Takeaways from Berlin Blockchain Week 2019

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berlin blockchain week
Credit: Anastasia Dulgier

A thriving ecosystem

Like many others in the industry, Figment enjoyed a great week in Berlin, connecting with various stakeholders and soaking in the enthusiasm of a rapidly evolving decentralized community. Such events definitely cement Berlin’s position as a top crypto hub in the world as it hosted most major builders and investors, not only from Europe but from all over the world.

The energy we encountered during our trip signaled that we are headed in the right direction as an industry, with user adoption dominating the discussions. We want to thank Web3 Summit and Devcon for hosting great events that served to showcase the progress to date and helped identify the challenges to come next.

As we debrief, the major theme that emerges is the vast number of new layer 1 and layer 2 solutions launching in the next six months that will aim to solve current scalability issues and provide real-world utility to the blockchain ecosystem. Though, to properly launch, those networks will need to ensure a minimum degree of decentralization and security. We are thus seeing a hunt for qualified validators, which will have a wide array of projects to choose from, increasing the need for projects to reach out early and think about their economics as they build the platform.

The hunt for professional validators

For any developer, validator, or investor, Berlin was the perfect stage for all the new projects we should be keeping an eye out for. Dozens of networks presented their vision for their upcoming launch and fortunately (or unfortunately for those that like to sleep), many of them are expected to go live at the same time. Multiple testnets will be launching between mid-September and October, requiring a lot of preparation from teams interested in their offering.

Games of Stakes are coming

At the same time, those networks will be competing for the same validators’ attention as they will be key to a successful launch after battle-testing various testnets offered to them. What started as a unique approach to testnets with Game of Stakes by Cosmos has now become standard for PoS networks looking to attract validators. To only name a few, Oasis, Celo, Skale, Solana and Kusama will be running similar competitions almost simultaneously, forcing many smaller validators to choose which they will support based on available resources. The time in Berlin was definitely good as it helped those projects understand how validators would approach the evaluation and selection going forward.

Competing for attention

We could qualify this situation as a hunt for validators. And to get the best, projects are now going to teams much earlier than before. Professional validators are now obtaining access to code and to network economics before any testnet is available to the community. We can almost draw parallels with the early SAFT era when privileged investors would get in on the ground floor, before the sale was announced to the world. At Figment, we are excited to be able to work with high profile projects early on in their development and help them structure a thriving staking ecosystem from the beginning. Hopefully, it will push more teams to professionalize and support those networks early on in the lifespan.

Use case focused

Already today, we can count hundreds of blockchains fighting for the same developer mindshare. It would be easy to brush off the upcoming crop of prominent networks going live in the upcoming months. We are excited to support many of them because compared to their “ancestors”, these new contenders are launching with specific use cases they are looking to tackle, instead of having a capture-all approach. Although many of those teams have yet to illustrate a clear go-to-market strategy, specialization and focus should help them differentiate from the get-go.

All about privacy and stability

In our opinion, two main verticals stole the show during the week. Privacy-focused networks and natively-embedded stablecoins should be a major part of every crypto investor’s knowledge base heading into 2020. On the privacy front, Oasis, NuCypher, Enigma and Keep are leading the charge, all tackling challenges previously impossible to solve on traditional blockchains such as data anonymity and storage. In the case of stablecoin networks, high profile projects such as Celo, Terra, Kava, and xDai are all looking to bring functional payment networks and DeFi opportunities to mainstream users across multiple continents.

Focus on security

We are often asked: What is the future of staking? Many argue that financial derivates are the next step. In the months leading to Berlin Blockchain Week, we’ve noticed a lot of talk around financial derivatives on top of staking networks but we believe they are still far out. Networks have to mature first and validators will have to focus on maintaining resilient infrastructure while specializing in each network before they will have to worry about such products. At Figment, we are committed to improving the security of the network while solving the various challenges our delegates face, like tax issues and custody.

Events like Web3 Summit and DappCon definitely help us reaffirm our conviction in this industry. With so much talent now specializing and focusing on solving real-world challenges, we are definitely excited to be operating at the ground floor of the next blockchain generation. Professional validators should be excited to have so many networks to choose from and on which they can make a valuable impact.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for feedback on Telegram or via our website if you are in the early stages of designing your staking mechanisms and economics. We will also be happy to provide token holders with in-depth research leading to the various mainnet launch. We look forward to attending Blockchain Berlin Week next year and we will be present at San Francisco Blockchain Week in late October.

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