For an industry that's notorious for dramatic price fluctuations, the 2018 bear run didn't come as a surprise.
Almost every other coin shed some value as their prices plummeted. For some investors, the downturn revived debate on the long-term viability of the industry.
Yet for others, 2018 was a great time to buy in when the prices were down. While the current bear run seems to have discouraged some investors, it's worth noting that a good portion of investors, like ourselves, see plenty of value still.
Amidst price volatility, some coins are proving to be potentially valuable after showing strong signs of resilience.
But with so many altcoins and upcoming ICOs, most coins are banking on the strength of their underlying technology or their unique use cases to stand out.
To kick off the year, we'd like to evaluate a few standout projects that will move when the market goes up and also reduce our risk if it slides down further.
We've gleaned through tons of coins to see their roadmap and upcoming developments and we've come up with a solid list for the near future.
ADA is the cryptocurrency token that fuels the Cardano blockchain, a project that runs smart contracts for decentralized applications. It's built to have separate layers, one for the ADA exchange and another for the smart contracts.
Its founder, Charles Hoskinson, is one of the original founders of Ethereum, the pioneering smart contracts protocol.
Like most cryptocurrencies, ADA's price wasn't spared by the great bear run of 2018 as it dramatically fell to a low of $0.042 as of writing, down from $0.718 recorded in January 2018.
Despite the price fall, ADA is one of the few cryptocoins with a solid, publicly accessible roadmap for 2019.
Unlike with most coins, ADA's founder is constantly sharing updates with the community and we like that a lot.
Some of the upcoming developments include an improvement to Byron, their bootstrap phase, which is means to improve their wallet backend and other various bugs.
As of writing, ADA users are mostly limited to the Daedalus desktop wallet or the Yoroi, a light wallet.
It's worth mentioning that using the desktop wallet is a hassle for most users as they have to download the entire blockchain. This year we expect to see a light wallet support option for the Daedulus wallet as well as a ledger wallet support.
According to a Coin Telegraph report, various corporations, companies and at least one government, are implementing a Cardano project. These include the government of Ethiopia, which is reportedly implementing a Cardano program in its agritech sector.
Overall, such developments are expected to turn the tide for ADA as it's roadmap comes to fruition.
BNB coin, an ERC20 standard token is fully integrated into the Binance exchange. As Binance is one of the most popular exchanges out there, it drives greater adoption of BNB, whose purpose is to pay for transaction fees on the exchange.
This doesn't make BNB the only means of paying for transaction fees. In fact, Binance gives users an incentive in the form of 50% rebates when they pay their fees using BNB in their first year of membership.
The rebates decrease over time as well.
Since its launch in 2017, the Binance exchange has signed up millions of users who enjoy its low transaction fees.
The exchange doesn't charge any fee when it comes to funding an account. However, any trading attracts a minimal fee of 0.1%. Other factors that have contributed to the growth of the exchange and that of its token include; a super fast matching engine that can handle up to 1.4 million trades per second, high liquidity and an intuitive user interface.
The fact that the exchange also lists tons of altcoins means that you can easily trade small amounts of coins without worrying about liquidity.
Other than using BNB coin to pay part of transaction fees, users can also trade it for any other coins. So that only increases the usage.
Because it's only limited to the Binance exchange, its unlikely that BNB will gain mainstream adoption any time soon though.
With a circulating supply of 200 million tokens and rebates in place, the price of BNB should go down with time.
But to keep the price high, they burn a percentage of the coins collected as rebates.
In the end, their plan is to have a total supply of only 100 million tokens. This way, they believe that the tokens will be valuable as time goes by.
With a market downturn playing out for the better part of 2018, BNB was among the few coins that showed resilience.
The key reason for this is the solid incentive model that Binance provides users. Plus, the platform blew up last year in terms of popularity.
In essence, traders tend to hold BNB tokens instead of dollars. Initially selling at $0.1 a piece, its price shot to a high of $27 in 2017. It's now trading at $6.50, mirroring the overall depreciation of the altcoin market.
On another angle, the Binance team recently announced it was launching its own blockchain in the foreseeable future and this could play a significant role in aiding the price recovery of BNB as more investors gain confidence in the token.
The announcement was followed by the launch of a demo video of Binance's decentralized exchange that was uploaded in December 2018. It made the price of the token to move from $5 to $6.62 within hours.
If these developments are positively embraced by the Binance community, BNB could very easily push itself into the top 10.
When it comes to commercial-scale decentralized applications, EOS has etched its name in the industry because of its unmatched qualities.
These include; zero transaction fees, decentralization and the possibility to handle 100,000 transactions per second.
Its main goal is to provide a decentralized platform where users can host applications, run smart contracts and use the blockchain for business operations with outstanding speeds.
EOS seeks to overcome the scalability challenge that continues to challenge pioneering blockchain projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
EOS raised an impressive $700 million in its ICO, a testament of the massive support it receives from its fans. It broke into the top 10 very easily to say the least.
So, what makes EOS stand out in this list?
First, it seems to be highly scalable compared to Ethereum, its more established rival. Even with its high transaction speeds, EOS is yet to be tested at scale.
As far as building decentralized applications goes, many more developers are thinking of EOS because of the low-cost of deploying DApps.
You only need to stake some EOS coins to begin development of a DApp.
Its selling point is, once you've staked your coins, you will get them back when you're done with the DApp. By most standards, this is an attractive model compared to most other smart contract platforms which charge developers to run smart contracts.
However, it's important to note that the demand for tokens induced by developers will barely be enough to move the markets.
Despite its hype, it fell victim of the 2018 downturn, shedding 90% of its value last year.
During that time, a notable project launched on the network was Everipedia, an EOS based wiki project.
Other recent news from a major exchange, Huobi, was that it said it's launching an EOS based exchange this year.
Sitting at the price of $2.50 as of writing, EOS might have fallen in value from its peak of $21, and we don't know if it'll reach those heights again this year but there's certainly hype still building.
Bitcoin is not on this list because of it's technology. Yes, it has the world strongest blockchain but it's on here because of it's brand appeal to the masses.
If you know think of Kleenex as Tissue, then the common person thinks of bitcoin and then cryptocurrencies.
A piece of BTC fetched $37 in 2013 in the MtGox exchange. By December 2017, one BTC was commanding a price of $20,000 so that will grab people's attention easily.
From the peak of 2017, BTC has since shed its price to stand at $3,563 as of this writing.
Bitcoin keeps its value when markets come tumbling down, a quality that sets it apart from other coins which oscillate between both extremes of lowest and highest prices within minutes. The converse is also true.
When markets roar, it takes time before BTC gains much value, compared to smaller altcoins whose prices shoot fast.
This in itself makes BTC more of a store of value than a means of payment.
I don't think there's need to talk more on why this coin is technically the safest of all.
The Ripple network seeks to replace the SWIFT payment network. It's aiming to be the premier global payments system.
Since 2013, Ripple has been a top performer in the industry. In 2017 for instance, it gained 36,000% in value.
Although it has shed most of its value in the 2018 market downturn, it still retains some value and is selling at $0.319 as of writing.
Its year on year growth is attributed to its vibrant marketing team that leaves nothing to chance.
Like most other cryptocurrency projects, Ripple's purpose was to scale blockchain transactions, an objective that it has so far achieved. Its software can comfortably handle 1500 transactions per second, rivalling that of Visa that stands at 1700 transactions per second.
RippleNet, Ripples global payment network aims to increase liquidity and to lower transactions fees.
This is why RippleNet is roping in major payment gateways as it seeks to become the world's most efficient payments system.
With over 100 RippleNet partners including major global financial institutions like MoneyGram, SWIFT, and American Express, we are seeing it evolving into one of the most successful blockchain projects in coming years.
However, one polarizing issue around this project is that it's centralized, a fact that doesn't sit well with the proponents of blockchain and decentralization.
XRP, Ripple's native cryptocurrency looks likely to gain value when the network attains widespread adoption.
With the ongoing partnerships, this is likely.
As with most cryptocurrency projects, Ripples roadmap doesn't seem to be publicly available for scrutiny, although we can easily see the team is keen on signing more partnership deals in 2019 as it seems to build a strong network that can easily handle global volume.
In the meantime, XRP's star continues to shine. Recently, Ripple was turned into a base currency for Binance.
Like BTC, Ethereum is fairly well known in the public. It's got the brand power of Bitcoin, although I still don't believe quite as strong.
Because of its mission of providing developers with the necessary tools to build DApps, it's a favorite for institutional investors.
Like Bitcoin, ETH has an Exchange Traded Note targeting institutional investors. Its ETN is already being sold by an Amsterdam based trader, and there are plans for an ETH futures.
As the first blockchain project to run smart contracts, the Ethereum brand is like the cousin of Bitcoin. Faster and people made a lot of returns last year from it.
It has also inspired the creation of tens of similar projects running on smart contracts.
Despite its many great features though, Ethereum suffers from scalability issues, just like BTC. At 15 transactions per second, its marginally faster than Bitcoin, but doesn't fit the bill of a daily payment processor.
Major updates like Constantinople, a hard fork scheduled will help shape ETHs future a little clearer for us.
Other updates include the introduction of the Casper protocol and Sharding, slated for the second half of 2019.
The next update, perhaps the most significant, is dubbed Serenity. It requires a new blockchain and is meant to move Ethereum from a PoW to a PoS protocol.
At the end of the day, ETH needs to make it's developments faster before the tides change even more.