The Cryptocurrency Mass Adoption Challenge
Within our history we have experienced some radical revolutions in the money industry; let’s briefly recall at least the 2 previous major ones:
In the 16th century there was a radical preposition to replace gold with gold certificates written on paper, physical notes that we carry in our wallets everyday… this idea was so radical that it took 400 years until it became broadly deployed in the mainstream society.
The next one, was in 1950’s and that was with the introduction of cards (debit and credit); and with debit/credit cards people were told that the pieces of paper that had the government seal on them, are now to be replaced with pieces of plastic that have a company and a number on them. Even this idea was radical and it took 50 years for it to hit mainstream.
We are now using digital money, as we get paid via direct deposit and all our transfers and transactions are done using digital systems. All these interactions are literally just 1’s and 0’s on computers, there’s nothing physical related to them anymore. The main problem that we are facing today is that all these transactions and transferring money across borders and across currencies is really expensive and creates friction.
The future of money is programmable, when we combine software and currency, money becomes more than just a static unit of value and we don’t have to rely on institutions or any other intermediaries.
This invention from 2009, launched a completely new era and it’s called bitcoin. It’s an invention that takes an obscure branch of mathematics called cryptography, which is the art of secret writing using math. And this obscure branch of mathematics is applied into the domain of establishing trust between the participants of the system, without giving anyone control over the system. This unique property is what makes bitcoin special.
Cryptocurrency is peer to peer, which is very important, as our traditional financial systems have now become peer - to corporation - to corporation - to peer. Everyone takes a little cut; everyone adds their own power to the system and they take great advantage of that. What’s the end result? Billions of people who have no access to the banking system, billions of people who don’t have a bank account as many of them don’t have even ID. This is an end result to the fact that we have centralized our money.
This era has changed because of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies; for the first time in human history, people everywhere can trust each other and trasact peer to peer; and trust is established, not by some big institution, but by collaboration, by crytography and by smart coding.
In my generation and that is with the introduction of the internet, many people who have grown with the internet even today still fundamentally misunderstand why the internet is special. They look at the internet as a way of publishing, as a system of content. What is different about the internet is that for the first time ever it enabled a global freedom for the flow of information. Free-flow of information to anyone in the world who had the capability to connect to the internet. It gives you the power of information without restrictions. That is the magic of the internet!
Anyone can say , speak , read anything without control, without a license, without a diploma, without a qualification, without a certificate, without identity and without censorship; and for my generation and the generations that follow this is normal.
What bitcoin does, is that it creates the exact same circumstances in the category of money, as it enables the free-flow of money and trust and value, all across the world.
Where are we now? Is it too early?
The notion of cryptocurrencies is relatively new, whereas the market represented by crypto is limited to a relatively small community of people who have specific interest in this technology. The number of cryptocurrency-related services offered on the market today is vast, but for the entry-level user navigating within this diversity is very difficult.
The market is there, no doubt about it, but what about timing? Nobody wants to be the next AskJeeves, Webvan, Pets.com or LoudCloud.
Facebook, did not happen earlier (even though there were many attempts for building social networks) because it didn’t have enough density of adoption. You didn’t have mobile devices that were permanently connected; you didn’t have home-based internet that is constantly on, and these are only some of the facts.
I often say that where cryptocurrencies and the other open blockchain technologies are today is approximately where the internet was in 1992, in terms of technology, in terms of infrastructure deployments, in terms of adoption patterns. This technology is definitely where the internet was in 1992, but the hype of crypto and blockchain technologies is around the hype of the internet in 1998.
We have identified the problems: there’s not enough liquidity, there’s not enough users to grow the adoption, the user interfaces are terrible, the applications (DAPPs) are still at their infant stages, the ease of use/the user-friendliness is not there, the fluctuations/price volatility/speculation undermines the possibility of using them as a value storage.
What we need now is Visionary Entrepreneurs and Hackers, because these people have the mindset optimized for discovery, they have a mind that’s optimized for figuring out what’s possible. Visionary Entrepreneurs and Hackers look at other people’s problems and see them as opportunities.
Applying this mindset on the current velocity of how fast things are evolving is the key to solving the mass adoption challenge.