For most people cryptocurrencies are still either a get rich quick scheme or a scam of sorts, or then they just don't understand them at all. The last part being something that could easily be changed by a focused effort in making the process of buying, using, and selling cryptocurrencies easy.
The reason something becomes popular is not because a corporation decided this is the next big thing
The reason that something becomes popular is that people like it or find it useful. This is has traditionally been overlooked in the engineering industry. We still see that most of the things that are being developed, are developed purely based on the technological advances, which engineers can see.
It didn't use to matter in the past if the solution to a problem was a bit complicated. We needed to invent things we didn't have. We didn't have a way to move heavy stuff without huge effort, so we invented the wheel. The first wheels where probably stuck on to some form of platform, which could then be moved by pulling it. Making it easier for one person to move what would usually take at least two people to move. Now, how many of you manually drag heavy stuff with you on something you might see in a movie about the ancient Egyptians? I highly doubt many of you. Some of you might be thinking, "I often pull a bag behind me with wheels on it and it is very simple", yes you might be used to thinking of things being very simple when in fact when you start to consider how you might make one yourself, you probably first think of buying pieces from the shop or using tools to carve wood etc.. Now what would you do if you didn't have anything, everything you wanted, you would need to find from nature and assemble, so that you could make a wheel? I wouldn't know where to start.
What does a wheel have to do with cryptocurrency? Well, not much. We have come so far from the early times technology wise that we forget how things used to be. Pretty much anything that was invented was better than the old solution. This went on all the way until the industrial revolution. Pretty much anything someone invented was useful somehow. There weren't too many ways to make things more complicated than they had to be. The complications associated were because there was no other way of doing it. Fast forward past the industrial age and enter the time of technological advancement, with cars that can play the radio, mobile phones, and personal computers. Suddenly there are a thousand ways to do each one, hell there even are thousand different types of them, because some one made a thousand different types. Why? Because none of them quite fit the need.
source: Flickr - Food Group
Fitting the need of a user is what the modern technology needs to achieve
Somewhere along the line, probably at an unknown time to anyone, we lost touch of the reason we create technology. Technology used to be created because there was a special kind of need that could only be fixed by one way. Nowadays, the majority of technology is created because the engineers see a problem that no one else sees. Now, I'm not saying that engineers are wrong, what I'm saying is that engineers tend to see the problem, but they tend to misjudge the way to fix the problem. It isn't anymore so that when you want to call someone, you invent the telephone. The telephone has already been invented, but you can't call someone from the nature. It also isn't that you need to enable the telephone to be able to connect to a GSM network. The thing is that the user needs to know how that is done, because the user is the one who will be using it. Not the engineer.
The need of a user is different from the need of an engineer. The engineer wants to fix the connectivity issue, the user wants to call. How do you fix this? Giving the user a means of using tools they understand. Now, thanks to telephones, users have become accustomed to entering a random sequence of numbers to be able to call someone. Like I explained, back then being able to call someone was more important than the way you do it. If you think about it, why the crap do we use numbers to call someone? How are numbers related to making a connection to some individual? My guess is that it has something to do with the engineering and connecting lines which were numbered somehow, irrelevant these days.
Source: flickr - Neubie
Cryptocurrencies have entered the field of financial instruments, the field which barely no one understands
Now, how do you expect John, who can't even figure out how to save $20 dollars a month from his $5000 dollar per month salary, to understand the concept of cryptocurrency? How the money in his bank account, which he doesn't see, could be transformed into something else, which in turn would make it more secure, more decentralized, possibly more valuable, and even a great store of value? Why the crap should he care?
Or take Kate. Kate is interested in the concept of cryptocurrency. She understands that the banks and other institutions make money from storing her money, without compensating her as much as she could get compensated were she to store the money herself. She wants to try cryptocurrencies, but she lives in New York, now New York, as I have understood, isn't that fond of cryptocurrencies. She has heard that coinbase is the easiest way to buy cryptocurrencies, but she can't because she lives in the wrong place. She thinks, what are my other options? She googles buy cryptocurrencies, she finds no link to anything, maybe coinbase, but nothing else and well this article:
You don't need to read the article to understand, I will explain. It outlines two ways of buying crypto:
At this point she is like: "Not going to be able to use coinbase, and what the hell is this sea monster? I'm not going put my money in that, it will probably just eat it up and I will never see it again."
Eventually she gives up. Not worth the trouble.
Lets look at one more case, Josh.
Josh is a nerd. He things everything techy is cool. He recently read an article about bitcoin and that made him get interested in it. He started reading about it and then he bought some from coinbase and transfered the 0.000142512 bitcoin to his computer waller, because that was super easy, all you had to do was:
- Register on coinbase.
- Fill in a bunch of details and give your credit card number, what could happen right?
- Get accepted on coinbase, only took 2 weeks
- While waiting, he just googled a few forums and found the link to the github where he could download the official bitcoin wallet, just be safe. Since he knows not to trust all these other scammy looking sites.
- Then he just had to install the program, wait a few days for it to fully download the blockchain.
- Once the two weeks was up, he could use his credit card to buy some bitcoin, the 0.000142512 he wanted. That sum kind of felt right.
- Once he had that, he just had to send it to his wallet.
- At this point obviously the network as he had been intensely studying, needed a transaction fee, which would be used to keep the blockchain secure, and therefore it was ok with him.
- So in the end he ended up paying only 20 bucks for bitcoin and 20 bucks for the transaction fees and the fees that coinbase took. A good deal he thought, he is an early adopter so the price will probably go up. It must, the tech is so awesome.
... The actions he took afterward were extensive and go on and on.
Do you understand what I'm getting at?
For the average Joe to want to buy bitcoin, it would have to happen like this:
- Go to: buybitcoins.com (I made this up, I don't know if there is a site like this)
- Press button: buy bitcoins.
- Register quickly for an account.
- Enter amount of fiat they want to spend.
- Press buy.
- Get bitcoins.
- Go to account
- Select amount of bitcoin
- Press: sell bitcoin.
To use bitcoin:
- Go to shop on the internet
- See nice item
- Select item and go to cart
- Press buy with bitcoin
- Login with account
- Accept payment
- Item is delivered.
Now of course this is a simplification, but I hope you understand what I'm getting at. The process involved in cryptocurrencies is way too hard. It is just too damn difficult. And this is only to get some cryptocurrencies. Just look at a typical wallet:
What the f is that?
For cryptocurrencies to become mainstream the user experience needs to be fixed. I rest my case.