Why Social Messaging Will Be a Key Pillar of Cryptocurrency Adoption
At this point it’s probably beyond safe to say that the cryptocurrency hype cycle has come full circle. With the industry’s extended bear market conditions, for more-or-less the entirety of of 2018 we’ve been in what’s called the “trough of disillusionment” according to the Gartner hype cycle graph, when the initial media hype and inflated expectations die off and the market shakes off all the failed and scammy projects, leaving the survivors to put their heads down and improve their products outside the media spotlight.
Away from all the marketing hyperbole, get-rich quick schemes, and frenzied speculation, truly dedicated teams are left alone in this phase to build (a.k.a. BUIDL) the next generation of cryptocurrency infrastructure, a crucial step in spurring adoption and getting us back to the bull.
Of course, this is much easier said than done. There are a number of much-discussed hurdles to mainstream cryptocurrency adoption: user experience, accessibility, liquidity, scalability, volatility, regulatory uncertainty, and merchant adoption/usability, just to name the obvious ones. Needless to say, there are teams all over the globe working every day to get the industry past each of these hurdles, from any number of angles and approaches.
One of these angles, and we believe a very promising one, is the integration of cryptocurrency management tools with already-existing social messaging platforms. Specifically, social messaging integrations can help address the first two adoption hurdles in the list above: user experience and accessibility.
What is social messaging?
Think Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, etc. Social messaging is the blurring of lines between what were previously thought of as two distinct platform categories: social media and instant messaging. These apps have evolved from simple communications channels to, for more and more of us, central hubs of our online social lives. Especially for younger generations, people are spending less and less time scrolling through infinite feeds and timelines, and more and more time texting in both one-on-one and group chats.
Ok, but why social messaging for cryptocurrency?
Well, the trend mentioned above for starters. Social messaging is booming, and has even been outpacing the growth of traditional social media platforms for a few years now. While Facebook is still the undisputed king of platforms in terms of total users, Messenger and WhatsApp have grown twice as fast this year.
Just take a look at the monthly active user statistics from the top social messaging apps in the world (all of which are growing):
- WhatsApp: 1.5+ Billion
- Messenger: 1.3+ Billion
- WeChat: 1.08 Billion
- Telegram: 200+ Million
- LINE: 200+ Million
- Zalo: 100+ Million
- KakaoTalk: 50+ Million
Much of this growth is taking place among younger generations and in developing nations, both of which are key demographics for the future of cryptocurrency adoption. The idea that younger generations prefer texting and group chats as their primary means of communication is such a truism that it’s reached meme status.
In developing markets, social channels like Facebook are often the primary gateway to the internet, not Google or the address bar. Furthermore, in regions like India and Africa, feature phones (aka dumb phones) are still very popular. While these mobile devices don’t offer all the bells and whistles of modern smartphones, they do have basic social media and messaging capabilities. Developing cryptocurrency solutions to work seamlessly with instant and SMS messaging can provide cryptocurrency access to billions of precisely those users who can benefit the most from low fee, trustless, intermediary-free, censorship-free financial inclusion. There’s been a lot of talk in the cryptocurrency industry about banking the unbanked, but what better way to reach this demographic than through the messaging systems they already use everyday?
Especially when we consider the broader effects of the ongoing global migration crisis, we can see how providing low-barrier-to-entry access to a truly borderless form of money can help the people who need it most. Currently, in order to send money home, people still rely on international money transfers (a.k.a. remittences), which often take days to arrive and carry prohibitively high transaction fees (as high as 20% in some cases). In 2011, Bill Gates remarked that, even if we could reduce remittance fees from 10% to 5%, that would still unlock an additional $15 billion for developing economies. With cryptocurrency, we can bring those fees down even lower, and make it more convenient and accessible than ever with social messaging integration. Other innovative mobile payment systems like M-Pesa in Africa bring a significant improvement over conventional remittances, but, unlike cryptocurrency, they’re still geographically and functionally limited.
An adoption boon
Given the fact that many social messaging platforms have reached a level of sophistication that goes far beyond the mere sending of text-based messages, opening themselves up to third-party developers, plugins, and bots, we can now integrate complex, secure cryptocurrency management tools directly into the already existing user flow. And considering that users only use about 9 apps per day on average, with a growing share of those apps being messaging based, imagine how powerful it could be to engage them directly within those environments where they’re already spending a majority of their screen time. Not to mention their friends, family, colleagues, clients, bosses, etc…most of the people they’d want to transact cryptocurrency with are already in those environments as well.
You can begin to see how such social messaging systems could be a boon to cryptocurrency use and adoption. Currently, cryptocurrency still has a massive user experience problem. Not only is it not easy to use for the average person, it’s often intimidating if not downright stressful to navigate cryptocurrency user interfaces and best practices, and making a newbie mistake is all too easy. Good luck memorizing your wallet address — if you want to send or receive cryptocurrency you have to go dig up that impossibly long string of characters somewhere. But what if you could transact directly with the contacts on your phone or on social media without ever asking for or sending a wallet address?
But all of this assumes that you can even get your hands on cryptocurrency to begin with. Accessibility is just as important if not more important than ease of use. The exchanges where you can go buy cryptocurrency depend on where you live and where your citizenship is based, and often come with clunky and difficult to navigate identity verification (KYC) requirements — and even that is assuming those websites aren’t blocked or censored where you live.
For those interested in getting started with cryptocurrency, there’s an almost endless supply of wallet solutions to choose from, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed with decision paralysis. But what if you had one wallet that you could access on the web, on Facebook, via SMS, on Telegram, on WhatsApp etc? And what if it was as easy to use as sending a text or tapping on a simple navigation menu? And you could buy and sell crypto right from those apps you already use every day? The choice would be made a lot more simple.
Lite.IM is working to make this vision a reality, making it easier than ever to get on board and use cryptocurrency for the average smartphone or dumbphone user, no matter where they live, which apps they use, or even if they have a reliable internet connection. With Lite.IM, there’s no need to download anything — no apps, no blockchains, you just send a message on one of the supported platforms and the Lite.IM bot guides you seamlessly through the account setup and usage steps in seconds. If you can text, you can use Lite.IM.
For a large portion of the world’s potential cryptocurrency users, a tool like Lite.IM can provide the perfect solution for daily cryptocurrency use and border-agnostic money transfers. We want as few barriers to adoption as possible, with a seamless, intuitive user experience and a secure, globally scalable infrastructure.
Want to try it for yourself? Just send any message to the Lite.IM bot on the platform of your choice:
Lite.IM currently supports BTC, ZTX, ETH, and LTC on the above platforms, but much more functionality is coming soon!
Stay tuned here and on Twitter to be among the first to know when we roll out support for additional currencies and platforms.