What a year it's been for Bitcoin.
The cryptocurrency has continued to soar from lows of $778 in January 2017 to record highs of more than $17,000 on Dec. 12.
As we move forward into 2018, there are a number of Bitcoin developments worth monitoring, not all of them having to do with just its price.
Perry Woodin, CEO of Node40, a blockchain governance and cryptocurrency tax compliance company based in New York, believes 2018 will be the year of mass public awareness for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general. "It is going to be the year when every friend and relative will want to know how much you have and how to purchase it. The topic of Bitcoin is going to be the ultimate water-cooler conversation," says Woodin.
Here are some top expert's predictions for what will happen with Bitcoin in the coming year.
1. Taxation will be a huge issue.
it is important to be aware of the tax issues and how to report gains accurately to the Internal Revenue Service. Next year, we will see more on what Bitcoin millionaires (and billionaires) will have to report their gains due to the IRS clamping down.
2. The number of cryptocurrency adopters will rise.
No doubt there will be a rise in the number of people using cryptocurrencies. Yonatan Sela, SVP business development of PROPS by YouNow, which uses blockchain to build a media ecosystem, estimates that by the end of 2018, we'll see over 50 million people worldwide holding at least one cryptocurrency. "My hope is that Bitcoin will continue to maintain value as a form of digital gold, and the promise of digital cash will be fulfilled by Dash," says Node40's Woodin, referring to a popular crypto-currency.
3. Bitcoin develops into a payment network.
Trevor Koverko, CEO of Polymath which specializes in cryptocurrency technology believes we are going to see Bitcoin emerge as a full-fledged payment network. "Currently Bitcoin is being used as a speculative asset and store of value. But as scaling solutions like the Lightning Network emerge, Bitcoin's utility dramatically increase along with its price. The real question is, will it be the bitcoin 'main chain' that has the courage to adopt these upgrades, or will it be another chain like Bitcoin Cash?" says Koverko.
4. Investors will diversify their crypto assets.
Most investors will become aware that besides Bitcoin, there is Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash and IOTA. Mark Lurie, CEO of Biddable says that for investors, there is going to be a strong move toward diversifying crypto-assets and managing investments the same way that investors look at more traditional assets and investing.
5. Interest from institutional investors will increase.
Mike Poutre, CEO of The Crypto Company, believes that 2018 will be the year that institutional investors enter the cryptocurrency industry.
"Less volatility in Bitcoin will allow continued expansion in alternative cryptocurrencies. We will also see the rise of securities tokens in response to increased regulation. Conservatively, I predict the entire industry will reach a market cap of $5 trillion by the end" of 2018," says Poutre.
"There will be a lot more institutional capital that will all go to the highest quality projects. That's what happened during the financial crisis with venture capital and growth equity rounds, too. Most companies could not raise any funds, but those that could...did it at really high valuations. Even though it was in the middle of the financial crisis, there was a capital flight to quality," adds Lurie.
6. Expect to see more regulation.
As Bitcoin booms, regulation will first come to ICOs before moving on to cryptocurrencies directly. However, it is difficult to now predict if regulation will have a positive or negative impact on the industry.
Dmitry Zhulin, co-founder of INS Ecosystem says, "Bitcoin is expected to further [rise] to approximately $30,000-$40,000 in 2018 based on its convenience and further adoption as a means of payment and capital preservation. Despite an increase in regulation in the crypto space, I believe that blockchain as a technology will not be hindered by heavy regulation."
It looks like 2018 could be another action-packed year for Bitcoin and crypto currencies.
More of What's Trending on TheStreet: