This article was published on January 3, 2019

TNW Answers’ best cryptocurrency and blockchain insights from 2018

Decentralized experts have given us plenty of hot takes

TNW Answers’ best cryptocurrency and blockchain insights from 2018
David Canellis
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David Canellis

David is a tech journalist who loves old-school adventure games, techno and the Beastie Boys. He's currently on the finance beat. David is a tech journalist who loves old-school adventure games, techno and the Beastie Boys. He's currently on the finance beat.

Blockchain is brand new technology. Not only is it mostly untested, but the implications and use-cases of distributed ledger technology still aren’t fully realized, let alone understood.

With our regular TNW Answers sessions, we’ve given leaders and disruptors of decentralized tech a platform to discuss and explore the bleeding-edge of the industry.

A series of prominent figures in blockchain have answered the questions of a curious cryptocurrency community in 2018, including Ripple Labs’ David Schwartz and long-serving cryptocurrency guru and Bitcoin engineer Jameson Lopp.

Here are some of the highlights, just so you’re up to scratch before we head into a fresh year of TNW Answers.

Ripple Labs CTO confirms Bitcoin stash

David Schwartz is the chief technology officer at Ripple Labs, the decentralized tech firm behind the XRP token.

When he sat down with TNW to let the public ask what they wanted, Schwartz revealed he feels the cryptocurrency market is certainly big enough for at least a few different cryptocurrencies to succeed.

“We expect that this will not be a winner take all outcome but instead a number of digital assets can survive for specific use cases,” he said. “Today, for example, Ethereum provides a ‘programmable money’ function that the XRP Ledger cannot. Adding this capability to the XRP Ledger would have huge costs that reduce XRP’s suitability for payments. You can’t have everything.”

Schwartz noted that while XRP provides certain cost-saving payment features, it does not support programmable behavior like smart contracts. To which effect, Schwartz doesn’t see XRP being the “only digital asset any time soon, if ever.”

He then implored the industry to band together as one to survive the bear market. Keep in mind, this TNW Answers session took place in August, when the price of Bitcoin began breaking below $7,000.

“[Distributed ledger technology] is genuinely a breakthrough and I too hold some [Bitcoin]. If nothing else, the current market mechanics are telling us that we’re all in this together and I don’t think one crypto [sic] project can become successful by pulling others down,” Schwartz wrote.

Click here to find out what else Schwartz was asked, including his favorite soda.

We learned the warning signs of cryptocurrency addiction

Scotland’s Castle Craig Hospital made waves in May, when it became the first of its kind to offer treatment for cryptocurrency traders looking to gain control over their digital currency trading afflictions.

TNW Answers later invited experts from Castle Craig to help break down how their therapy works, giving insight into how obsessive cryptocurrency trading compares to problem gambling.

“What distinguishes [cryptocurrency] trading from other gambling are it’s volatility, sense of mystery and excitement and the large sums of money that can be made or lost, plus the ability to do it 24/7,” explained therapist Chris Burn. “These are all factors that are appealing to a compulsive gambler.”

According to Burn, these are signs of being addicted to trading digital currencies:

  • Spending a great deal of time on the activity of trading in cryptocurrency, checking prices and thinking about the activity – so that other occupations such as work, socialising and exercize do not get done.
  • Debts and financial problems
  • Lying to friends and family about one’s activities/problems
  • Mood swings, feelings of hopelessness and depression
  • Anxiety, leading to physical symptoms such as sweating and tremors
  • Unrealistic views such as being ‘lucky’, chasing losses
  • Attempting to control activity without success.

You can read the rest of their insights into cryptocurrency trading addiction here.

Quantum computing could be coming for your Bitcoin

A certain presence looms over the blockchain industry: quantum computing, super-fast computers thought to be one day capable of undermining the cryptographic principles utilized by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

When blockchain developer Jameson Lopp joined TNW Answers earlier in the year, he was prudently asked how the advent of quantum computing could affect the future viability of today’s digital assets.

While Lopp maintained the issue of quantum computing will have “far-reaching effects” beyond just the blockchain space, that is only under the assumption that general quantum computing ends up becoming reality.

“As is the nature with cryptography in general, we often have years of lead time to forsee that certain operations are degrading in their computational security,” wrote Lopp. “It’s unlikely that general quantum computing will just appear overnight and take everyone by surprise, thus it’s safe to assume that any security aspects of crypto asset network protocols will get upgraded before a quantum computer can simply take over the network.”

In any case, Lopp affirmed cryptocurrencies generally have a long way to go before non-cryptocurrency related businesses adopt digital money like Bitcoin. One day, though, the consumer demand may convince mainstream enterprises to integrate with the Internet of Money.

“Eventually; we have plenty of security and scalability issues to address before I think we’ll see mass adoption from a consumer standpoint,” stated Lopp. “The network effect will hopefully grow to the point that, much like with credit cards, businesses will lose revenue if they don’t add support.”

Check back with TNW Answers in the New Year for more interesting sessions like these, as the blockchain industry looks to find the mature footing required to keep building.

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