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The problems with Byteball

in byteball •  16 days ago

Let me begin to say that I really want to like Byteball. I like crypto tokens that are used in a working product that have - more or less - 'usefull' features and solve real problems. And I do agree with most of the points @ctrl-alt-nwo points out in the article https://steemit.com/byteball/@ctrl-alt-nwo/byteball-reasons-why-it-s-a-good-crypto-and-why-steemians-should-hang-on-to-their-free-bytes. But I think the product has some big hurdles to overcome before a significant amount of people will start to use it. The main problems Byteball are facing are in my view:

  1. People want to use fiat for crypto services. I know, this is a general problem for cryptocurrencies and also true for Byteball. Easily send or receive money (via text message or 'the regular way'), betting on sport events or insure yourself against flight delays, these are usefull things, but a lot less usefull if you have to use GBYTEs instead of your local currency. And I know that's just psychological, but it is the way 99% of the people see it right now. Dollars and euros are a store of value and unit of accounting, maybe even BTC, but GBYTEs are certainly not.
    And that is why I don't understand the following is the number one priority for all crypto products right now. Let people use the existing services by paying in their local fiat, let them pay an extra fee for converting to the utility token in question and use the service. So suppose a user can buy a flight delay insurance and can pay in euros. He doesn't have to worry about the GBYTE/EUR price fluctuation and he knows exactly how much he pays for the insurance and what he will receive (in euros) in case of a flight delay. It will mean that the GBYTE token has little value because the demand is limited, but that's only in the beginning. Eventually more and more people will use Byteball and gradually people will see benefit in keeping some GBYTES in their wallet (lower fees) and the price of GBYTES will rise. Most important, it will drive the most important thing for any product or service: user adoption.

  2. The features that Byteball offers should be cheaper / more efficient than similar existing products. The current features are neither, although I think the flight delay insurance service is the best shot so far (by the way I think insurances in general is a great use case for decentralized crypto products). Consider the sports betting service. When you bet against the bot the offered quotes are worse than the quotes on any commercial online betting site. So what is the use of the service? The whole premise of blockchain technology is that you can cut the middlemen and thereby reduce costs and be cheaper. So why are these Byteball quotes so terrible?
    Betting-compared.jpg

  3. Some feautures are extremely hard to use. For example the peer to peer sports betting. I like the idea in general and was curious to try it out. What I had in mind was a sort of a peer to peer betting exchange where you can offer and accept bets. So you can see per match what bets other people are offering. You can then accept the best offer or you can place a better offer. Something like that. I was wrong and the execution of the p2p betting function is devious. First you have to connect with your peer via the chat feature in a Whatsapp like way (invite and accept). Byteball calls this adding a device. After adding your peer you start a chat and ask your peer to send his wallet adress. You can then click on the adress and make and offer a contract. When making the contract you have to know some things beforhand, which makes the process even more cumbersome. You need to know the feed name and in order to know the feed name you have to search through the sports betting bot first. You also need to have an agreement with your peer about the amount of GBYTES both of you want to bet on, otherwise there is no sense in offering the contract. Finally, when you made it till this stage and you made the bet with your peer, it's also unclear how to collect your GBYTEs when you win the bet. If you are familiar with how smart contracts work you know that a smart contract has it's own wallet and it makes sense that you have to transfer your gains from that wallet to your own wallet. Regular users won't understand this and wonder how they will get their GBYTEs.

  4. The user interface is challenging to put it mildly. Let's again take the peer to peer sport betting as example. Below some screenshots about the chat with your peer before starting the bet. Is it for a new user clear that he can insert his wallet adress via the three dots in the left bottom corner? And what about when you receive a wallet adress, how clear is it that you can click the adress to get to the popup and offer a contract? Chat.jpg
    And then the fun really begins with drawing up the contract! See the next screenshots. The upper part is relatively straightforward to understand, although the way things are formulated are far from dummy proof. But it basically asks for your and your peer's bet deposit and that you can get your deposit back if the peer doesn't make his deposit. The lower part is completely incomprehensable for first time users. What is an oracle, what is a feed name, what is meant by expected value, etc? I understand that this is the general format for any smart contract on the platform, but using these generic terms makes it almost unusable for general users. An existing contract looks like the following contract. Can any non technical user understand what the contract says? Really terrible right? Contract.jpg

I know what you might think. The product is in development and these are relatively easy things to improve. That may be but why deliver a product that is practibly unusable for a regular user. What is the point? The developers only scare away the sparse users that actually want to try to use the product. Anyway, I gave up and dropped out.

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First of all, it's great that you tried Byteball and took the time to write a post about it. I totally understand your frustration, however, you have to keep in mind that crypto is in a very early stage and you are an early adopter. Crypto brings a bunch of new concepts a regular user is not familiar with and even though some of the smartest developers work in this space, they are usually not the best at designing user interfaces.
Creating an easy to use straightforward product based on a cutting edge technology that is disrupting the current banking and financial systems is extremely difficult. It requires many iterations, probably several years, until it becomes easily adoptable by the mainstream user.
I remember when the Internet came in my high school, the IT teachers told us it was not interesting and there was nothing to see :) At that time it was mainly text based, the World Wide Web was in it's early stage and we used a different protocol called Gopher to browse contents available mainly on university servers. It wasn't user friendly at all, but what would have happened if the developers hadn't released those apps and technologies and instead had waited for a time until they could come up with YouTube and Twitter and Instagram to make it consumable to the majority? Very little progress would have been made and probably they would still be working on Netscape 1.0 in their labs and wondering if it was user friendly enough already to release.
So I would encourage you to keep experimenting with Byteball and give your feedback to the community and the developers so they can keep iterating and fine tuning the apps to make it more user friendly. That is how progress will be made.

  1. Yes, this is a problem of all cryptocurrencies, but there isn't any good solution for that problem other than adding a support for some stable coin like Tether. Many exchanges do that because they don't have a bank account, which would let them accept real fiat money for cryptocurrencies. Maybe some wallets support multiple cryptocurrencies and some of them are stablecoins, but generally, if you need to interact with blockchain of any cryptocurrency, you need to use native currency. For some, it is because that is the only currency there is on that cryptocurrency platform and for others that is a only currency that miners only accept. For example, you can't send ERC20 tokens on Ethereum without paying the fees in ETH. The price volatility is because cryptocurrencies are still too small, there aren't enough people to get it more stable because there is always some people who could dump their coins at low price. Another reason for it could be that it is so easy to do with cryptocurrencies, but so much difficult to do with fiat money.

  2. Fees on Byteball are super cheap, usually a transaction cost on Byteball is less than 1000 bytes, which costs around $0.00005. You are not betting against the bot, you are betting against other people who have offered those odds. The odds difference between what is shown on OddsChecker and BB Odds is not because bot fees, but because these are the odds that other users have offered. Also, the whole premise of blockchain is not cutting the costs, it is to get rid of the middlemen who block you from sending the money or who could deny payout to you even if you won by having the funds in smart-contract, not in hands of middleman. If you think that these odds are horrible (which they aren't) then you could offer better odds yourself, if you were sure that 2.06 was too low odd for Atlanta Braves to lose against Boston Red Sox, you could have gone to bet maker mode on BB Odds and offered the odds that you would think are fair, if you have money deposited to bot, next time anybody thinking that Atlanta Braves will win would have taken your offered bet.

  3. Betting on Byteball has evolved a lot and what you are describing is the foundation of sports betting and how it can be done with the help of Sports Oracle bot and direct chat with somebody you know. The next layer on top of that was Sports Betting Bot, which takes care of the issue of finding the other counterpart and lets people just put up the odds and anybody could take them via the bot. It is exactly the exchange what you are describing, but it is even better because you don't have to pick any single offer with best odds, it will automatically compose you the smart-contract with the best odds depending on the amount you want to bet on. Third layer is the web interface of BB Odds, which makes using the bot even easier because you can see all the bets at once, you can change the odd formats and lot more, it's basically a gateway to Sports Betting bot bets without the need to navigate in the chatbot. Since you missed the difference of all those 3 things, I guess I can agree that the funnel of directing the users to right services could be better, but if you are interested to read more about the evolution of sports betting on Byteball then you can do it there https://medium.com/byteball/new-tool-makes-the-byteball-betting-bot-more-user-friendly-and-enticing-to-both-cryptocurrency-7191f14a7460

  4. This one just feels like you are nitpicking on random things. Do you really think that if the chat response that is in black color and a link color that is blue doesn't make it clear that users can click it? Because that what links do on web and on chats, they are in different color than rest of the text and you can click on them. Also, open up any other chat app and you will see that there is a button(s) next to the text box where you can type and when you click on it, it offers you other stuff that you can insert into the message. Anybody familiar with any chatting app should feel home with Byteball app because it works like rest of the chatting apps. This is one of the core difference from other cryptocurrencies, which build different UI for different services, on Byteball, all apps work similar way, as chatbots. And some like Sports Betting bot even have web interfaces if chatbots are still too revolutionary for you.

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Thanks for your reply and some additional insights.

  1. I didn't know that these quotes are the results of offered bots (see bullet 3), because for me as a user it is not clear how to make an offer. My point in general is that regular users will abandon the service if quotes - for whatever reason - keep being lower than quotes on other services. Regardless the underlying reasons.
  2. Thanks for that info, I didn't know that. I will look into the article.
  3. Maybe the chatbot isn't the best example, but let's be honest here. The way to set up a contract (betting offer in this case) and read back the contract is way to difficult for regular users and will scare them of. It's not nitpicking, because I really hope for this platform to succeed and I am more than willing to tolerate shortcomings because of the platforms novelty, but no substantial growth will happen with this user interface.
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  1. These bets don't have to be offered by bots, anybody can offer those odds. but these are not offered by Byteball Foundation, there is no central bookmaker, so anybody can offer any odds they want and if there is nobody offering any better odds then these are the odds they see. Other betting sites can offer odds with small margins because they have lot of volume to cover their risk, but Byteball or any other cryptocurrency betting doesn't have that many users or volume yet. So, yeah, it's like catch-22 issue, but I don't see what is the solution here, how to you motivate more people to risk their money if there is not even enough of volume to cover the risks? I mean, am I been able to convince you to offer odds in bet maker mode? Probably not.
    And I actually don't understand this thing about the lower odds. If you are so sure that the team is going to win, it shouldn't matter for you if the odds are 1.4 or 1.5, you still going to win 1.4x times the money you had if that is a sure win. Your alternative is to use the regular betting sites and in some cases, you don't have that alternative at all because you might not have access to these sites. Just like a lot of people don't have bank accounts.

  2. great.

  3. Well, the way you set up the bet with a person you know is just an example what the platform can do. So yeah, it is for more advanced users who know what they are doing, but that is also a reason why there is Sports Betting bot, which is built on top of it and takes a way all that frustrating part of finding other counterpart and pairing with them. Anybody can build on those features another services that focuses only making bets with friends, but if there isn't enough people for existing Sports Betting bot, there is no motivation to streamline the way to make bets with friends. That feature is for advanced users, everybody is better off using BB Odds and Sports Betting bot.
    Most likely, new technologies like blockchain will be accepted more buy new generation and they are very familiar with chatting apps (many don't even have computers, just smartphones), but maybe until then, websites like BB Odds need to be built along with the bots. And about that smart-contract thing, that is much easier to read that any Ethereum smart-contract and once you understand it, it is just as easy as scrolling down the Terms of Use page and clicking "I accept".

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