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Right now, if you were to ask the average person on the street what blockchain technology is, they would most likely, and inappropriately, begin discussing its affiliates: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Unequivocally misled, the general public has clung to the ill-informed public statements and sentiments regarding both blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
From first-time investors who believe various speculative cryptocurrencies will get them well on their way to a formidable retirement fund to old-world financial services moguls pushing a myopic fraudulent and risk-heavy narrative, the ongoing discourse is rife with inaccuracies. It is these very inaccuracies that are permeating the minds of the “crypto curious” and providing a barrier to positive educational frameworks.
The Media Sentiment
Many reputable news outlets and thought leaders have bought into the false narrative that this technology encourages illicit transactions and paves way for illegal activity. Currently, decentralized distributed ledger technology (DLT) is often thought of as disingenuous, unregulated and regressive infrastructure. In reality, DLT allows for the provision of greater transparency by way of publicly verifiable records. This counterproductive narrative subsequently puts these transactions under more scrutiny, even though they are publicly auditable.
When it comes to cryptocurrency, which is simply defined as a financial incentive for validator nodes in a decentralized framework, many view the recent price action as another deterrent for the broader adoption of blockchain technology. Drawing parallels to the subprime mortgage credit bubble of 2008, cryptocurrencies have been referred to as “worthless” or “meritless” assets with no true use or value. However, it’s important to highlight that while the price action of crypto assets has been dramatic in recent years, so have legacy financial markets to some extent.
GameStop and several other single-name stocks are instances where we saw traditional capital markets unravel following the mobilization of a few die-hard communities. The reality is that financial markets as a whole have been volatile over the past decade, as consumer-friendly investment products have brought about more speculative money to the system.
NFTs: Validation in the Face of Naysayers
As we still learn even more from the application of blockchain technology, the recent success of the non-fungible token (NFT) market and consumer-facing blockchain projects have already started the next phase of broader adoption. Dapper Labs’ Cryptokitties, and more recent NBA Top Shot marketplaces, have been critical proof points for the merits of blockchain technologies.
The NFT market pulls on the heartstrings of not just blockchain-obsessed, early crypto adopters but also your everyday laypeople. By creating a product that delivers a very tangible market need to fans in a way that it’s well-received, these marketplaces and the general proliferation of NFTs encourage people to further educate and familiarize themselves with the uses of blockchain. A broader, more meaningful migration of people from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 could occur if blockchain speaks to these audiences with a certain efficacy. This would stipulate a halfway meeting point between the company and the audience.
Once the industry shifts its focus away from educating the masses on intricacies like Ethereum wallets and refocuses on teaching the consumer about use cases and quotidian applications, subsequently lowering the educational barriers to entry, the possibilities could be endless.
Mass Adoption Comes Into Play
The mass adoption of crypto could potentially be catalyzed by decentralized social media. There have been concerted efforts on both sides of the equation, namely legacy social platforms like Twitter with its BlueSky initiative, as well as crypto-focused and decentralized platforms like BitClout. Given that we now spend the majority of our time online, social media has inevitably become intrinsically linked to our way of life, even more so post-pandemic. Therefore, it’s crucial that consumers’ user journeys on these progressive platforms are seamless. No one wants to spend what could arguably be most of their leisure time learning unnatural, fragmented processes and systems. In order for these platforms to find a suitable product-market fit, it’s imperative they add no complexity to our lives as they currently exist.
The platforms that will find the most success will be those that further streamline our day-to-day living.