The benefits that cryptocurrencies can bring to the world are taking hold; Bitcoin is already proving to be a safe haven for citizens of politically corrupt nations, charities are able to open new channels for donations, and artists can be fairly compensated for their work. Yet much of the world is still unaware, hesitant, or resistant to the transformative power of cryptocurrencies.
The barriers hindering mass adoption of cryptocurrencies can certainly be dissolved. While the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry is still in its infancy, we now have the tools and resources to create a strong ecosystem honoring the core reasons why Bitcoin was created and facilitate a world where ‘crypto-friendly’ applications, websites and devices are commonplace. Adopting cryptocurrency isn’t a seamless user experience and this is the area that needs improvement. The empowering of the global developer community creates the web and apps we use every day.
Here are five things that can drive the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies:
Demystifying cryptocurrencies through education
Perhaps the most solid barrier to cryptocurrency adoption is the lack of understanding and knowledge amongst the public. The hype surrounding Bitcoin’s value in recent years has clouded both the perceptions of cryptocurrency and how it can completely transform our flawed global financial system. Stories of people losing funds because they are careless with their private keys, or do not understand the basic functions of a crypto wallet, are unfortunately common.
As champions of blockchain technology and its core philosophy, it should be our commitment to help simplify the complexity of using cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency businesses and projects should continue leading discussions about this technology by engaging in debate and dialogue whether via online forums, blog posts, thoughtful opinion pieces, conferences or meetups. We should be a source of support and knowledge for the average person to learn and educate others.
We also need to take the time to educate journalists how this new technology works for those who rely on them for information. To promote our blockchain projects, we should ensure that journalists fully understand what our service or product does, and how it will add value to the world. Through accurate reporting, the wider community can be well-informed, and embrace blockchain sooner.
Academic institutions should take a lead in research and education. Universities have always played a role in developing and disseminating knowledge and technology. Since many institutions already agree that cryptocurrencies and blockchain will become a critical part of our financial, technological, and social future, it’s just a matter of putting theory into practice. Education of blockchain technology in both secondary and tertiary schools is a sure-fire way to innovate the space and speed up its process of maturation and adoption. There are already world-renowned universities such as MIT, NYU, Oxford and Berkeley with digital currency curriculums.
Cryptocurrency leaders Antonis Polemitis and Andreas Antonopoulos are professors at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, which offers a Master’s degree in digital currencies. This was also the first university in the world to accept Bitcoin for tuition payments. Their diplomas and certificates are recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain, giving students control in managing their own education data.
Easing security concerns
The idea of self-sovereign digital currencies may seem overwhelming to many. In a hypothetical world where cryptocurrency and decentralization are king, everyone must be solely responsible for their own funds and their security, effectively acting as their own bank.
Individuals will have to safeguard their private keys which ‘unlock’ their cryptocurrencies. Although the ERC777 standard reduces some of the risks involved with human error, it is rarely reversible. We must ensure that users know to safely and securely transact with cryptocurrency.
While this can be an intimidating prospect – banks have traditionally been the ‘guardians’ of our finances – the benefits are immeasurable and the need absolute. With decentralized cryptocurrencies, however, no one but you has control over or access to your money. It cannot be stolen, accounts cannot be frozen, nor can political corruption infect your savings.
The blockchain community and businesses operating within the space should be clear and vocal advocates of this concept. Our products and services should always honor decentralization as the foundation for the new economy built on transparency and equality, rather than institutionalized exploitation that is consistently demonstrated; corrupt banks, and the governments who bail them out due to devastating social and economic harm.
We can help facilitate the transition from a centralized world to a decentralized one by supporting and creating companies that empower individuals with these full financial freedoms – something seldom granted within even the most progressive societies. We can also work with banks, financial institutions, fintech companies and payment platforms to integrate cryptocurrency options and bring this transition into the mainstream quicker. This means actively reaching out, educating and working with these groups so the community is exposed to cryptocurrencies from sources already familiar to them.
Integrating cryptocurrency payments systems
We can reshape global business so that cryptocurrency moves fluidly from peer-to-peer. The demand for crypto payment options will grow if we facilitate ways to spend crypto on practical, everyday things such as bills and household items. Merchant adoption is currently low but by taking the lead now and offering these easy to implement solutions, we can prove that crypto is the superior alternative to current fiat processes.
Brick and mortar businesses can easily accept popular cryptocurrencies at their point of sale with no additional hardware required by simply integrating particular software into their current payment systems. Retailers can also use hardware terminals and IoT devices such as touch screens with an app that generates QR codes or wallet addresses for instant transfers. Customers simply scan the code or enter the business’ public address and the amount is debited from their wallet of choice.
Merging crypto with consumer cards is another way to put crypto in the public’s pocket. Popular fintech cards such as Revolut are now offering the option to pay with cryptocurrency, while there are dedicated cryptocurrency debit cards and even gift cards that can be preloaded with bitcoin.
Crypto billing solutions are becoming readily available, with a range of specialized companies helping the average household pay their rent, electricity bills, and even tax using cryptocurrency. We should work towards this future where the average family can pay for their livelihoods with cryptocurrency.
Opening the cryptocurrency channel to global e-commerce
The success of internet giants such as Amazon and Alibaba exemplify how online businesses are turning the world digital. It is predicted that worldwide e-commerce sales will grow to 4.88 trillion US dollars by 2021. Forty percent of the world’s internet users – over a billion people – have made purchases online. This number is expected to grow exponentially.
We can unlock a new market for e-commerce, by enabling cryptocurrency payments. Every online business can enjoy the benefits of accepting crypto payments – expanding their customer base into the millions of online citizens already using crypto and opening up a new revenue stream. This will help smaller online businesses expand and democratize the online market, while established online stores can attract more customers.
The average online shopping cart abandonment rate is almost 70%, with leading reasons being that customers were forced to create an account (37%), not trusting a website with personal information and credit card details (19%) and insufficient payment options (8%). All of these issues can be resolved using cryptocurrency, which requires no personal data exchange and provides full transparency of a business’s accounts.
Businesses can benefit greatly from a Software Development Kit and enrich the retail experience with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. These advanced functionalities are easy to set-up with a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that wrap all major protocols in the ecosystem into one environment. These can be accessed using common programming languages, and platforms can provide hosted nodes so there are no additional costs or difficulties associated with setting-up or maintenance of nodes.
Addressing the volatile cryptocurrency market
Much of the world seems transfixed with cryptocurrencies and their ‘worth’, with bitcoin’s huge surge in value, capturing global news headlines late last year. Largely unregulated, the cryptocurrency market has become a wild west of investment. Concerns about its high volatility rate have led many people to avoid buying and using crypto altogether.
Yet the true philosophy of bitcoin has been hijacked by people looking to profit from the ‘crypto wave’. Bitcoin was never meant to be a store of value or a pump and dump investment stock. It originated from an idea of full financial autonomy for individuals, which in turn grants us all with social and political liberties. Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, intended for bitcoin to be a self-sovereign and decentralized payment method which anyone in the world can access and collectively govern, rather than only by the financial elite.
We can support the creation and use of stablecoins, which are backed by real-world assets such as real estate or gold, and increase the wider acceptance and utility of cryptocurrency. This will reduce the amount of influence that speculation has in determining crypto market prices. Over time, the price will be determined by fair supply and demand, leveraging crypto as a unit of exchange, rather than as an investment.
Cryptocurrencies will impart positive change for every individual across the globe; what we must do now is commit ourselves to build the infrastructure and create a new layer of world finance.
Cover Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash