Top 10 Blockchain Projects to Watch for in 2020

The hype hormones of Blockchain's adolescence have finally mellowed. Its destiny swung wildly between ICOs and enterprise adoption back in 2017-18. But 2019 has confirmed the maturation of the blockchain space: no more useless ICOs, and way more industry use cases.

Out of thousands of active blockchain ventures, 10 projects in particular stand out. Some broaden the scope of blockchain technology. When blockchain can do more, potential use cases skyrocket.

Some make a foothold in an industry lacking mass blockchain adoption. History tells us that the first mover advantage is critical for companies utilizing new tech.

Undoubtedly, there are other exciting blockchain projects that deserve time in the spotlight. But for now, we examine only the stars of the show. Below is the list, ranked  in descending order by likelihood to revolutionize their relevant industries.

1. Echo

Echo is a sidechain platform and smart contract protocol designed to work with Bitcoin. It uses decentralized consensus based on VRF and BFT. Developers can build DeFi with other networks or virtual machines (ie. EVM, x64). 

Notably, Echo did not raise capital via ICO because its entire infrastructure and protocol already exists. But Echo has bigger and better plans. Echo wants to develop the DKG/threshold approach for the bitcoin sidechain; hence, their partnership with RSK. 

With this partnership, Echo is one step closer to becoming the “Bitcoin App Layer.” They envision developers using their infrastructure to create next-generation financial applications where a user’s privacy and freedom are protected. 

2. VeChain

VeChain brings the tracking power of blockchain to the real world via its in-house blockchain system, called “VeChain Thor.” Businesses can track products in their supply chain via VeChain Identity (VID) technology. VIDs come from a SHA256 hash function, can be infused into physical QR, RFID, or NFC tags, and uniquely identify any product.  

As far as transaction validation is concerned, VeChain uses PoA across 110 master nodes. Security is reinforced by a DPRP. VeChain uses its own tokens (VEN) as gas to facilitate smart contract execution

The world is taking note of VeChain’s potential. On June 25th, Walmart China announced that VeChain will track a significant portion of their food supply chain.

3. Qtum

Qtum is a DApp Development Platform. It leverages the robustness of the Bitcoin blockchain and the security of UTXO…all the while enabling virtual machines (EVM, x86). The fact that it is PoS based and has a DGP enables developers to change blockchain settings such as block size without hard forking the repository. We can thank smart contracts for that. 

Qtum is compatible with existing blockchain technology, but decouples applications from the foundational protocol via their Account Abstraction Layer (AAL). This means Qtum can perform efficiently while keeping the door open to greater Ethereum smart contract usage in the near future. Qtum might just be the gateway to mass adoption of decentralized tech on smartphones.

4. Libra

Backed by payment giants Visa, PayPal, and MasterCard, Libra is Facebook’s attempt to reshape the global financial system. The new currency will be the Libra token, a stablecoin protected by baskets of currencies and US Treasury Securities. Along with a new currency is a new programming language, called “Move.” Move’s relationship to Libra is similar to Solidity’s relationship with Ethereum. Developers will use these Move-based smart contracts to create Libra assets. Move is also purported to more secure than Solidity. 

When you think of governance, think “Libra Association.” It makes all decisions for the platform via a two-thirds vote. And that’s hard coded into the protocol. Association members include partnering venture capital firms, blockchain companies, non-profits, E-commerce companies, and more. 

On the one hand,  Libra does cut out middlemen like banks from money transfers, and could accelerate global adoption of blockchain technology. On the other hand, its audacity is not without concern. US regulators fear its capacity to assist in money laundering and fraud…without Uncle Sam’s approval, Libra could fade into obscurity. 

5. Voatz

Voatz uses the Hyperledger blockchain framework to solve democratic inefficiencies: election insecurity and low voter turnout. Currently, voters who cannot physically be at the polls have to mail in complicated paper ballots. Now they can just use their smartphones.

Voatz employs a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 32 validating nodes (cloud based or bare metal) on their permissioned network. In the future, Voatz envisions the United States Secretary of State or an independent election watchdog deciding who exactly the key stakeholders are, so they become official verifiers on the network. 

At the start of an election, each candidate’s profile has “potential vote” tokens associated with it. They are rearranged and become real, counted votes as the voters make decisions. Should a phone be suspected of having malware on it, that vote will not count. 

Voatz has been used in local Colorado elections and at Tufts University. If adopted on a national scale, American voter turnout could rise above its current 50% average, due in part to difficulties associated with getting to physical polling locations. More votes could mean a different outcome on election day. And with mounting concerns over election security, Voatz’s secure system is poised for widespread adoption in the near future.

6. reConsortia

reConsortia is a star blockchain project. They use their patent pending title token to track all real estate relationships connected to a property, such as referrals, taxes, and property records. This is best accomplished with a distributed ledger system for the trust and security factors. Real Estate agents must be sure that all property information is untampered with, and trust that transactions will be faithfully facilitated by the relevant parties. 

reConsortia was chosen for an accelerator run by Second Century Ventures, the VC arm of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The fact that a traditionally slow-moving industry is showing interest in blockchain property tech is a testament to how influential blockchain can be in any brand of real estate – residential, commercial, industrial, land, you name it. 

7. Robinhood Crypto

Robinhood became a tech unicorn for offering commission-free investing in traditional assets to the masses. Over the past couple of years, it has slowly expanded the number of states on its crypto list; as of today, it offers 4 types of crypto in 30 states.

The crypto-savvy commentator may question why Robinhood does not let users manage their wallet addresses. “Not your keys, not your crypto,” right?

Sure. But Robinhood’s target audience doesn’t include those who would care and that’s ok. Its sins are far outweighed by what Robinhood ultimately contributes to the crypto world: a legitimization of cryptocurrency alongside regular stocks and options. Normalizing the crypto economy in the eyes of regular investors could mean a brand new wave of interest in decentralized currency.

8. Cambridge Blockchain

Data privacy is a buzzword these days. Tough new regulations faced by the largest financial institutions cost them around $500 million annually. Cambridge Blockchain saves them money and protects consumer privacy with blockchain-based identity management and data compliance software.

The Cambridge platform uses smart contracts to release data on a need-to-know basis. Users must sacrifice anonymity for access to the permissioned blockchain, but their personal data is only shared with trusted parties. Each participating enterprise is a node with cryptographic code tailored to associated KYC and AML compliance requirements. 

Their technology is so promising that it earned PayPal’s first ever investment in a blockchain project.

9. Shivom

Shivom aims to be the future of health tech. Ultimately, they want researchers and pharmaceutical companies to have easy access to people’s genomic data. They believe greater access to this data will help create advanced and personalized medicines. Shivom also champions patient privacy and data security – hence, their usage of the Ethereum blockchain.

If all goes according to plan, Shivom will democratize health data ownership, increase the availability of DNA ownership, and better the healthcare industry. That’s why Shivom is one of the top blockchain projects of 2019.

10. Quasa

Quasa makes the list of innovative blockchain projects because it could change the seascape of the shipping industry, which has long suffered from a disconnect between its physical and digital domains. The heart of Quasa’s technology is the QUASAcoin token. It’s used to execute smart contracts for tracking deals, shipments, and cargo deliveries between multiple parties. 

Quasa is the culmination of collaboration from prominent logistics organizations across the world. In an industry devoid of blockchain, Quasa has lots of space to grow. 

Conclusion

The revolutionary capacity of blockchain is often compared to the Internet. But what people miss is how those capacities manifest themselves. The Internet is the boisterous, smiling, in-your-face technology anyone can understand. Blockchain works best behind the scenes. Blockchain is the quiet genius, the taciturn toiler, the hushed architect of technological advancement. For those reasons its press coverage is often spotty, and at worst, inaccurate. We at PixelPlex want to educate the world – its developer and non-technical populations alike – about this wonderful technology and how the top blockchain projects will influence the course of human technology. 

By Andrew McGahren, a passionate author who writes about the intersection of tech and business.

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