Every year new innovations unlocked by technology seem to spring up faster and faster. However, this year’s pandemic has accelerated technology in a way we haven’t seen before. It forced businesses to change the way they operate and adopt digital transformation faster than previously experienced. With more technologies evolving to change the way we do function personally and professionally, there is a lot at stake in 2021 as the world collectively looks to rebound from 2020’s economic impact.
In this article, various trends and companies were selected based on current momentum seen in 2020, potential for major disruption in 2021, and a clear need in a defined market. Keep an eye on these trends in the coming year as they have the potential to go mainstream and further capitalize on both macro and micro economic trends.
1. Digital Banking Platforms
Recently out of stealth, fintech company Zytara is building a digital banking platform and payment network geared towards Millennials, Gen Z gamers, and esports enthusiasts, promoting financial inclusion and literacy among demographics long overlooked by the traditional sector. Led by technology veteran and founder of Console Connect Al Burgio, Zytara boasts a stellar advisory board, featuring former UBS bank CTO and Merrill Lynch Chief Technology Architect Andy Brown, as well as former Goldman Sachs VP of Investment Banking, and top-ranked esports player Moritz-Lentz.
2. Digital Wallets
New Zealand-based software company Sylo, which provided its Smart Wallet to allow users to pay with Bitcoin at over 2,000 Coca-Cola vending machines earlier this year, has just launched an uber-fast backend solution called Oya. Oya will make Sylo’s decentralized messenger run on par with its centralized rivals, but without collecting user data. The company has also integrated the Tezos blockchain into its wallet to avoid high fluctuating network fees, unreliable APIs, compatibility issues, and legacy support for older features. Sylo already has over 350,000 users in 80 countries and aims to get to the 1 million mark in 2021.
3. Cross-Chain Communication
Cross-chain communication has been a significant hurdle to mass adoption. In a recent survey by the European Economic Area, members including JP Morgan, Microsoft and Standard Chartered Bank identified interoperability as the top takeaway. This problem is being tackled by the ambitious team at KardiaChain, an exciting new blockchain project with revolutionary innovation, the “Dual Node.” A novel invention with patent-pending that offers “integration without assimilation,” a description that would attract blockchain experts if actualized because it could be the most crucial breakthrough for enterprise adoption since the development of Ethereum itself. This month, their mainnet will go live, marking a significant milestone for the blockchain company pushing mass adoption in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
4. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Robotic Process Automation is an under the radar tech trend that you need to watch out for. RPA involves the use of software to automate business processes like processing transactions, interpreting applications, replying to emails, dealing with data, and more. RPA automates repetitive tasks to ensure that mistakes are avoided and processes are optimized. SE Logistics has focused on this technology to help clients with their planning. SE Logistics uses various technologies to ensure process analysis, optimization, inventory optimization, and more. SE is also exploring the use of robotics in drones to handle fragile packages and other innovative use cases.
5. Contactless Multi-Currency Digital Payment
Technology is changing the banking and financial sector more rapidly than you can imagine. Thanks to neobanks, people now have access to financial services from the comfort of their homes. Contactless digital banking makes it possible for people to enjoy banking services in various parts of the world. Quppy is a great example of a company providing contactless all-in-one financial solutions that consolidate accounts, cards, and services within one app. Quppy allows people globally to open an IBAN in Euro and GDP in just 5-10 minutes, all for free. The platform will issue cards for EU citizens and residents in Q1 2021 and for customers from other regions later in 2021.
6. Conversational AI
The global Conversational AI Market is expected to grow to $13.9 Billion by 2025. Major players and SMBs are turning to conversational AI: they are adopting chatbots for customer service, investing in conversational marketing, using voice commerce, and launching voice games and custom voice assistants. CAI projects are diverse and comprise a variety of roles, from chatbot developers to computational linguist, and require diverse solutions. One of the few players who cover all aspects of this trend is Just AI, which develops customizable СAI tools and technologies catering to a wide range of needs, including a low-code chatbot builder to a powerful enterprise-scale Conversational AI platform and voice-controlled games. Just AI creates complex Conversational AI projects for banking, insurance, retail, telco, and other verticals, while boasting deep technical partnerships with Google, Yandex, Alexa, etc.
7. #iGDeFi (iGaming DeFi)
The iGaming industry is expected to hit nearly $70 billion in 2021. Within the iGaming industry is a new decentralized sub-industry called iGDeFi, which combines important elements of decentralized finance, blockchain, and iGaming. The company that pioneered this, Royale, was built by gaming executives and blockchain entrepreneurs. The company leverages Provably Fair algorithms that use blockchain technology to ensure games are not skewed in favor of the operator. Largely an untapped market, blockchain and iGaming are a perfect match due to the immutable and transparent benefits that blockchain offers. For Royale, community will also be a key factor as they DeFi powered liquidity combined with a self-governed protocol DAO will give power to various iGaming professionals using the platform. Royale is scheduled to launch on December 21st with a busy roadmap planned for 2021.
Prior to COVID-19, the average cost of a honeymoon for newlyweds was around $5,400 (2017). That's a big drain on the bank after planning a wedding. That's why entrepreneurial couple Sara and Josh Margulis pitched Honeyfund to ABC’s “Shark Tank,” where they won a deal with shark Kevin O’Leary. Honeyfund’s acts like a wedding registry crossed with a crowdfunding website. Couples can raise money for their honeymoon or other financial goals like a down payment on a home, donations to a specific charity, or money for the wedding itself. Once users sign up and sync their bank account, friends and family can begin sending money directly to the recipients, with a personalized note. The service has helped more than a million couples raise over $640 million for their honeymoons.
9. Bioskills & Telehealth
Given the pandemic, it makes sense for medtech and telehealth to be an absolute priority moving into 2021. In March, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that video-streaming technologies like Zoom could be used without violating HIPAA laws. For the past 11 months, serial entrepreneur Jon Fisher and CrowdOptic, have provided bioskills functionality to hospitals and institutions with National Bioskills Laboratories (NBL). CrowdOptic’s Live Connect technology in tandem with NBL’s bioskills facilities, allows for remote attendees, such as medical students, physicians, and trainers to stream into surgeries as they are happening in real-time, as well as engaging in simulcast training. The tech has already been integrated into a number of reputable collegiate institutions, including Stanford University’s Medical School.
10. Cybersecurity and ORM
Whether we are talking about COVID-19 forcing the world to go digital, or a brutal election season for the U.S., there’s no question that online reputation management is an absolute must over the next 5-10 years, as the internet continues to grow and laws surrounding how social media is governed come into being. Already the fastest-growing reputation management firm in the U.S., NetReputation incorporates its recently acquired asset, InternetReputation’s depth of technology and talent into its powerful, award-winning ORM services platform, helping to strengthen the company’s robust suite of online reputation solutions for individuals and businesses.
11. Advanced DeFi Protocols
DeFi exploded in 2020 and currently has claimed over $15 billion in total value locked. This includes funds used for providing liquidity, farming, and other incentivized DeFi activities. Moving into 2021, more protocols will be built focusing on end to end solutions for traders and casual users. One example is Fire Protocol, a robust protocol built on Huobi’s Eco Chain that helps onboard hundreds of digital assets to the Huobi ecosystem using cross-chain solutions. Fire Protocol combines trading, lending and borrowing into one integrated platform, enhancing liquidity and improving liquidation. For traders, Fire Protocol has built out a decentralized exchange, named FireSwap, and offers the chance to vote build governance through its native token (FIRE). The protocols of the future will soon come to fruition in 2021.
Disclaimer: This post is informational in nature and does not constitute financial advice. Please consult your financial advisor before investing in any cryptocurrencies or exploring new technologies as they could be volatile and pose risks for the average investor. The writer is a user or could have a personal relationship with some of the companies mentioned.
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