Thanks to Dawood Khan and Marc Lijour for their help with these predictions. 

A nation-wide digital identity service based on blockchain will launch in Canada. SecureKey’s Verfied.Me service was supposed to launch by the end of this year, so it’s overdue. But it’s been making announcements with major Canadian financial institutions and tech firms as it ramps up to provide a reliable way to prove your identity online for high value transactions, like applying for a mortgage or even renewing a passport. Since SecureKey already works with the Government of Canada, that partnership can be counted on for Verified.Me. Presumably, the last piece of the puzzle is a partnership with cellular carriers. Rogers, Bell, and Telus need to be on board to make it work. We’ll be watching to see if they make an agreement to move ahead.

I predict that there will be consolidation in the blockchain market. By the end of 2019, we’ll either have fewer blockchain platforms in real contention, or at least more blockchain platforms will find a way to be compatible with each other. This past couple of years saw many blockchain platforms introduced through Initial Coin Offerings. But too many proved to be pump and dump schemes, ruining the market’s appetite for this approach. Expect blockchain platforms like Ethereum and Hyperledger to continue to become more popular in the enterprise and be in a strong position by the end of the year. Their open source nature means that it’s just that much easier for different industry players to pick them up and develop with them. Hyperledger is already supported by IBM, Intel, and SAP, and these vendors will have a lot of incentive to maintain interoperability.

Regulation of blockchain and related tokens will become a topic of conversation in Canada at the federal level. In 2018, there were hundreds of investigations into initial coin offerings conducted by The North American Securities Administrators Association as part of operation Cryptosweep. According to a report from The Logic, regulators in Ontario and Quebec have each only approved one ICO since 2017. That’s a problem considering how popular this form of crowdfunding was in the past year. Expect pressure to form from two different perspectives: securities regulators will need to create a legal pathway to allow for innovation; and a mechanism to identify and penalize fraudulent ICO schemes.

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