A research analyst at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) sees cryptocurrency, blockchain technology and decentralization as a potential $10 trillion ecosystem.
In a new report released Wednesday, Mitch Steves, an equities analyst with RBC's Capital Markets subsidiary, laid out his bull case for why the future of transactional services will ultimately be decentralized. "While the cryptocurrency space has many risks, the opportunity appears vast with constant technology updates," he wrote.
Though startups that enable cryptocurrency protocols to serve as decentralized alternatives to proprietary services or as a means of transmitting remittances have garnered the most interest throughout the ecosystem's formative years, Steves argues that the protocol layer (on which these services will be built) is where most of the value will be realized.
"We see that the protocol layer will capture more value than the applications," he wrote, adding:
"As the application becomes successful, the protocol layer captures more value, which then creates more interest in additional decentralized application development."
As such, the comments echo the fat protocol theory put forward by Union Square Ventures, which states value creation on decentralized cryptocurrencies will occur at the lower infrastructure layers.
The report also asserts that the market for cryptocurrency mining is here to stay, arguing that there currently exists an at least $4.2 billion market for bitcoin mining equipment with an additional $350-$450 million for other ASIC-mined cryptocurrencies like bitcoin cash and another $1.9 billion market for GPU-mined coins like ethereum and monero.
Notably, the report argues that decentralized technology in its current state is misunderstood and underrated, claiming that cryptocurrencies are becoming better able to handle an increasing number of transactions. In particular, Steves sees the Lightning Network as a tool to enable more than a million transactions per second on bitcoin.
Still, scalability, along with government intervention and the creation of more sophisticated wallet hacking techniques, was identified as one of the key risks facing the ecosystem.
Continued progress on these fronts, however, will be a boon for the development and mainstream adoption of a global supercomputer, whether it be ethereum-based or on an alternative, provided that blockchain’s impeccable security record remains spotless, Steves said.
“As scaling and protocols mature, the value of a decentralized world computer could potentially become a multi-trillion dollar industry,” Steves wrote, concluding: "If there’s one positive technology item we can agree on, it’s that the blockchain has never been hacked. What happens if we build on top of this secure layer?"
Royal Bank of Canada image via BalkansCat / Shutterstock