When cryptocurrency shot to our attention with the launch of bitcoin in 2009, it was met with a mixed reception. Some people believed that it was the finance of the future. Others thought that it was just a fad – a digital unicorn for those with more money than sense.

Whichever side of the fence you fall on, there’s no doubt that cryptocurrency – bit by bit(coin) – is edging closer to the mainstream. Although still far from conventional, virtual currencies are becoming increasingly popular, particularly amongst speculative investors. In fact, a study by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) has estimated that there are at least 3 million people actively trading in cryptocurrency today!

So, what does the future of digital assets look like? We’re taking a look at some of the biggest cryptocurrency trends set to shape the industry in 2020.

The Rise of Altcoins and Online Casinos

At least for now, bitcoin is the biggest – and most well-known – cryptocurrency. But it’s not the only digital asset out there. Altcoins are alternatives to bitcoin which rely on their own blockchain infrastructure (basically time-stamped‘blocks’ of recorded data) to carry out transactions. The market today is seeing many altcoins enter circulation, including Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Monero and Tron Coin (TRX).

TRX is currently one of the highest performing altcoins on the internet. But what is Tron Coin? Unlike currencies such as bitcoin, Tron Coin mainly caters to the entertainment industry, particularly online casinos and mobile apps. With an increasing number of casinos accepting bets in Tron Coin – and its final development stage, ‘Eternity’, due to be released in 2020 – it’s clear that altcoins will be expanding the scope of cryptocurrency this year.

Halving of the Bitcoin

Expected to occur in the week of 18th May 2020, bitcoin halving (sometimes referred to as ‘halvening’) is an event which will halve the reward for mining new blocks. This means that for each verified transaction, bitcoin miners will receive just 50% of the current rate.

This won’t be the first time that halving has occurred. In fact, it’s scheduled to happen every 210,000 blocks, until the maximum 21 million bitcoins have been generated by the network. This works out to approximately once every four years – but four years is a long time when bitcoin itself is only 11. Although it’s designed to regulate inflation, the event will inevitably have other consequences too, making it much more expensive to trade. We’re therefore going to see an upwards trend in the price of bitcoin throughout the second half of 2020.

Facebook to Launch Libra

In June 2019, Facebook made the controversial announcement that it will be launching its own cryptocurrency named Libra. The news was met with alarm by those who feared the social media site is already dangerously influential – however, others have praised Libra’s ‘stablecoin’ model, which will theoretically make it less volatile than currencies such as bitcoin.

Whether Libra is a resounding success or fails to live up to its hype, it’s raised some difficult conversations. Many people believe that the prime benefit of cryptocurrency is the fact it’s decentralised from the government, making them sceptical of Libra’s corporate governing body (a Swiss foundation comprised of Facebook, Uber, Visaand other major stakeholders).

Politicians in Australia, India and the majority of European countries – most notably France, Italy, Germany and the UK – have spoken out against the practicality and ethics of Facebook’s currency. This political backlash has crystallised into calls to introduce more stringent restrictions not only on Libra, but other digital assets too. As a result, 2020 is likely to set a trend of increased regulation and sanctions on cryptocurrency trading.

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