The internet wasn’t always as simple as typing a few words into a highly-optimized search engine before millions of results conveniently appear in front of you. When it first emerged, it was complex. In fact, the first usable prototype of the Internet, which was funded by the US Department of Defense, came in the 1960s and allowed multiple computers to communicate on one single network, computers which were each the size of a small house.
Computers and the internet have come a very long way since their early iterations, to become extremely user-friendly. This is typically the trajectory for most complex technologies. They evolve over time, some more quickly than others, to be easily used by the masses. When Bitcoin first came along in 2009, there was very little information available about it. Many did not understand it, let alone how to execute a blockchain node. Today, there is abundant information about the technology as well as how to interact with it. However, many people are still afraid of it – and why wouldn’t anybody be? The technology is complicated and intimidating.
But this will all likely change in the future. As the demand for crypto and blockchain-related technology implementation continues to skyrocket, their usability will follow suit.
The power of the blockchain lies in its immutability and irreversibility; but this leaves little room for error for individuals who may end up sending funds to someone in error (by simply mistyping one letter in an address that is 34+ characters long). It can happen and it is not reversible. This is why the industry will need to come up with a better way for individuals to transact with one another. Just as internet users never need to see or remember IP addresses, the same must happen for public addresses on the blockchain. The goal is to get sending money just as simple as it is on services like PayPal.
Although apps like Coinbase and Robinhood are doing a reasonably good job at making the UX experience less painful for those looking to enter the crypto space, there needs to be a greater focus on attracting users of all ages – not just those who are tech-savvy. The onboarding process to buy crypto needs to be easier – not only for those who are already tech-savvy and crypto needs to become more commonplace in everyday transactions.
Recently, PayPal announced that it will allow its nearly 350 million users to buy and spend Bitcoin along with other major cryptocurrencies. This is an example of a huge step forward in the right direction. A company that already has a massive userbase in the payments industry that is allowing for the use of digital currency – this will indeed lead to better usability in the crypto space.
Although crypto has been quite volatile – from its actual value to the emotional havoc it has played in people’s lives – it is a very young and nascent industry that is still in its infancy. The internet took decades to get where it is today. If blockchain technology and crypto usage can become mainstream by 2030, it will be fair to call it a win. Despite all of its usability hurdles, crypto and blockchain technology will become easier to interact with – but this will take time and we need to be patient.
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