Community Update — December 14, 2018
What does “smart contracts for everyone” mean?
We’ve been hearing a lot of discussion that is already aligned with our plan — questions like whether we’ll make it through the current “crypto winter” and how we’re addressing the uncertainty about future demand for crypto products. I just wanted to take a quick opportunity to highlight how we’re thinking about these issues and make sure our communication is clear.
“Real” Businesses — Ensuring
A lot of the design and “next steps” feedback we’re focused on has come from networking with non-crypto businesses. This is essential to our strategy and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. The idea here is that to have real adoption, the underlying technology and solutions must add value to the economy, not merely move it around in hype bubbles.
As you can imagine, this means a focus on discussions with groups that have immediate applications — consider how staking models could change insurance, lending and other forms of reputation or risk management; how instant low-cost transfers could aid international remittances and banking; how trustees, lawyers and representatives can delegate their responsibility to simple value-storing confirmation systems; how high-stakes environments, auditors and controllers can benefit from the consistent and immutable audit log produced by a public blockchain.
But also imagine the next steps: how real estate and property registries could benefit from non-censorship, how a marketing team or game developer could issue fungible tokens and allow user-friendly decentralized exchange; how supply chain management can benefit from tractability of exchange; and how even musicians, photographers and software developers may benefit from measurable and auditable transfer of intellectual property.
There are many challenges to overcome for these use cases — computation costs, value fluctuations and stablecoins, the oracle problem, usability concerns just to name a few — but it is important to us that we’re constantly searching, understanding and applying how the pitch of blockchain and cryptocurrency resonates with busy business professionals.
“Real” Users — Addressing UX Challenges
Along the same lines, it is completely unreasonable to ask a banker or marketer to deal with the overwhelming domain expertise necessary to utilize current smart contract applications. This means patterns to make secure key management easy, solutions for managing computational considerations like gas and transaction costs, education material and careful language selection, and, consistent user-facing reviews that identify sticking points and sources of confusion.
Often, this will mean hiding features away in “advanced” menus or using slightly different language to address complex crypto products. It means things like abstracting notions of cryptocurrency in certain contexts — understanding the user who is too busy operating their marketing company to worry about what the value of Ethereum is today. Broadly, it is all the other little UX tricks and techniques we’ve picked up through these user reviews, casual conversations, business meetings and experimental iterations.