After three years of stagnation, the cryptocurrency market has finally picked itself back up again. Since the last quarter of 2020, Bitcoin and many altcoins have shown tremendous growth (no one can ignore Dogecoin’s 29,900% rally over one year), reaching the eyes and ears of the mainstream market. Cryptocurrency has inevitably become part of daily conversations, especially after gaining explosive leverage through institutional investors. More and more crypto-millionaires are emerging daily. NFTs and other branches of blockchain technology are taking over the metaverse.
But why aren’t more people using crypto?
The Fiat to Crypto Problem: Explained
Investing in cryptocurrency is supposed to be an easy affair. Dedicated wallets and exchanges tell you that all you really need to do is download the app, convert some fiat money to your digital currency of choice, and start trading, sending, and receiving. And it truly is simple — but only if you’ve had your fair share of adventures in the online world.
In truth, only the most tech-savvy individuals can understand the nuances of blockchain-based trading.
The older generation wasn’t born into the tech boom — understanding everything going on in a crypto wallet isn’t as straightforward as developers make them out to be. Much like ForEx trading, each altcoin holds a different value, but it will take time for some to understand how the value of Stellar (XLM) differs from Dogecoin (DOGE) when they’re trading at the same $0.6 range.
Moreover, there’s the issue of owning less than one of a particular currency. Say you dropped $1,000 in Ethereum (ETH), a coin that’s been on everyone’s minds as of late, rallying to $4,000 just a weekend ago. $1,000 is worth approximately 0.25 ETH, which will reflect in your account as 0.25 ETH. But that’s confusing — it looks like 0.25 cents. What if you want to know how much you own in USD? Or how 0.25 ETH converts to BTC? Or in ADA? You’ll be able to find out by entering an exchange, but that usually means having to open another website or software just to do a quick price check.
Sending crypto isn’t a walk in the park, either.
The tech-challenged face the shorter end of the stick yet again when it comes to the tumultuous journey of sending and receiving funds. Unlike Venmo or Paypal, where sending funds is a matter of entering your friend or family’s email address or clicking their name from the list of contacts, sending cryptocurrency is a little more complicated. Due to the highly sensitive nature of digital currencies, the receiver must send you their wallet address, which you have to copy-paste as is, and send them the exact number of BTC, ETH, or any other altcoin of your choice. There are a few problems in this process:
- It’s nerve-wracking for the sender — they have no way of verifying that they’ve inputted the correct wallet address. One mistake and all the crypto they intend to send could go down the drain.
- The sender needs to calculate the exact amount of crypto to send while accounting for gas fees, which are essentially processing fees that go up in proportion to network congestion. You won’t know how much these fees cost until the transaction is completed, and you can’t successfully complete a transaction if you don’t have enough leftover funds to cover the fees.
In short, it’s difficult for newcomers to get used to making cryptocurrency transactions, which is a hindrance that’s detrimental to the growth of the digital economy.
How a Simple UX Solution Can Solve The Crypto Onboarding Problem
UX, or user experience, is arguably the most significant issue that hinders cryptocurrency adoption. It’s no doubt that this new digital economy is tenfold more confusing than the fiat economy. Still, there’s a lot a straightforward UI (user interface — or what you see and interact with upon opening an app or site) can do to ease the transition from fiat money to coins.
First, rather than being bombarded by graphs and other data that isn’t valuable to newbies with no financial experience, wallets can build a simple PayPal-esque UI where you can immediately see your funds and portfolio on a dashboard. Adding a simple multi-currency view of funds will also immensely enhance the UX — so you can see how much your BTC is worth in USD, EUR, ETH, DOGE, and more.
The sending and receiving process can also be a lot more straightforward. Not many wallets have adopted the QR code system, but it can be reassuring for users to know that simply scanning a picture sent to them directly by the receiver will ensure that the funds are going to the right wallet. Strike, a transaction platform is also reimagining the crypto wallet system by bridging the gap between fiat currency and Bitcoin. All funds on the app show up as fiat money — a familiar value — but it’s possible to pay both ways, making the process much more relaxing to ease into, especially for people new to the system.
Expanding Usability Through Familiarity
Now is a crucial time for the mainstream market to become familiar with cryptocurrency and all of its nuances because blockchain technology is breaching new heights — opening up plenty of opportunities from both an investment and adoption standpoint. Nobody wants to be left behind, but that isn’t going to happen until the UX greatly improves to a point where crypto no longer feels like an exclusive club for tech geniuses.
But acknowledging the UX problem has to trickle into other areas of blockchain technology, too. It’s not only crypto — the foundation of the digital economy — that’s causing people more confusion than necessary. Even the elusive world of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens (digital assets that are bought and sold with coins), are also challenging to get into for the tech non-enthusiast. From Opensea to DIGITALAX and Rarible, each marketplace has different terms and conditions and entry requirements, making it difficult for first-timers to maneuver without going through multiple guides and walkthroughs.
But with the UX problem brought to light, companies are likely to rethink their approach to presenting information and helping new users interact with the data overload that comes with breaking into the new digital economy. Until then, the fiat-to-crypto problem will continue to be a source of the internet’s confusion.