Cryptocurrencies have evolved considerably since Bitcoin began over ten years ago. Like a timeline through history, certain events have shaped the digital financial landscape based upon the blockchain, and because of these different directions, tribalism and factions have formed.
But, these factions have formed because of the philosophical standpoints of what people believe cryptocurrencies should be. The Bitcoin Cash hard fork – and subsequent fork – was because of a disagreement of what it means to be digital cash.
Is Bitcoin a store of value, an investable asset, a digital gold? or is it, as the white paper states, ‘a peer-to-peer electronic cash system’? These philosophical debates will continue to rage, but what is mostly agreed upon is cryptocurrencies need to become more mainstream.
Citizens of the globe are recognising their potential, and even businesses are identifying the possibilities of blockchain technology in their enterprise. However, neither cryptocurrencies, blockchain, or a combination of both, have had their breakthrough moment and achieved mass adoption.
Cryptocurrencies came close, especially when they were rallying to higher and higher prices, but that is a double-edged sword as the direction taken by peoples’ speculative investing led to a ceiling of adoption.
A social revolution
When Facebook was launched, it went through a good few years of obscurity while people grappled with the idea of posting their lives on the internet for friends and followers to see. Soon, young college students took to it and found it a useful tool around campus to keep in touch, and from there, the social media wildfire started.
Social media is now so commonplace that, if we look at Facebook again, it has almost become obsolete; coming round in full circle. As one of the original major social media platforms, Facebook has become of a space for older people who have grown in to the technology because it has evolved to be incredibly user-friendly.
This is key to mass adoption and is what Dash CEO, Ryan Taylor was getting at with this tweet:
The reply from Taylor is to Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, who was taking part in a Lightning Network experiment; passing of a proverbial torch along the second-layer scaling solution.
This news was incredibly exciting and well reported. A significant tech leader like Dorsey engaging in a scaling solution for a blockchain that would help in making digital payments more accessible and adoptable.
But Taylor is right, in his sarcasm; how does that long list of number and letters, relating to a second-layer scaling solution upon a blockchain help someone who battles with a TV remote. This is not ready for mass adoption.
Social media has laid a platform and a blueprint for a technology that is genuinely all-inclusive and understandable.
A tool for growth
Michael Dunn of Magic Social, a well known Instagram service for growing followers, believes the cross over between social media growth and adoption to blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption is quite similar.
“If you look at social media today, some common themes are running throughout. It is about user-friendly platforms, ease of two-way communication, and being connected and reachable to anyone in the world. Now take those same attributes, and you can see similar things in cryptocurrencies,” said Dunn.
“The current difficulty that cryptocurrencies need to fix is their user-friendliness, I know there are some wallets and cryptos that are trying to launch systems where you send crypto to email addresses rather than wallet addresses, which may sound trivial, but that long line of numbers and letters is intimidating for someone who is new to it.”
“The way social media allows for people to communicate with each other anywhere, regardless of who they are, political or social constructs or other barriers – it’s the same with cryptocurrencies with their borderless transactions, and so cryptocurrency transacting should really be taking a leaf out of social media’s communication network,” added Dunn.
Find a direction
Part of the problem with cryptocurrencies hitting their ceiling in regards to adoption is that they are still struggling to find an exact direction. Social media has always had one goal, and that is connectivity, whereas cryptocurrencies have so many iterations all trying to do different things.
Their decentralised nature, so often a positive, is also holding many of them back from finding their identity. Looking at Bitcoin, it began as a payment system for the dark web, then got a little fame and grew in value which led to people holding on to it, then the price bubble popped and left the crypto a little caught in between.
But, as it stands today, blockchain’s only real killer application has been its cryptocurrency usage, if this can become more directed and focused – on being an actual working currency, hopefully, the infrastructure around it will build on the social media blueprint and force the mass adoption that it has the potential to achieve.