The crypto industry is still waiting on its ‘iPhone moment.

The user experience is the most important innovation brought by the iPhone. This is what the crypto space must adopt.
A great crypto cycle has been in full swing this year with new highs, euphoria, and mainstream media giving lip service to the crypto trend of the moment. The uncomfortable truth is that crypto is not as prevalent in people’s everyday lives today as it was in 2017. Four years have passed. What has slowed its progress? 2017 was my first professional venture into the blockchain space. I joined Crypto.com (then called Monaco) as its first chief market officer. The company grew to be one of the most important crypto service providers and fiat/crypto gateways in the globe. Many projects aimed at adoption of crypto have been overlooked and payments are less important. The spotlight has been shifted to Decentralized Finance (DeFi) as well as nonfungible tokens, but they are unable to help the real-world in any meaningful way. This situation reminds me of the mobile market before the advent and revolution led by Steve Jobs. The technology and features were being stacked upon each other, but there was no impact for the end user, despite all the buzz. People often misunderstand that Apple didn’t “invent” the iPhone. There were many innovations that made it so popular. Some people believe it was apps and the App store. Others say it was Gorilla Glass and the touchscreen. It was 3G (actually the first iPhone didn’t even have it), Wi-Fi, the camera, and the comfortable size. All of these features were already available in other phones in some way. Nokia had Symbian OS, which featured a rich ecosystem of apps. The same thing goes 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/iMessages. Palm was not the only company making pocket computers with stylus touchscreens. Nokia excelled in camera phones and predictive texts, while Motorola dazzled everyone by its Razr’s design. The iPhone’s only innovation was the user experience (UX), specifically the multi-touch capacitive touchscreen. The iPhone introduced gestures, QWERTY keyboards on-screen, and the basic smartphone design that we all know today. However, nothing else in it was new. It was simply the ultimate phone. Steve Jobs stated at the time that it was “an iPod, a phone and an internet communicator… not three distinct devices.” This is one device” — it was simple to use, sleek, and attractive, with lots of features. The rest, as they say is history. Crypto adoption should be viewed as the means and not the end. The vast majority of people think about utility and cost before any idealistic concerns. Although organic food is a niche, it has its place. Most people purchase food based on the cost and taste. Electric cars struggle because they offer a significant number of practical disadvantages and because they’re generally much more expensive.Positioning crypto as an amazing tool for financial freedom and decentralization will ring hollow to most people. The main reason people are interested in crypto is not its utility, but price gains. Some applications of crypto are useful, such as the cheap global transfer value. There are some drawbacks to using cryptocurrency for payments. These include the integration with existing financial systems. The user experience with crypto for paying for stuff has been quite poor. There are complicated fees, confirmation times, and difficult units. Education is the key. While there are no perfect analogies, I believe that the multi-touch capacitive screen of crypto is redefining it as a means and not an end. The average person doesn’t care about crypto as such, but what it offers them. You can promise them Lambos or moons but they won’t listen unless you tell them. We took two steps: we removed any friction in using our product and made it extremely useful for everyone. It is still a long road ahead, just like the iPhone. It would be great if more crypto projects focused on utility, not just speculation, to get us back on the path to mainstream adoption that we started in 2017. This article does not contain any investment advice or recommendations. This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Sean was the founder and chief marketing officer at Crypto.com, a crypto exchange and card provider. He has also held senior positions at Ogilvy Hong Ko and Prudential Corporation Asia. Sean is a Warwick Business School doctoral candidate in Business Administration. He has overseen the development and launch of many innovative digital platforms such as Safe Steps (with NatGeo, Red Cross and Cha-Ching Money Smart Kids) and Hallmark.com.

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