More retail investors are looking to get into cryptocurrency, but the learning curve is steep. From exchanges, wallets, portfolio and risk management tools, it’s not easy for new investors to grasp and get started.
When crypto first became a big thing, perhaps when Ethereum hit the scene, investors believing in the future of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology were willing to overcome the difficulties in order participate in its growth, but these far from streamlined applications could easily prevent widespread adoption.
Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer at security technology firm ThreatMetrix, explains:
As with any industry, the exchanges that flourish will be the ones offering the best online experience and the easiest authentication process, all without compromising user safety and security.
Consumers have become used to interfaces offering the best ease of use – from banking applications to music streaming, they’ve learned to expect more. While all of these industries have had several years to learn how best to appeal to mainstream consumers, the cryptocurrency industry will need to learn how to do it as good or better – and in a far shorter time frame – while still adhering to incredibly strict regulations outside of their control.
This is a difficult challenge to overcome as regulations become increasingly complex.
According to Paul Brody, EY global innovation blockchain leader:
Right now the biggest problem is that companies in the cryptocurrency space are new to the whole work of KYC (know-your-customer) verification. There are no quick passes around the regulatory structure that is in place today for KYC and anti-money-laundering rules. This puts firms that already have verified customer relationships in a position of key advantage.
Cryptocurrency platforms are also limited by the framework put in place by government agencies. For example, users are currently unable to purchase cryptocurrencies with their credit card, but what platforms can do is make their interface more obvious, simplified, less cluttered, faster, and more secure all at once. Even a single frustrating experience can turn away a potential investor for months.
In the past, it was acceptable to place security responsibilities on the user, but to reach mainstream adoption, crypto platforms will need to offer these solutions themselves. Rather than reacting to threats, preventative and proactive measures will better capture consumer trust. Being able to identify threats and malicious actors in real time, or as close to that as possible, will go a long way in adding to user security without compromising the user experience. The less the user is forced to do on their own, the better it is for adoption.
According to Sarah Mills, Design Director at ConsenSys and formerly IBM:
Growing pains like the Cryptokitties congestion crisis back in December 2017 was rough on some of the infrastructure teams, but it brought a lot more casual users into the space and forced a lot of teams to reevaluate their user experience.
Surprisingly, companies like Coinbase have found that despite the heavy reliance on technology, there are areas where human elements create far more value. In customer disputes, for example, simply adding more support agents has allowed them to maximize on the unprecedented growth in the cryptocurrency space and increase consumer demand by 4000%.
Coinbase is one of the most established platforms in the cryptocurrency space, so following this example may prove to be crucial for other platforms seeking to become another major player in the space.
Looking at the above chart on strategies, most cryptocurrency platforms will be “followers” meaning they don’t have the luxury of building up slowly. As various methods prove effective, they need to be integrated into the platform quickly to ensure they comply not only with regulations, but to consumer needs as well. Any new platform or service can greatly benefit from focusing on customer experience versus offering an abundance of services. Offer a quality service first, then build up to provide more offerings.
Mills sums it up perfectly:
We can’t realize the decentralized future if we are not designing for and solving problems that people actually have.
The cryptocurrency space is expanding rapidly, and with it, the days of “if you build it, they will come” have passed. New players will have a harder time entering the market and existing players will have to optimize their operations, which means developing tools that are easier to use.
The ones that succeed will capture more users and will raise the bar for everyone else. This is the time to raise the bar on UX and those who anticipate that need will mark the pace of the near future.