Cryptocurrencies need to become more user friendly
If we want more people to use them
I am a keen user of cryptocurrencies as I would like to understand the technology insofar as I need it for my job.
So far I tried NEO, ADA, XPR, BTC, BCH, DASH, and ETH.
Whereas I have a good understanding of technology, I believe I understand the non-techie point of view. I have to, if I am going to help users protect their information.
I think that the learning curve is currently too steep for most users, and this is a massive hurdle for wider use. These are the reasons I stopped using some of the cryptocurrencies mentioned above:
When trying to perform a transaction I found that there are several types of BCH addresses. At that point I decided not to use it any more. I think for the average user, the concept of “type of address” should not be handled at all. Address is a concept hard enough, but for most countries in the world you can explain the user that is something similar to an IBAN number or credit card number.
When sending XPR from my wallet to the exchange I use, I almost lost it because XPR uses an address with two components. Again, users may occasionally need to deal with SWIFT codes as a second part of an address, but a banking transaction will not start without a valid SWIFT code. XPR does allow you to make a mistake in the second part of the address. At that point I decided not to use it any more.
During the initial stages of testing NEO I found that handling small amounts of value led to cryptic messages. It took me considerable research and several weeks to recover my test balance in NEO. If a cryptocurrency is to gain adoption, it must be amenable to tests. So after the initial trial I decided not to use it any more.
These are just three examples of “one strike and you are out”
Is it Money?
Apparently many people lose access to their wallets because somehow they lose their passphrases. This is a natural consequence of:
- Users have grown used to have in their devices a view of the object the handle, pictures, documents, bank balances are “out there in the cloud”.
- Average users are notoriously unskilled about backup copies. It is not like during the last ten years people stopped losing pictures and other important documents when they lose their mobiles.
- Average users receive instructions about “keeping the words secure” when setting up the wallet but secure means different things for different people. Why not advice along the lines of “keep the words in a hidden place that only you can access”
- Wallets don’t use skeuomorphism metaphors. If the passphrase looked and felt like money, people would treat it like money. Why not display the passphrase in a way that can be either photographed or printed off-line, displayed with the look and feel of a banknote, like in the example below?
I think cryptocurrencies have an extremely bright future fulfilling many needs of the economy, both in developed and under developed countries.
The only problem I have with crypto is the intense focus on anonymity. Modern societies that work well use taxes to create an environment that improves life for everyone who lives in that country. You will find a strong correlation between tax evasion, low taxes and low development in many areas, including education, public healthcare and infrastructure.
By creating tools for anonymous ownership, I think we are playing the game of those among the rich and powerful that hide their wealth and don’t pay their due taxes. We don’t need more anonymity about who owns what, we need less, and obviously tax the hell out of the one who do no pay their fair amount of taxes. But I guess this is not a popular opinion.