Mass adoption is the major goal of just about every cryptocurrency, and since right now we’re far from it, there are hundreds of different coins all vying for eventual dominance. However, a few key barriers to entry into the mass commercial market will likely sink the hopes and dreams of most projects. Here’s a few to look out for.
1: Consistent user experience
One of the largest drawbacks of decentralized networks is the potential inconsistency of output. Between miners, nodes, wallet providers and a host of other actors that contribute to making the ecosystem run. Because of this seemingly haphazard setup, the user experience can vary wildly. How long until a confirmation? Is zero-confirmation secure to use with this particular merchant on this particular day? What kind of fees will I be charged? What’s a mempool?
Centralized companies control their output by having a say in how each department runs, and manage natural fluctuations in order to deliver a smooth experience. The decentralized cryptocurrency that manages to provide both a positive and consistent user experience will win out big time.
2: Business infrastructure
Another key element missing from a wide adoption scenario is the necessary infrastructure for businesses to employ. To much of the crypto world has revolved around the unspoken assumption that enough exposure will make a coin widely used for commerce, and that the only meaningful integration is another big exchange that will pump the price and allow more new users to purchase some. Missing from this equation is the wide variety of services required for seamless commercial use, including a basic point-of-sale app with a tipping functionality, integrations into invoicing, accounting, payroll, easy conversion to fiat currency linked with other services, and, above all, tax calculations at every turn. Without these sorts of infrastructure solutions being actively developed in anticipation of wide commercial use, said use will never come.
When a company’s product doesn’t work as expected, you contact support and have everything sorted out. When a cryptocurrency doesn’t work, you have no one to turn to. This is a big problem, and while it’s a symptom of the decentralized world we’re attempting to live in, it still won’t do. Whichever cryptocurrency will scrape together the necessary funding to provide robust, multi-lingual support at all times will have a significant advantage over the rest.
Finally, the big buzzword of yesteryear: scaling. How a network can grow to accommodate millions of users is naturally at the forefront of the field, however there are more scaling questions that need to be answered. How many people can we realistically support? What will the user experience be like at high use levels? How will fees and a consistent experience scale? When do we expect mass use? Do we have the necessary infrastructure and plans in place right now to support a sudden tripling in use levels?
Right now, even the top cryptocurrencies are nowhere near a mass scaling event. When that happens, we will see which are the weak and which are the strong. It will be a small pool of survivors.