This year, a great crypto cycle has played out for the crypto trend with new all-time highs, excitement and mainstream media payment lip service. Du jour. However, the uncomfortable truth for us in the industry is that crypto is no longer present in most people’s daily lives as of 2017. Four years have passed – what stopped its progress?
When I joined Crypto.com (then known as Monaco) as its first Chief Marketing Officer, 2017 marked my first professional foray into the blockchain space. The company became one of the largest crypto service providers and fiat-to-crypto gateways in the world.
During that time, the crypto space changed. There is little attention paid to payments and many projects aimed at crypto adoption have been sidelined. Decentralized finance (DFI) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have taken the limelight, but they are ultimately focused on crypto trading and unable to help the real world in any meaningful way – at least for now.
related: Is crypto approaching its ‘Netscape moment’?
The situation before the advent of the iPhone reminds me of the mobile industry and the revolution led by Steve Jobs. Technology and features were being stacked on top of each other, but there was considerable discussion, even if there was no additional impact for the end user.
A mobile marketing pioneer, I worked with the Mobile Marketing Association in Asia for over ten years (served as President during 2009-10) and witnessed the industry’s growth firsthand. One thing that people seem to misunderstand about that revolution is that Apple didn’t “invent” the smartphone to any meaningful extent.
From zero to hero with just one innovation
If you ask someone on the street what made the iPhone so successful, you’ll get at least half a dozen different answers. It was the App and the App Store, some say. For others, it was Gorilla Glass and the touchscreen. It was 3G (in fact, the first iPhone didn’t even have it), Wi-Fi connection, camera, comfortable size, sleek design…
Of course, all of these factors contributed. But consider that, in some form or the other, all those features were already present in other phones. Nokia had Symbian OS and had a fairly rich ecosystem of apps. The same is true for BlackBerry, which was quite advanced for its time in terms of hardware and software – for example, in 2005, it released BBM, the proto-WhatsApp/iMessage. Palm and several other companies were making “pocket computers” with stylus touchscreens. Nokia excelled with the camera phone and predictive text, Motorola dazzled everyone with the Razr’s design, and so on.
The only independent innovation brought about by the iPhone was the user experience (UX), and more specifically, the multi-touch capacitive screen. It introduced gestures, the on-screen QWERTY keyboard, and the original smartphone design we know today, but nothing else in the iPhone, was new in its own right. It was only the last call – as Steve Jobs said at the time, “An iPod, a phone and an Internet communicator… not three separate devices. it is a tool, ”- offering an easy to use, sleek and good looking device, packed full of features. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Crypto just hasn’t had its iPhone moment yet.
Reimagining crypto as a means, not an end
We need to recognize the utilitarian views of the average person when it comes to crypto adoption. The vast majority think about cost and utility well before any idealistic concern. Organic food has its place, but it is a small niche – most people buy food based on its taste and cost. Electric cars struggle because they offer a significant number of practical disadvantages and because they are generally much more expensive.
To position crypto as a wonderful tool for financial freedom and decentralization would be hollow for most people. By far, the most important reason people get into crypto is the price advantage, not its usefulness. Crypto is useful in some applications, such as cheap global value transfers. But there are several practical disadvantages to using crypto for payments, mostly related to integration with the existing Financial Railroad. The user experience of using crypto to pay for goods has, frankly, been atrocious – with complicated fees, confirmation times and difficult units complicating the adoption struggle.
related: Mass adoption of blockchain technology is possible, and education is the key
There are no absolute analogies, but I think Crypto’s “multi-touch capacitive screen” is reimagining it as a means, not an end. The average person doesn’t care about crypto, they care about what it gives them. If you promise them lambos and moons, they will listen but it only takes you so far.
What if you use crypto to cut out the middleman between you and your money to give (almost) free transfers of money, forex, interest rates that a normal person can only expect to pay, and other benefits that will make Black cardholders jealous?
You can bet the average person will be interested.
This is the strategy we’ve adopted: a redeemable subscription fee providing access to a suite of useful financial, travel and lifestyle services, from mobile and web apps and even chat services like WhatsApp or Telegram. is easily accessible. We worked in two directions: to remove any friction of using our product and to make it extremely useful for all. Like the iPhone back in the day.
Of course, there is a long journey ahead. But if more projects in crypto operate out of the box and focus on utility, not just crypto for speculation, it could put us back on the path to mainstream adoption we started in 2017.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.
The views, opinions and opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Shaun Rachu He is the co-founder of Hi, a non-profit blockchain-based financial platform. Sean was the founding chief marketing officer of crypto exchange and card provider, Crypto.com. He also held senior roles at Prudential Corporation Asia, Ogilvy Hong Kong and Mobile Marketing Association. A business administration doctoral candidate at Warwick Business School, Sean has overseen the development of several innovative digital platforms, such as Safe Steps (with NatGeo and the Red Cross) and Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids (with Cartoon Network), and previously helped launch. Hallmark.com.