A few years ago the hype blockchain technology and the disruption that it proposes filled the global cyberspace. There were wild predictions about how this novel technology would overrun existing systems and become the new normal. Today, there seems to be new realities as to how blockchain is becoming implemented in the mainstream.
Rather than the perceived sweep that early supporters of the technology predicted, there seems to be a more organic gradual adoption process. Participants are beginning to ask if blockchain will simply adapt as another useful layer of digitization, rather than the expected replacement of existing infrastructure. Will blockchain go ahead to generally substitute existing digitization models, or will it simply support and enhance their usefulness?
In the opinion of Borys Pikalov, Co-Founder and Head of Analytics at Stobox.io, blockchain is becoming mainstream already, although not in a way most expected. Pikalov thinks that instead of removing intermediaries, the technology is now being implemented by large institutions, which include governments for digital money, exchanges and securities, depositories for digital securities and banks for international remittances. He believes that blockchain technology as it stands does not fulfill the promise of disintermediation but still is going to reduce cost and improve financial efficiency in an invisible way for most people.
Certain Hurdles Must Be Crossed Ahead of Mainstream Adoption
Sukhi Jutla, Co-Founder of MarketOrders, tells Coinstituency that the biggest hurdle towards blockchain technology is greater adoption and it comes down to a lack of education in understanding and communicating to users how blockchain actually works and how you can benefit from it.
Jutla notes that the internet was around for over 30 years before it exploded and everyone was using it. She explains that the reason everyone started using the Internet is because we were able to create a user-friendly interface, which was simply the web browser that now made it easy for a non-technical user to access it.
Still on the internet, she notes that before the invention of the web browser, only programmers could use and access the Internet because only they could understand the coding language behind it. The same applies to blockchain technology today. “We are yet to get to a place where we have an easy to use and user-friendly interface, she says. “Even today, there are multiple steps that need to take place in order to open wallets, transact and move payments around. Blockchain technology has the additional hurdle of also not getting enough support in terms of government regulation or the lack of regulation around how to use blockchain technology.”
In order for any technology to thrive, you need to have an environment that is conducive to innovation and growth. Going back to the Internet, this technology was actually being created by governments and armies, which is why it had ample funding and backing behind it. We also need to have this level of support towards blockchain technology if we are going to see this technology thrive and for regular people to use it in their day to day life.
There Needs To Be A Change of Ideology in the Blockchain Industry
In the opinion of Douglas Horn, Chief Architect of the Telos blockchain, early attempts at adoption saw the industry putting “blockchain” in the headline (often in all caps with an exclamation point) when it’s probably best as a footnote. He believes that in most ways, gaining adoption for blockchain technology is like gaining adoption for any other new technology, noting that aside from industry insiders and aficionados, people really don’t care about the gee-whiz new tech – in fact, many view it with suspicion. What people care about is what the technology can do for them.
Horn explains that in order to increase adoption, the industry needs to stop thinking that blockchain is a selling point that anyone cares about for its own sake and focus on the fundamentals of demonstrating real advantages in things that people care about today. Saving people time, money and hassles is always a good place to start. Once you impress people about these savings, you can have the footnote that blockchain empowers all of this.
According to Horn, blockchain tech has the thrilling ability to do things that have never been done before and that gives a lot of us in the industry exciting ideas about how to reshape society. But these blue sky approaches are less thrilling to people just learning about the technology. What they really want is a better way to do what they are doing every day. Focusing on blockchain solutions that tackle everyday challenges and speed them up, cut costs or increase convenience are likely to find better adoption than amazing solutions for problems that don’t yet exist or aren’t generally recognized.
Imagine if Amazon.com had pitched Amazon Prime, its video streaming and free shipping subscription service, back when it was just starting out. Few people would get it. Back then, it was enough of a struggle to get people to just buy books online. Ultimately it worked out because Amazon offered a faster, cheaper, and easier way to buy books in one place. Its later services evolved from there. For blockchain to find the same kind of adoption as online retail, it needs to address existing problems with solutions that are better right now. Odds are, these may appear a bit boring compared to flashy, futuristic offerings.
Applicable Adoption Strategies Are Already Emerging
One of Horn’s favorite new dapps coming out is Qubicles.io, a platform for sharing resources between call centers that have too much work and those that have too much staff. He identifies this load balancing as a real problem in the contact center business and Qubicles has a solution that saves money, time, and hassle. “They are deploying on the Telos blockchain, but that isn’t a leading sales point for them, he says. “They talk about savings and convenience. Qubicles is fabulously boring in that it will use blockchain technology to solve real problems for an industry that few people know or think about.” However, by cutting downtime and better managing staffing, it will solve a real problem for that industry and will save it money. No one will care much that it’s blockchain that enables this.
Another important strategy that Horn notes that will drive adoption is to change dapp interfaces so they hide the blockchain elements that until now have been very much front and center. Address and key management is a challenging part of dapp interfaces for new users. As blockchain interfaces advance, they need to become more invisible and provide additional protections against key loss if they are to attract and keep mass market users. A number of auth and sign-in services can now manage keys for signing dapp transactions. He also notes that some of these may trade a measure of security for recoverability at least until users feel comfortable enough with key management to accept the responsibility directly.
“Expecting mass market users to accept irrecoverable account losses as a part of blockchain acceptance is ridiculous. They will not. Instead, dapp developers will need to find ways to help make accounts recoverable”, he says.
Creating User-Friendly Interfaces
Talking about Telos, Horn notes that the network is putting these approaches together to make a friendlier platform for dapps and mass adoption. “We are making our interfaces easier to use, he says. “Address abstraction and easy account names mean that dapps can help streamline this process for users and provide methods for key recovery or replacement.” He explains that they are also focusing on real solutions to existing problems, one of which is voting and governance of groups like homeowners associations, clubs, unions, and similar organizations. At present, voting is expensive for organizers and an opaque and inconvenient process for members. The Telos Decide™ governance engine simplifies this and improves transparency, cost, and convenience for organizations and their members.
“We are regularly working on better interfaces to make the blockchain element of the platform unthreatening and as easy to use as any other mobile app. We think that simplifying the blockchain elements and maximizing the user benefits are great approaches to bringing mass users to blockchain tech”, concludes Horn.
Iyke Aru is a seasoned author and educator in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. He has been in the business of crypto content writing for many years with thousands of his articles across several platforms on the internet. Iyke is based in Nigeria where he stands out as one of the most informed and credible figures in the cryptocurrency industry. Outside blockchain and crypto, you will most likely catch Iyke playing or discussing football with friends and family.