purchases, and the infrastructure is standardized, it will not take long to migrate to the regular world. Square and applications like it will allow easy phone-to-phone payments using cryptocurrencies. PayPal and exchanges will be major players in the transition.
7) NFTs and blockchains will become the main tool that artists and photographers use to secure their work on the internet. When all web browsers can check the credentials of a picture on a website, it will become clear when photos have been stolen vs. when they originate from the verified author. Sites that consistently have stolen work will be blacklisted. The system won’t be perfect, especially at first, but it will be much better than the current world where people just steal whatever they want and put it in their clickbait articles or in their rip-off NFTs.
8) A bunch of fad NFTs from 2020–21 will lose all value. Some NFTs are Beanie Babies, sorry.
9) A bunch of NFTs with novel art or technology, NFT creations from famous artists and musicians, and NFTs with utility from 2020–21 will keep appreciating in value and be of historic interest. Some NFTs are 1909 baseball cards or Warhols, not sorry.
10) Major blockchains will become interoperable. There will be readers in Solidity and LIGO and whatever to import objects from Solana, Tezos, WAX, Ethereum, etc. There will be utilities on every major blockchain that people like and want to interoperate with their objects on a different chain. Teleporters (destroys an object and mints it somewhere else) will not be popular, while Avatars (reference to the movie, but just making a term up for using one token temporarily wrapped in another token on another chain to animate it) will be a thing.
What do you think? Which of these do you agree with? Which do you disagree with? What’s an important prediction that you think I’ve missed?
President, Many Hands SPC
Co-Creator, Verses TCG at Verses.gg
Jan 2, 2022