What scares off normal people from using Dapps?
I recently organised my leaving drink using BlockParty Blockchain Dapp. For those of you who are not familiar with the dapp, it’s a simple smart contract with the following rules.
You pay small deposit when you RSVP. You lose your deposit if you do not turn up. You will get your deposit back + we split the deposit of whom did not turn up. You go to party and may end up getting more money.
Though about half of my colleagues are in tech, not all of them know much about crypto nor blockchain (I worked at an insurance company). Of the about 100 people in our London office, probably about 5 people have used Metamask to register my Dapp through my monthly Ethereum Study group. Because most of them have no Ether, I deployed the smart contract into Rinkeby testnet where Ether has no financial values. To supplement that, I promised them to give Kudo$h points which is our internal reward system where you can give credits to your colleague to thank their works and helps and that can be converted into various points like Amazon vouchers.
This experience is mostly based on using Cipher Browser, one of the state of the art Ethereum mobile wallets, though most points apply to other mobile wallets such as LETH, Status.im, Trust Wallet, Toshi, etc.
Scary point 1: The fear of the word “Blockchain”
This is the initial email I sent out to my colleagues.
After sending out this email, I received a confused email saying that she cannot RSVP when she clicked the link (because Metamask is not installed on her browser). One of my colleagues who have used BlockParty before kindly replied back to her with step by step guide.
However, this seemed scared off people even more. A couple of my colleagues came to my desks saying that they will come to my leaving drinks but they won’t try BlockParty because it looks too complex.
So what can I do? To make it look a lot easier, I took a video walk through (which took around 10 min) then edited down to 5 min video so that people can easily follow. This is my second email attempt.
After sending this out, one of my colleagues told me that he has no time to watch a video. Alright, now you really made me serious. I went through the video again, take the screen shot of each step, then embedded these images in the email as a guide (which turned into a separate blog post).
Probably people are more familiar with downloading an app than installing Chrome extension. At this point, 2~3 people managed to install by themselves, but it was still not enough. It was already the lunch time of the day of my leaving drink. So I decided to recruit people directly. While eating lunch at our kitchen I asked if they are coming to my leaving drink and when they say yes, I grabbed their phones and started doing it together.
Scary point 2: The seed words
When people see these recovery phrase, the first reaction was “WTF?” I explained that it is almost like password but you cannot reset and once you share it with other people you will lose all the money. A couple of people were swearing when the next steps asked them to type each word to prove they wrote down the seed phrases.
(Warning: Don’t use the seed on the screenshot above, obviously).
I later found out that I can skip the verification process so I told them to just take screenshot but never lose it.
Scary point 3: Rinkeby, Ropsten, Kovan
Most of my colleagues did understand that this is for test purpose, but had no idea what each test networks are nor why they have multiple of them.
Scary point 3: Double confirmation.
When clicking RSVP button, the separate pop up come up to confirm if it has correct sender, receiver and an amount to send with GasFee, etc.
These information all make sense if you are already familiar with MetaMask or MEW/MyCrypto but it will be very alien to the majority of people. Even worse some of the device was too small to display the entire configs that “Approve” button was not visible until you scroll down. Probably transaction amount and gas estimate will be enough to display (and also need explanation what they mean).
So are Dapps still too scary for non crypto people? There are some part where it put smile on my colleagues.
Aha! moment 1: The money!
Even though I repeatedly told them that this is a test Ether with no financial value, it feels good to see the wallet balance jump up.
Sending Ether was relatively easy when I was sitting right next to my colleagues as I was able to scan their code. It became slightly tedious to do so when I had to give Ether to people who were not around though these two people managed to copy and send their 0x… Ether address through slack message. It will be a great on wallet boarding process if each wallet allow users to pick their own ENS subdomain such as
makoto.cipherbrowser.eth or even
makoto.cipherbrowser.com when DNS on ENS becomes reality. It will be a great marketing tool for wallet providers as each user will market your brand, just like how hotmail spread like wildfire back in the early days of internet.
Aha! moment 2: QR Code
When I was hosting BlockParty in the past, check in process was a bit of nightmare as I had to check in each participant manually either via laptop or with pen and paper, either of which are cumbersome and very error prone. Thanks to Cipher Browser ‘s scanning QR code API, now it is possible to just scan participant’s address
Of course it is still possible to fake participant’s account by loading someone else’s Ether address into their wallet. If I want to make the check in process more robust, I can ask users to sign a signature with event address as a message and turn that into QR code.
Though mobile wallets are improving dApp user experiences massively, some of the jargons and crypto specific processes are very foreign to most users.
Lastly , but not least, thank you very much for all my lovely colleagues who were brave enough to try out my Dapp and also turn up to my leaving drink!!