What Concerns Do Users have on Blockchain and Crypto
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June 4th, 2022

Why do users restrain from using blockchain? Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubts.

Internet have scams and frauds, but still a lot of users use it, because it offers a far greater benefits than without it. It not only goes through a stage overcoming fear, uncertainties, and doubts, but also goes through a stage where, without it, people feel “they can’t live anymore.” Internet creates a dependency where its users depends on it. Its users are mostly addicted to it. We can see, with terms like “internet sabbaticals”, “restricting internet access time” coming up days to days. How does people restraint from using web3?

Fear, uncertainties, and doubts. While there exist internet banking today, various precautions and safety are in place that provides a safe haven for users to use. By safe haven, one don’t mean somewhere that’s absolutely safe. Password digest transferred through the internet isn’t absolutely safe, nor are password saved inside a database risk being hacked. A safe haven is somewhere where users find their community, where users can stop worrying about the various headaches of forgetting their passwords, of the security, etc. It’s something more emotional than logical.

Considering blockchain. We assign the responsibility of each users to themselves, that they would keep their ledger safe, that they would keep their secure passphrase safe, that they won’t forget what their secure passphrase is. Not every users know how to put their password in Excel and encrypt their Excel file. Not every users have the thoughts of backing things up. And as a human, if we can stop worrying about something and assign that responsibility to somebody else, we tend to. We’re in favor of someone holding responsibility for us, so when things goes wrong, we can blame them than ourselves. It’s their fault, not ours, to lose our stuffs. We have something more important to care about, and we had already reassign these attention-demanding passwords and security to some experts and trustible entity to keep them for us. Blockchain tries to assign the responsibility back to the users that causes upheaval: a fear that they would lose their password and no one to back them up, no one there to help them, and they are in the water themselves, no one to save them.

Human lives as a team, a group, a collective beings. For most of us, we derive our security from external situations: either it be some materials, or another human being, usually someone close to us. It’s a miracle for us, deriving security from external circumstances, to take responsibility for ourselves, which derives internal security (or assigning security to our Gods), to keep something secure ourselves, without a “Forget your Password?” button to back things up.

End users doubt the need of a blockchain. If things could be easily accessible in the familiar web2, why do we need web3 for? The design nowadays is replacing database (the backend) with smart contracts; and it has nothing to do with the frontend. What displays to users is similar to web2, except with extra buttons to click (signing transactions), extra time to wait (confirming transactions in slower-finality-chain like Ethereum). There are no large-enough benefits that people could see using a blockchain technology if they could achieve the same in current day technology. NFT offers a unique collectible when booking a hotel, booking a flight, etc, and collect after it’s used, to remember where you had been to and what happy moments you’ve had. For myself, one doesn’t feel so.

An NFT is a viewable entity. Perhaps additionally, it’s listenable entity. Visual and audio. As a kinesthetic learner myself, it triggers only if it could be touched. Holding a ticket to a zoo with a close friend of mine, one feels the emotional attachment via the ticket to one’s friend. Collecting a chocolate box gifted by ones’ friends, one could take out each unexpirable unthrown wrapper, after eating the expirable chocolate, just enjoying its touch. A hug with a close friends worth more than half an hour of deep conversations, video call. A physical book enhances my senses from feeling asleep, to focus on reading the book. Certainly, an NFT can replace a physical collectible if others aren’t kinesthetic; but a lacking in sense of touch reduces its emotional impact especially to kinesthetic learners. If an physical object that triggers a deeper emotion, offering its sense of sight, smell, taste, hear, and touch; what’s the point choosing one lying on the web with less surface area, offering only sense of sight and hear?

Blockchain aims for transparency and immutability at the very least. For victims to gated-data and mutable-histories, it strengthen their believes, that blockchain is the way, to change what’s available today. For oneself, whom have difficulty and refuses to work more than 40 hours per week (I’m looking for work btw) and a difficulty to get paid via banks, remote works + cryptocurrency is the way to change. Not for others.

For most people, perhaps they may dream of what they want to become, but end up as a normal worker. A normal worker nowadays are quite “busy”, and they don’t have time to think about what they want to become, or even climbing up the ladder of success, if there is one that they can climb. Someone numb to work, that work is only for the money, that we wish for something else outside of work, that we work for others because we refuse to think of what work we can do ourselves, because we want someone to keep us responsible. Startups are rare: it follows more workers joining a startup than there are co-founders and founders of a startup. It follows that failed startups may continue to not giving up, or they join as workers to successful startups. So, co-founders and founders are rare.

Blockchain is mostly remote work. Yes, you can pay people via blockchain, just like paying people via banks, for physical work. But what for? Ignore the fact that most shop don’t accept cryptocurrencies yet; even if they do, fiat currency does fine today. Most people can settle for the average and use fiat. If there are no intense fluctuations in currency, especially in their local currency and not USD which most crypto-stablecoin pins to, plus a countrywide mass adoption, they could interchangeably use crypto or fiat, depending on what they have. If people can don’t think about a choice, people choose to not think about them, for they want to focus their attention on something else that worth their attention*.*

A choice between crypto and fiat isn’t worth layman’s attention. If their boss pays them in mass-adopted crypto, they use crypto. If their boss pays them in fiat, they just use fiat. Who wants to swap their fiat, except for crypto enthusiasts and researching individuals whom can prove that crypto benefits more than fiat, if they need to pay for swap fee? They already earn quite little, for most people below the US average earnings, and exchanges from crypto to fiat eats more from their barely-enough income? Even saving the extra 0.1% can cause a difference in their life circumstances.

Payment in cryptocurrency are indeed easier. You can pay and receive anywhere, without worrying whether PayPal restrict your country from receiving payments, or you aren’t living in the 200+ countries supported. All you need is internet access. Furthermore, inserting a card detail during online payment is not easier than creating a wallet and sign a transaction; indeed the former is more difficult while the latter is a one-off. It’s similar to one-off setup PayPal, except with more benefits. Not every site supports PayPal either, like not every site supports cryptocurrency payment. If only buying crypto with fiat is that easy.

Not every of us is gritty (you read Angela Duckworth’s “Grit” book?): for an obstacle that takes too much attention and effort we’re willing to exert and overcome, we shall back up and give up. That’s for the average human. If we could pay something easier with bank transfer or PayPal, already readily supported, what’s the point of first trying (with tremendous effort) porting our money to crypto and make the payment? Especially if your country doesn’t support crypto to fiat (and vice versa) exchanges: and if you gone through annoying processes that involve governments (so many forms and fields in a form to fill, be it related or unrelated, necessary or unnecessary; and even so, things doesn’t process sufficiently fast hence a long wait or a noreply for too long), fiat is a government-issued currency, so similar process you might go through even if your country supports crypto-fiat exchanges.

Remember, blockchain tries to solve a different problem. It’s not clear that the problem it tries to solve: transparency and immutability, is applicable to all of us. Sure, we do want transparency of how Facebook and Google and Amazon and Microsoft uses our data: we want to know if they misuse our data. For most of us though, we prefer signing up with half-true-half-fake information, so even if they misuse these information, it isn’t fatal. For unless you need the annoying KYC that triggers a nerve in most people’s vein, just entering information, be it true or fake, doesn’t affect much. Facebook don’t really care if you enter a fake Birthday; they trust you to be truthful with the information you send; but if you cannot trust them, don’t use your real information! They trust you not to touch adult content if you haven’t reach legal age: which with parent’s supervision, it’s more than sufficient to turn on a “safe-search” equivalent for their children. Oh, they use your data to train a machine learning model? Go ahead and train man, we don’t care.

See, without a specific cause, most people don’t have the time and attention to care how their data is being used. We created blockchain to raise awareness for those whom don’t care, that if they noticed in news or somewhere, they could join in and fight for how their data is used. But when they aren’t aware, which most aren’t nowadays; they doubt whether there’s a need for blockchain. Those caring about transparency holds responsibility for the rest of us whom don’t care a s**t of how it’s used. As long as a person don’t feel treated unfairly, usually its a none-of-their-business. There are far too many things to care about, most just choose to ignore small things that aren’t in their priority list. Unless we built a sufficiently easy-to-use platform with extra benefits that they can migrate to with ease, people tend to use whatever they can now.

For one, fluctuations is not a priority. Maybe it is for some people, not me. And, given how much of us procrastinate… If one person could continue using Chrome without interventing their lives, they won’t migrate to Brave. Wow, it’s easy to migrate to Brave, just two clicks to migrate the saved cookies, plus logging in again on Brave to all that wasn’t log in? Well, if one continues to use Chrome, one don’t have to go through the hassle of trying to remember a password that either save somewhere or maybe already forgotten hence requires clicking “Reset your password” button migrating to Brave. If one is someone whom loves to procrastinate, one wouldn’t want to go through even clicking to download Brave browser. 30 seconds setup is a lot of time which one could lay down in bed for 30 more seconds. Something that’s done once, enough is enough. Migration to something else means doing the “one-off” stuff once again.

Btw, one is using Brave browser lol.

Nowadays, blockchain adopters are crypto investors, crypto lovers, blockchain enthusiast (from end-users to developers to other sectors). It’s known that most people still doesn’t put a feet in blockchain’s water, with their fear, uncertainties, and doubts of what benefits blockchain can bring, and whether they even need the benefits or they could live without it. One is new to Mirror; but have you read articles on read.cash or publish0x? They’re flooded with “Bitcoin”, “Crypto”, “some kinds of altcoins”, and anything that’s related to “Finance”: which are just boring articles. Where are the articles talking about nature? Where are those talking about some music? Where are those talking about self-improvements? These other sectors are what makes Medium strong; and you expect a normal user, whom want to search for a new recipe they can cook tonight, but not available on Web3 blogging pages, to use web3?

And crypto terms!!! What is FUD, what is HODL, what is staking, what is proof-of-work? End users don’t care a s**t about these terms!!! An interface or an article that uses too much of these terms only attract those who can understand it, and shock those whom cannot. The latter, if you try to convince them again in the future, would have a bad first impression preventing them from re-adoption. The use of new blockchain terms integrated into the web2 interface is not fascinating. The aim is designing something that even someone whom don’t watch the news (like me) can onboard. For example, one don’t even know what’s ledger, and one thought that web3 is a website with 3-D effects, when one first heard about it last December. Expect to design some wallet with words that everyone could understand.

And staking? It’s like a saving for banks “locked saving accounts”. Well, flexible savings is the way to go; locked isn’t. And what’s this:

NEAR (Protocol) Wallet selecting Validator to Stake with
NEAR (Protocol) Wallet selecting Validator to Stake with

This requires user research on which one are trustworthy. And how does banks does it? Well, just transfer into a saving account and the bank will do the backend stuffs, either lending your money to whoever it is or lending your money to whoever it is. (ahem, deliberately repeated.) Users should not care about who to delegate to: as end-users love someone professional to take responsibility for them, to stake their tokens to someone trustworthy, and that their tokens won’t be “slashed” (lost). This is an example of giving end-users too much choice. With too much choice comes too difficult its usage. That’s why Ruby on Rails onboard more amateur programmers: they don’t have to worry about what name to give to a database, and many more default values/names that they don’t need to care about (especially for one whom have difficulty creating good, understandable names).

For if we want to onboard users to use Web3, we could. We have taken the smooth steps so, when they onboard a web3 website, they see things that are familiar (web2) frontend and not even notice they’re using web3 technologies. For end users whom want to onboard the blockchain, something that they could easily find and takes “zero effort” to onboard is the way. Not something that they need to search deep into Google page 87 before finding it; not something that they need to pay for storage cost initially (as a fan of NEAR Protocol, this “initial storage cost requirement” is what one would say, prevent people from onboarding blockchain, unless there’s a friend to send them some onboarding money, which they not necessary have the courage to request for especially for introverts or shy-er people). Blockchain are for the majority: not the minority crypto investors, and it’s time to think how we can design that.

(photos taken from pexels or unsplash)


Extra Talks

Some users like to have a little thinking rather than totally blind. Blockchain frontend just gives too much flexibility for users to think, in most cases. The “how much is comfortable” requires on-the-spot experiment with real users and real use cases to test out, with feedback from real users.

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