“You’ve gotta start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology.”
— Steve Jobs, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, 1997.
The key to mass adoption of cryptocurrencies is the advent of Distributed Applications (dApps) that solve real problems for millions of people.
And the most-successful coins will be those that do the best job of supporting those killer dApps, such as EOS, NEO, Cardano and possibly new ones yet to be launched.
Here’s the key question of this era:
To create the most popular dApps of tomorrow, do you start with the technology? Or do you start with the vision?
In other words, do you let software developers lead the way to what they think are the most “cool, awesome” bells and whistles? Or do you search for the big idea that could truly change the world for the better?
Apple, the world’s first trillion-dollar company, was driven by the vision. But unfortunately, most cryptocurrencies we review today are bogged down in the technology.
Steve Jobs made it absolutely clear. You don’t start with “Let’s sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and then how are we’re going to market that?”
But Charles Hoskinson, one of the more-renowned developers in the space, seems to disagree. He claims that the “vision-thing” is secondary. He says the famed “Silicon Valley model” — getting a great product into the hands of as many people as possible — doesn’t work for crypto because you can’t afford to let anything go wrong.
We side with Steve Jobs. No one denies the importance of quality control in the world of crypto technology. But that doesn’t alter the immutable reality that USERS DON’T CARE about what’s under the hood.
This is critical because the success or failure of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) — and cryptocurrencies in general — depends on whether or not these technologies are able to solve problems that regular people have every day.
That’s not happening yet. Most people are still stumped by the whole concept of cryptocurrencies. They don’t know why they need them or what they can do with them. Their most-common refrain: “We already have money. So why should we care about this digital asset thing you’re so excited about?”
Whether they’re right or wrong is not the issue here. What’s important is they don’t see value in something they can’t relate to.
Even in developing-world countries, where the need for cryptocurrencies is theoretically great, adoption remains low. Even in countries like Argentina, Turkey and Venezuela — where the value of fiat currencies is evaporating at an accelerated pace — few are buying crypto.
Why? Because of …
Obvious, Practical Obstacles to Adoption
Users get lost in the technicalities and intricacies of managing alphanumeric private keys.
They get confounded by the process of storing the keys in a safe place.
They’re terrified by the thought of losing all their savings because of a memory lapse, and rightly so!
Yet that’s the state of the art of DLT today.
Is this a hopeless situation? Has crypto technology failed to deliver before it even started? Not at all.
The key to mass adoption of distributed ledgers is not who has the best coin, or the best software protocol. It’s who creates the best application.
Distributed Applications (dApps) were the concept introduced with the creation of Ethereum. And they are the absolute essence of what will drive this technology to the masses.
Thingscan be done with distributed ledgers that people will find fascinating and WILL want to use.
There’s just one problem: Nobody has built one yet.
We don’t develop dApps ourselves. Nor are we the first to present these concepts. But by pooling thoughts from multiple experts — both inside and outside the crypto space — we have come up with three major areas where we believe some true killer dApps are likely to emerge …
Killer dApp concept #1
Decentralized Social Media
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are running into two monster problems that could eventually usher in their doom: security and censorship.
Reason: There’s an inherent conflict of interest between management and users.
Managers are responsive to the demands of shareholders, advertisers and governments.
Whether at YouTube, Facebook or Twitter, their rationale is that they’re private companies. So this gives them the right to decide who speaks on their platforms and who doesn’t.
OK. But even if this argument is technically valid, the fact remains that users don’t care. They’re still unhappy and abandoning social media platforms like Facebook by the millions.
Crypto-based social media fundamentally solves this issue by handing the platform’s control over to the community.
In this decentralized model, users own their data, control their own content and get paid directly by users who want to view it. The middleman is replaced with smart contracts. And the influence that advertisers have over social media is removed.
Early DLT social media experiments like Kin and Steem have a long way to go in order to provide a fluid and friendly user experience. But they already stand as solid evidence that, when given the choice, most people will prefer social media sites they directly control and benefit from.
Killer dApp concept #2
Critics of the crypto space often argue fiat money can’t be replaced with cryptocurrencies because banks would still be needed as a primary source of credit.
True, capital formation and credit markets are fundamental to modern economies. But the idea that banks must play the pivotal role as intermediaries for all or most loans could soon be outdated. Smart contracts will be far more efficient — especially when it comes to large quantities of small consumer and business loans.
Borrowers of all stripes will have access to funding. And with a few clicks of a mouse, lenders will be able to select the combination of return, risk level and term they’re seeking.
Ultimately, a new financial system will evolve in which individuals anywhere can act as a microbank, providing credit to businesses halfway across the world — all without intermediaries and in real time.
Killer dApp concept #3
Given how essential elections are for modern democracies, it never ceases to amaze us how vulnerable and inefficient they can be. We see:
(1) Widespread vulnerability to fraud and meddling.
Especially in emerging democracies, everything from voter eligibility to final vote counts (and recounts) are often controlled by corrupt officials behind closed doors. Teams of international observers are dispatched to the polls. Fortunes are spent on monitoring. But still, irregularities are frequent.
(2) Major legal battles in the wake of close elections.
Even in advanced countries, close elections are routinely challenged in the courts, which, in turn, are not designed to counter public allegations of manipulation and cheating. The 2000 U.S. presidential election is just one of the most memorable among hundreds of documented cases.
(3) Other major controversies surrounding referendums, representation and more.
DLT has the potential to resolve most of these problems most of the time. This is thanks to three major advantages …
(1) Transparency. Voting occurs with a decentralized internet protocol where no actor is able to fudge or manipulate the vote tally. The results are transparent and known to everyone with an internet connection in real time.
(2) Virtually indisputable election results. High-level mathematics are deployed to validate each vote and ensure the accuracy of election results overall. Disputes are reduced to a small fraction of what’s common today.
(3) Broader participation and accountability. Distributed ledgers that can tally and record votes in real time not only enable greater participation, but they also create more efficient accountability of elected officials.
These are the most promising concepts we know about today. Other killer dApps and even more advanced crypto platforms are also on the way.
Author: Juan M. Villaverde
Image Credit: iStock/RichVintage
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