So much has been written about Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency world beyond it that it’s easy to forget just how new it all is. This is partially because the rampant speculative trading of Bitcoin (and the bubble that formed around it) made it come across to many as a fad — something that would burn brightly for a short while and then flame out, never to be seen again.

But that image has never been accurate. When you frame it correctly as a developing prospect with long-term significance, you immediately realise that it’s still in its infancy. It will be years before cryptocurrency — along with the blockchain technology that was developed to serve as its foundation — achieves its full potential in the global market.

Each passing year, though, sees more steps taken along that destined path. Consequently, it’s fascinating to consider where cryptocurrency will go within the next 12 months. Let’s take a look at 5 trends that can reasonably be expected to prove significant as we head into 2020:

Increased regulation

While the core appeal of the cryptocurrency concept was achieving the freedom and security of decentralization, it was never realistic that it could become a worldwide practicality without any form of governmental oversight. This may frustrate some, but it doesn’t come close to defeating the purpose — regulated cryptocurrency still holds some major advantages.

In recent years, we’ve seen regulatory bodies make early efforts to figure out this new approach to finance, and the pace is starting to pick up: in the US, for instance, the Senate Banking Committee continues to hold relevant hearings (at the time of writing, the next was scheduled for July 30th). In Europe, meanwhile, the European Banking Authority recommended at the start of 2019 that the EU consider adapting existing laws to ensure that cryptocurrencies are covered.

Big companies entering the fray

The mainstream viability of cryptocurrency as an everyday option has been gestating for some time. Even as awareness of Bitcoin rose dramatically, it wasn’t really considered something to be used on a daily basis — and while ecommerce giant Shopify announced Bitcoin integration for its store-hosting system all the way back in 2013, the industry-wide accessibility that followed didn’t change the wild fluctuations in value that still make Bitcoin more useful as an investment.

But with the technology maturing, we’re going to see massive companies jostling for position in the cryptocurrency world, trying to make their coins the most popular. In many ways, Facebook fired the first shot in announcing Libra, and it’s already attracting more interest than all other cryptocurrencies barring Bitcoin. Get ready to see other huge businesses following suit.  

Automated trading

Cryptocurrency operates exclusively in the cloud. This is useful for various reasons, but it has the added benefit (well, it’s a benefit for some) of readily supporting the implementation of automated systems (and even machine learning algorithms) for everything from financial management to risky trading.

The banking world has been moving in this direction for a long time (with companies even paying huge sums for superlative internet connections to fractionally speed up their trades), so online-only cryptocurrency only adds to the options. Hooked up to a cryptocurrency marketplace, a trading bot like the one available through Zignaly can either follow your explicit instructions or use provided signals.

More demand for training

Just as the rise of AI has made relevant skills important for aspiring professionals, the escalating significance of cryptocurrency has steadily picked up interest, to the extent that even those who initially scoffed at Bitcoin have come to accept that a working knowledge of blockchain technology is valuable (and may eventually become near-mandatory).

Because of this, we can expect to see more cryptocurrency training courses and tuition services coming to the fore throughout 2020, all accompanying the expanding pool of blockchain events and conferences being held across the world. If you have an advanced understanding of cryptocurrency, now is the time to start capitalizing upon it.

Stabilized currency value

You may have read about stablecoins, the digital coins that stabilize cryptocurrencies by tying them to items of traditional real-world value (fiat currencies, for instance, or even standards such as gold). They’re of vital importance in the long run because the extraordinary speculative fluctuations of Bitcoin make it unsuitable for daily tasks such as buying groceries.

If cryptocurrencies are going to compete with traditional currencies, they need to retain their value in a very consistent way, and the best way to do this is to secure them to tangible assets. What we may eventually see is a settled selection of cryptocurrencies, with some viable for regular trading use and others better suited to investors — and if Facebook plays its cards well, its Libra currency will have an early shot at being that stable currency.

The cryptocurrency world is in its maturation stage, struggling to shake off the awkwardness of the Bitcoin bubble and attempting to show that it’s ready to be taken seriously. In the coming year, expect to see each of these trends solidified — and keep a close eye on Libra. With Facebook’s reach, it could be a game-changer.