Most crypto users know that crypto adoption is no longer a matter of if, but a of when. On the other hand, when could mean anything; it could mean the next decade, or it could mean the next fifty years. Thankfully, there are certain ways in which crypto’s adoption could be accelerated.
- Solving the energy problem;
- Making it easier to use;
- Creating products with better user functionality;
- Building products with functional supremacy over traditional finance.
The Road to Crypto Adoption
It’s important to remember that crypto can be difficult, or even intimidating to navigate. For the uninitiated, concepts like decentralization, DeFi, protocols, smart contracts, algorithmic stablecoins, and liquidity can seem daunting. For crypto adoption to even have a chance to go mainstream within the next decade, the industry has to first work to improve its ease of use and interfaces, demonstrate functional supremacy over Web 2.0, and finally, solve the energy problem.
Crypto could stand to learn a thing or two from the growth and adoption of the personal computer in the American market. At the time, despite many prescient people knowing that the computer and the internet would some day rule the world, there was no telling when. For all they knew, it could have happened anytime in the next fifty years.
Inevitably, computer companies reached a point where they had to carry out the unenviable task of actually creating clear utility for the computer. That may seem unbelievable in today’s world, but back then, companies had their work cut out to convince housewives that they could use computers to keep recipes. For those people, it would be hard to believe that now that’s probably the least important thing a household computer can be used for.
In any case, the adoption of the computer reached an astonishing crescendo. In the 13 years between 1982 and 1995, ownership of personal computers more than tripled, and by the year 2000, more than half of American households had a computer in them.
However, this growth didn’t happen in a vacuum. People didn’t just suddenly see the need to have an Apple II or any other of the 80s-era computers. Computers had to become better, they had to become easier to use, and people needed a better reason than “the computer can be used for recipes” to get one.
It will be the same with Web 3.0. While a lot of effort has gone into preaching the Web 3.0 gospel to convince people to buy into the idea early enough, as the growth of the computer, and basically, every other fringe technology has shown us, this system simply doesn’t work. People need to see a working product, and no amount of philosophizing about decentralization will prove as effective.
In a way, we are in the 80s of crypto adoption. There are already countries that have installed Bitcoin as a legal tender, and a YouGov poll revealed that 27% of U.S. residents support Bitcoin becoming a legal tender. The survey also shows that approximately 80% of young people, aged between 18 and 43, have a positive attitude toward Bitcoin. In essence, Bitcoin sits in the same position as personal computers in the late 70s.
What crypto is still waiting for, is its decade or two of explosive growth—but that kind growth doesn’t happen without undertaking a transformation from a generally accepted idea, to a product that is seen to work in practice.
Solving the Energy Problem
It’s somewhat fashionable for “crypto bros” to ignore the real energy implications that come hand in hand with crypto adoption. Like it or not though, this issue will not simply vanish. With fossil fuels dwindling and the world seeking out alternative energy sources, the future will be heavily energy conservative, and people will not look kindly on adopting a financial system with such a massive carbon footprint.
This means that crypto must find a way to solve its energy use problems before it’s too late, and that may eventually mean abandoning Proof Of Work (PoW) systems entirely in favor of moving to Proof Of Stake (POS) models. Although major networks like Ethereum have thankfully already begun that process, the future of crypto may just rest on how many chains can find a non-energy intensive way to run their consensus mechanisms.
Making It Easier to Use
One might argue that, given enough time, anyone can understand Web 3.0. While that is true, the average person typically doesn’t have the time to learn its multifaceted concepts, or doesn’t have the incentives to be willing to do so.
For example, although it takes a lot of time to learn how to play a game at a high level, people are willing to invest the time because it is also source of fun for them, and because of the sense of accomplishment that comes with it. The reward at the end and the process itself is the incentive to follow through on the steep learning curve. Crypto lacks a level of incentive serious enough for the general population to take it up.
In a way, many of today’s Web 3.0 products tend to rely on giveaways as incentives for adoption, but this is simply not sustainable in the long run. Products will not always be able to offer cash incentives to users, so while it may drive adoption today, it will not be able to do so forever.
So how can crypto bridge the knowledge gap? The best way would be to introduce people to crypto before they actually need to use a product. If someone already possesses a rudimentary understanding of how crypto works, the learning curve becomes dramatically more reasonable.
Unfortunately, reaching enough people is something that can only be fixed with time. It then becomes the job of stakeholders in the ecosystem to expand this class of people as quickly as possible, and in some ways, that is already being done. The Binance Superbowl ad is a good example of what it means to educate people about crypto on a massive scale, and it could be reasonably said that the future of crypto depends on how quickly and efficiently the ecosystem’s players can do that.
Creating Products with Better User Functionality
From a people perspective, the second biggest stumbling block on the road to mass crypto adoption lies in its generally awful interfaces. Web 3.0 products, almost by definition, have terrible UIs, which has the unfortunate side effect that the complexities involved in onboarding with crypto are simply too high for a great many people.
Before crypto can reach for mass adoption, the ability to confidently navigate the products in the market must be possible for even the most tech illiterate users. People are seldom worried about how to make a simple transfer through their normal banking apps, and rarely face obstacles when looking to request a loan through that same app. Crypto needs that same level of intuitive simplicity.
Too many Web 3.0 apps on the market are simply too difficult to navigate. MetaMask is one of the most popular Web 3.0 dApps out there, but even that has several UX issues. Broadly speaking, the app lacks an educational onboarding process, a proper feedback mechanism, and clear navigation pathing.
It is simply unrealistic to expect the masses to switch to the complicated design of Web 3.0 products compared to the more conventional and intuitive products they know and love. The good thing about this problem is that it’s solvable. Founders simply need to focus a bit more on the aesthetic aspects of their Web 3.0 products, rather than the engineering behind them.
Building Products with Functional Supremacy over Traditional Finance
In many ways, the entire Web 3.0 and crypto system is an invention of necessity. Bitcoin was created in the wake of the damage of the 2008 financial crisis, and continues to thrive because it is fundamentally more resilient than traditional finance.
However, there is a huge difference between being better in theory, and being better in practice. It is not enough for a single Web 3.0 product to be better than one counterpart traditional finance product. The whole ecosystem must be quantitatively better as well. This means that crypto must be an easier, safer, more secure, and more effective alternative to what it’s trying to replace. Without demonstrating a quantitative difference in practice, it will be hard to convince anyone to switch. After all, the vast majority of people aren’t ideologically tied to the products they use, but are rather bound by their utility.
If crypto products can demonstrate that utility as an ecosystem, a mainstream Web 3.0 could be here before we know it. However, if it can’t, we may end up having to wait a while longer.
On the Flipside
- While the learning curve for Web 3.0 may be steep, people overcome such processes all the time: the keyboard is a good example.
- Web 3.0 products may already have functional supremacy over traditional finance.
- People will eventually adapt to the current UI of Web 3.0 products.
Why You Should Care
It is within the best interests of those invested in the crypto ecosystem to see crypto adoption grow, as the expansion of the ecosystem as a whole will only serve to pay massive dividends to early adopters.
The adoption of crypto will also help such investors reap the real world functional benefits currently enjoyed on a larger scale. In a decentralized financial system, users will finally be truly free to control their own data and finances.