Yesterday I downloaded the Haven ($XHV) wallet since I switched to mining it at home.
And there I was reminded (again) of a big problem, cryptocurrencies and the whole space still have: usability.
I am not talking about the GUI not being nice or easy to use. It lies within the Blockchain itself.
I set everything up and then I had to sync the wallet with the Blockchain. Since I never did that before I had to sync about 180,000 blocks.
This whole process clogged up my internet connection completely, so I couldn’t actually use my PC at all. I had it running for about 2 hours and the bar only moved 1/4.
Now, this is not the problem of mining not being approachable enough. The issue lies within downloading and synching the whole Blockchain to even USE your wallet. If I remember correctly this isn’t the case for every wallet you use, but it certainly is still a problem within the space. Or one of the problems rather.
Nerds and Magician’s
You still have to be a magician with computers (that’s how I get portrayed by my family for being a programmer) to use cryptocurrencies. Even for simple tasks like setting up a wallet and getting your funds in there. It’s not like the Haven wallet was particularly easy to use. It has all sorts of weird fields on the interface. Nobody, who isn’t in crypto for a while now and has made the effort to learn about all these things like hashes and stuff would even have the slightest clue what to do on that wallet GUI.
You need to choose how you want to connect your paper wallet, with a mnemonic seed or from your private keys. And after you did that, you need to start a local node which pops up in a command prompt from windows, doing all sorts of hacker-stuff. All of this has to be done before the wallet even starts synching itself with the Blockchain. Which means you made a degree in computer science at this point and you are still five hours away from even seeing your money there.
Haven is just an example from my personal experience yesterday. And apparently, their Smartphone app is way easier to use and this project is still very young. Yes, yes, whatever. The point still stands. You set up a PayPal account in minutes. Just for reference.
And even if by some miracle a non-crypto person manages to set up their wallet after they’ve crawled through internet discussion boards and crypto twitter, being called “normies” and “nocoiners”, they now face the issue of
a) what to do with that?
b) how to actually use it.
What do we actually do with our beloved cryptocoins? We either trade them or hold them. To do what? Get more USD out of it? Granted, it is not really up to the common investor to get merchants to accept cryptocurrencies. But apart from some projects, most of them are busy making a fancy Blockchain with a cool name addressing some weird-ass use case nobody heard of before instead of getting people to use their damn coin to buy stuff.
How do we actually use those coins? With unreadable hashes, even less readable whitepapers and websites. You think anyone is going to remember his hash-address on Binance to send Bitcoin to his friends?
Salvation creeping in slowly
This bear market has killed off a lot of utterly useless projects. Which sounds terrible, but is actually a good thing. This gives the market and the crypto space the possibility to focus on the real thing again: making crypto usable in everyday life.
Referring back to the initial story from me with my Haven wallet, I know I could connect to another daemon which already synched their Blockchain instead of starting my own local daemon. But this isn’t really obvious from the get-go. Especially for new users. And I don’t know if all projects actually implement that so far. So there is lots of room for improvement.
But there is one project I specifically like which is trying to bring exactly what we need into this space. Fixing the issue with weird hash-addresses and how to actually send or recieve crypto-money. Cha-Ching. Catchy name, which is a good thing.
This is an App for your Smartphone where you can connect all your different cryptocurrency wallets in one place. Easy to use. And, more importantly, you can receive and send money with Usernames instead of hash-addresses, keys or whatever.
It’s projects like these which give me hope for a bright future of crypto. As I mentioned, I talk about this in my book: we need user focus in this space. Make it easy to use for people. Nobody is going to switch to a decentralized version of Facebook or Twitter if that is its only benefit and, more importantly, it is way harder to use.
It has to be at least on the same level of usability and accessibility. And then there are still other hurdles like small userbase, image, and reputation. Which are all points I pick up in The Bitcoin Saga, which you should definitely buy and give to your “nocoiner” friends. They might pump your bags. Yes, that was a shameless plug of my book.
Other than that, we definitely need more projects like Cha-Ching to promote user-friendliness and ease of use in crypto. So if you plan to start a Blockchain, make this your priority. Because remember: the iPhone wasn’t actually the first Smartphone. HP made one before that which had to be used with a pen. The reason why the iPhone was so successful was/is because it is stupid easy to use.
Make cryptocurrencies easy to use and the world will accept it.