A lot of people left comments on my videos saying “If SegWit comes in…” “Just you wait and see if Segregated Witness comes in…” What they don’t get is, that’s a huge “if”. The problem isn’t just that there are unconfirmed transactions now… the problem is, we have no idea how or when the solutions will be implemented. That is the real problem, and Bitcoin maximalists have a huge blind spot for that. It seems to be because they’re only thinking about Bitcoin in terms of the technology, not in terms of the human factors – the governance, the politics. It’s as if they say “Well the technology exists so it’s all going to be fine.” And when you ask “How is that tech going to be implemented?” they say “the technology exists so it’s all going to be fine.”
You also see this flavour of thinking when it comes to user experience. They say “I don’t care about having to copy and paste a Bitcoin address” Or they bring up QR codes. It’s true, QR codes give an improved user experience compared to long confusing strings of characters that make up Bitcoin addresses. However, QR codes pose their own problems. I’ve often been on the web looking at a QR code thinking, what am I supposed to do – point my phone at my monitor? That just seems weird. If people had to scan a QR code to get to Google or Facebook, the web probably wouldn’t be as popular as it is today.
If you want a service to get popular, you have to extend your empathy, imagine yourself in the shoes of a complete noob and try to feel what they would in that situation. If you get caught up thinking “I’m comfortable with this (so I’m sure everyone else will be too),” you’re confining your tech to be used by an elite few.
The Story: Bitcoin & Dash – User experience and governance in cryptocurrency
Bitcoin is an amazing technology that captured the imaginations of many people. Various individuals were stunned at the idea that mathematical algorithms could form the basis of our money, rather than central bankers and corrupt politicians, as is normally the way today. People were seduced by the idea of sending value around the world in a matter of minutes, a currency uncontrolled and uncontrollable by authority, and sending micropayments to websites to read their articles – instead of having to tolerate clickbait content beholden to advertisers. Bitcoin has delivered on some of those promises, however, it’s 8 years on and it still seems to be far from mainstream adoption.
If we take a step back from the hype and the dream of Bitcoin – still alive in the minds of many of us – we can see that Bitcoin has a few key problems. The main problem is, it’s too hard to use. People have to use long addresses which look like computer errors, to know the right transaction fee to send their cash or risk their transaction being at the back of a queue of 80,000, they have to generate new addresses for security, make paper wallets or buy a Trezor if they really want to be secure – and if they lose their wallet, or get hacked, they might just lose their life’s savings. Does that sound like a currency which is ready for mass adoption?
Now, I don’t know any digital currency which is ready for mass adoption – but I do know one which might be close. Dash “Digital Cash” is a currency which started in 2014, and the team is actively working on the problem of user experience, devising a system where people can log-in from any computer with a username and password, send currency using something like looks like a name, have their money secured while still retaining control, and not worry about losing their retirement fund just because they misplaced their private keys. Even now, Dash has the functionality of instant payments, and of private payments.
In this short episode, Kurt presents the case of why Dash might reach mass adoption before Bitcoin. Join me in another paradigm-shattering, central-banker-unseating, digital revolution episode of … The Paradise Paradox!
Ask almost any Bitcoin enthusiast for the main obstacles holding back Bitcoin from mainstream adoption, and usability will most likely fall in the top two. Many companies are working on solutions to this problem, such as ChangeTip, allowing people to send money to people through tweets or YouTube comments. Another is Netki, which changes Bitcoin addresses into warm and friendly, human readable addresses. And yet another is Pulsebtc, which enables regular people to enjoy some of the benefits of Bitcoin transactions, without ever having to know that they’re using blockchain technology.
The product comes in the form of a bracelet, which one day you will be able to swipe in taxis and cafés to pay for your product. Because of Bitcoin’s low transaction fees, It’s cheaper for the vendor, and it’s convenient for the user.
At LaBITconf, we met the CEO of Pulsebtc, Humberto Quintanilla, and discussed his vision, his journey as an entrepreneur, his ideas of what the future might look like, and his romantic outlook on life. Join us for another Bitcoin-transferring, coffee-and-donut-paying, technologically-innovating episode of … The Paradise Paradox!