Being niche is cool. But is it scalable to sink billions of dollar in capital investment into an industry and expect mediocre outcomes? There are scores of companies that have raised far lesser than a lot of crypto-focused companies but enjoy an order of magnitude more usage and organic revenue. One thing needs to change: either we accept we will always be on the edge of the system (and say goodbye to large capital flows) or we make a more dramatic push to bring these protocols and products to a larger audience.
Any crypto bull will pick the latter. That’s step 1 — acceptance. That’s also when the real challenge starts. How do we actually bridge the gap between reality and vision? How do we get people to treat crypto apps no differently from traditional apps? Since 2021, I’ve been a huge proponent of overhauling crypto UX. Well, not overhaul so much as encouraging teams to take an orthogonal path from what exists today.
Today’s use of crypto involves developing a deep understanding of how things work. Wallets, singular front-ends, aggregators, analytics tools, tax & accounting tools, etc. The great unbundling of UX that defined crypto from its inception till today has been fun to watch. It is, in essence, a bunch of independent teams identifying new gaps in the market and spinning up a product to make users’ lives easier. Now we have to offer an alternative path which would take a contrasting approach to much of what we’ve seen in the last decade. We have to bundle it all back up to cater to your average Joe.
Spending day in and day out inside of crypto gets you stuck in a particular mindset. You have perspective most others don’t, and in a way this induces tunnel vision. “It’s so easy to spin up a Metamask, just write these 12 words down and protect them with your life”; “just make sure you bookmark every single front-end you ever want to visit to make sure you don’t get phished”.
The above sequence; that’s viable for me because I work in crypto. I spend an unhealthy amount of time staying on top of what’s happening. I take the time to tinker around with new products and protocols. Not everyone wants to do that. Not everyone should have to do that. Because if that is the forced option, then crypto usage will unfortunately look as it does today — cycle after cycle where asset prices are the product and speculation is the only true utility. I’m a big fan of speculation. I think when it comes to DeFi infrastructure, that should 100% be the focus of today — speculation primitives. Because this is the easiest way to build up on-chain liquidity and attract users. But it shouldn’t be the only thing worth getting into crypto for.
A bundled product that gives users everything they need one one platform is, in my opinion, the only positive way to get the masses using this tech. It needs to be easy to get everything done in a single app. Today, that product looks like Binance or Coinbase. We need to distill that experience down to a real platform that relies on decentralized technology. Liquidity sourced from DeFi, key management done via client-platform MPCs, and access to all required ancillary services like tax management and analytics in a single app.
Over time, it has to evolve to a place where there are no “crypto apps” and “non-crypto apps” — there are only apps. If we abstract as much of the complexity as possible and offer users the optionality to sit anywhere on the spectrum between non-custodial and custodial, this will eventually happen.
Lots of cynics believe the bull case for crypto is nothing short of a complete meltdown of capitalism as we know it today. I’m much more optimistic and think crypto and the existing system can thrive together.
Crypto consumer is an extremely wide net, and it’s not just about making DeFi in specific more user friendly. This is an active area of thought for me, and I plan to spend more time researching and writing about how this space can evolve. Because it is truly the only way crypto escapes being a niche casino with destructive off-seasons. If you or anyone you know is interested in the onset of crypto consumer and thinking about the space, please reach out.