The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) Coronagraph Instrument (CGI) is a high-contrast imager and integral field spectrograph that will enable the study of exoplanets and circumstellar disks at visible wavelengths. Ground-based high-contrast instrumentation has fundamentally limited performance at small working angles, even under optimistic assumptions for 30m-class telescopes. There is a strong scientific driver for better performance, particularly at visible wavelengths. Future flagship mission concepts aim to image Earth analogues with visible light flux ratios of more than 10^10. CGI is a critical intermediate step toward that goal, with a predicted 10^8-9 flux ratio capability in the visible. CGI achieves this through improvements over current ground and space systems in several areas: (i) Hardware: space-qualified (TRL9) deformable mirrors, detectors, and coronagraphs, (ii) Algorithms: wavefront sensing and control; post-processing of integral field spectrograph, polarimetric, and extended object data, and (iii) Validation of telescope and instrument models at high accuracy and precision. This white paper, submitted to the 2018 NAS Exoplanet Science Strategy call, describes the status of key CGI technologies and presents ways in which performance is likely to evolve as the CGI design matures.