So a lot has changes since the last halving cycle in 2017. Tech has evolved, the industry has matured and the need is there. In 2021 we find a newly converted cashless, UBI-supported, jobless society on the brink of another financial and economic crash. Thanks to unchecked quantitive easing and stimulus leading to ever-increasing inflation rates and a widening wealth gap, it seems that government trust is waning, and both retail and institutional investors are now looking to non-soverign and uncorrelated assets to hedge their government-backed fiat exposure against and preserve their wealth.
Enter crypto! Birthed from the ashes of the 2008 financial crash, cryptocurrencies aimed to disrupt, decentralise and redefine our common understandings of value and money. Now a counter-cultural movement encompassing the worlds of Finance, Economics, Politics and Technology infused with Libertarian ideals, the crypto revolution is now on a warpath to decentralised every aspect of our digital world, from decentralised finance (DeFi) to decentralised media, decentralised applications, decentralised social networks and a decentralised internet...Web 3.0.
So what's in my bag?
Digital Gold. If you don't have at least a small portion of your capital held in Bitcoin ($BTC) in 2021, you should take a long hard look at your financial decisions.
Though some of those deep in the space may resent Bitcoin's dominance of the market, and questions why such a slow, expensive, first gen blockchain should reign supreme - it is clear that the network effect is too far gone, Bitcoin is here to stay.
It would seem that Ethereum ($ETH) has been running into scaling issues similar to that of Bitcoin's over the past few years, and many are tentatively looking to alternatives to sweep up some of it's market share.
Though gas fees are growing, the network is squeaking and ETH 2.0 could not come fast enough, Ethereum has well established itself as the defacto Defi/dApps/smart contract market leader, and is here to stay.
Cardano, and it's native token $ADA, seem to truly be encompassing the vision of a next generation blockchain. Embracing modern solutions like Proof of Stake and sidechains from the get go, the Cardano Foundation has been hard at work making sure their tech is buletproof before going live (evidently inspired by the apparent difficulties the Ethereum Foundation is having in their proposed ETH 2.0 upgrade next year).
With the Shelly Mainnet now live and smart contracts due later this year, Cardano is a one to watch in 2021!
The market leader in the oracle space, Chainlink ($LINK) is a middleware platform for live communication between blockchain. Quite uniquely in this space, Chainlink is very much a live network and is already fully adopted by some industry giants. It has proved itself a fantastic investment and as a hedge against cryptocurrencies and the DeFi space.
Polkadot & Kusama
Yet another Next-Gen Layer 1 blockchain vying for market share, Gavin Wood's Polkadot brings a lot of improvements over Ethereum such as Heterogeneous sharding, a new parachain / relay chain architecture, a well equipped public test-net (Kusama) and a well thought upgrade and governance model. A bet on Polkadot is a bet on a multi-chain future, and if that is the case then plenty of platforms will be buying up the native tokens DOT and KSM to bid in the parachain slot auctions later this year if they want to be some of the first projects to enter this new ecosystem.
The favourite of the dark web, Monero is the de facto privacy coin. Using technologies such as ring signature cryptography and stealth addresses, Monero's blockchain is fully opaque and it's transactions untraceable. While there are other coins bringing new privacy-centric features and technologies to the table, such as ZCash with zk-SNARKS, Komodo with Delayed Proof of Work, DASH with PrivateSend mixing and Verge with their TOR integration for TCP/IP layer obfuscation, Monero has yet to face any such requirement to undertake any major soft / hard forks of their code as their privacy and security remain uncompromised and so even it 2021 it holds it's place as the leading privacy coin.
Theta is a Content Delivery Network protocol designed to disrupt and decentralise the traditional client-server design of the web. By incentivising clients to pool available storage and bandwidth resources into a global network, Theta is establishing a video delivery mesh network capable of delivering any given video stream to viewers anywhere around the world. I see Theta seriously disrupting the CDN space (take note Fastly, Limelight and Akamai) and am keen to see it develop over time.
One of the early alts, since 2014 Filecoin has been incentivising clients to allocate their unused storage to create one of the worlds largest pools of file storage ever made. A decentralized storage system that aims to “store humanity's most important information.”, FIL has the potential to put a dent in the overpriced premium storage services offered by the likes of Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud.
London-based Quant ($QNT) look to be promising a lot with their enterprise-tailored interoperability-focused Overledger mainnet, which has just recently gone live. The Team have been keeping their cards close to their chest over the past year and their native token is still flying under the radar, but Quant will be one to watch.
Basic Attention Token
A long-time favourite, Basic Attention Token ($BAT) is a project looking to really ruffle some feathers at the offices of Google and Facebook. Already disrupting the online advertising industry, BAT promises more ad revenue to online sites while paying viewers for opting in. BAT, together with their partnet Brave Browser, is making waves and is a really fantastic project to support. And yes, skyenet.tech is already set up to support BAT donations.
Though as of writing Avalanche ($AVAX) is a very small player, it has the potential to establish itself as a market leader. A live network that is focusing on Ethereum interoperability, Avalanche is promising big things with it's Ethereum bridge and native Ethereum Virtual Machine support layer, and we may begin seeing a number of projects migrating across from Ethereum to Avalanche if gas fees continue to rise.
Binance is a major player that is here to stay, and for some time now they have been pushing more and more functionality onto their native token $BNB. This serves to drive up the price and value of their token, rewarding their long-time customers. I think BNB is a fantastic hold for the coming years as Binance continue to attract more and more newcomers to the market.