As Bitcoin’s (BTC) price continues to climb ever higher, more and more people are beginning to educate themselves on how they can enter the cryptocurrency market. However, the realities of cryptocurrency ownership (long complicated addresses, passphrases and security risks) all remain barriers to adoption for new users. Programmers and technologists generally assume a level of understanding and ability with tech innovations that the average person on the street simply is not equipped with.
A survey carried out by our team saw 75% of respondents say they found cryptocurrency transactions stressful and unnecessarily complicated. A majority (55%) said they had had trouble in the past sending cryptocurrency transactions, 18% had lost funds, and 6% had suffered a man-in-the-middle attack. These complexities have real and damaging consequences even among technologically savvy elites; one programmer I know lost tens of thousands of dollars because a QR-code had been corrupted and his savings were lost forever. Highly qualified engineers and developers have lost millions due to misplacing files, losing passphrases or simply miscopying a 34-character address.
For any financial system to fully function, users need to have faith in its foundations. It is no coincidence that the word “credit” derives from the Latin “credere” which means “to believe.” The architects of any financial ecosystem, whether they be central bankers in Frankfurt or software developers in Silicon Valley, need to ensure that people trust where they are placing their money. Only by creating a secure environment and collective confidence of a broader user base will blockchain technology be able to deliver on its founding promises.
For example, crypto addresses could become self-sovereign nonfungible tokens that work with every token and every blockchain. Requests, which are decentralized payment requests, are privately encrypted between the two parties involved and include contextual metadata about the transaction, such as a memo or a link to an order or invoice.
The path for crypto
People often forget that university professors have been using the internet to send emails to each other since the 1970s, but the systems and protocols were too complicated back then for the average person to use. The World Wide Web as we know it today wasn’t accessible until the creation of HTTP. Blockchain technology is today at the same exciting place as the internet was before HTTP made it usable for the average person to build on. The blockchain ecosystem today needs to design easy-to-use protocols that can deliver what HTTP delivered for the internet in the 1990s: a user experience through browsers and the World Wide Web leading to mass adoption.
Developers should aim to make the experience of sending cryptocurrencies as simple as sending fiat with PayPal. It’s not hard to see why the average person on the street struggles with cryptocurrency, as the current systems are very confusing, but it’s only by bringing in more users that blockchain technology will gain more credibility.
The potential for blockchain to transform the way people and businesses interact is clear, but the infrastructure and systems in place have a long way to go. The last 25 years have shown how information and value can be shared and transferred in ways that were inconceivable just a few decades ago; however, the dynamic flow of information and data can only fulfil its potential when any person can use it.
Current naming systems built on blockchains are simply too complex for the average person to use. Few people know or care how Amazon and Netflix are integrated onto the internet, but they do know that it works — that’s the direction this industry needs to head toward.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Luke Stokes is the managing director at the Foundation for Interwallet Operability. He’s passionate about voluntary systems of governance and has been involved in Bitcoin since early 2013. He’s been a consensus witness for the Hive (previously Steem) blockchain since early 2018 and a custodian for eosDAC, a community-owned EOSIO Block Producer and DAC Enabler, since its inception. He holds a computer science degree from the University of Pennsylvania.