From clunky apps and slow transactions to best in class user experience, here’s our plan to bring decentralized apps to every mobile device. 👇
- While on-chain transactions remain slow and expensive, layer 2 solutions allow for a much better crypto experience
- Centralized crypto apps are already on their way to mass adoption
- We want to leverage their success to onboard the world in a decentralized future
- If you’re a mobile engineer, you can join us to execute on that plan 🚀
Where we are today
I’m the director of mobile engineering at Okcoin and I focus on the retail investor experience so when crypto-curious mobile engineers ask me how they can join us in the glorious Web3 revolution, I often show them this chart:
- The Y-axis represents the adoption rate of crypto products
- The X-axis represents the UX and technology advancement over the years
- The red line represents the trend of the centralized crypto apps adoption rate
- The blue line represents the trend of decentralized crypto apps adoption rate
The chart depicts four steps in the evolution of crypto mobile apps. I’ll explain first what these are, because our mobile strategy builds on them to bring decentralized crypto apps in the hands of everyone. 💪
Step 1: The decentralized app dark age
Look at the blue line from the bottom left. Why do you think it looks like this? Scientists and engineers have worked on improving the performance of blockchains for a while now but, to this day, on-chain transactions remain slow and are often expensive.
So, for mobile users who’ve been enjoying nicely designed and super fast Web2 apps for more than 10 years, the experience of using blockchain-based apps is often terrible. That’s why there’s almost no decentralized mobile app in the graph before point A.
Step 2: The rise of decentralized mobile apps
Enter layer 2 scaling solutions. By processing transactions outside of the blockchain’s base layer, these technologies combine the speed of Web2, the decentralized nature of blockchains, and the low fees everyone enjoys. They make mobile DApps finally usable. 🎉
From point A in the graph, the adoption rate of these mobile DApps increases, but then it slows down a bit. Here’s why: Between point A and point B, most crypto-curious users have been reached.
Meanwhile, for traditional users, learning crypto’s new concepts remains a big obstacle. Keep in mind that the problem isn’t so much the how – decentralized mobile DApps aren’t that hard to use anymore. The problem, rather, is the why. The tricky thing is that, once users learn some of crypto’s concepts, like that of account ownership, they enjoy using decentralized mobile apps much more.
So there’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem here: Users need to be onboarded to learn, but they need to learn to onboard. What do we do now?
Step 3: Mass adoption of centralized mobile crypto apps
Take a look at the red line on the graph. It represents the growth of centralized mobile crypto apps. Since the birth of Bitcoin, centralized mobile crypto apps have never stopped their upward adoption trajectory. There are good reasons for their success:
- Their sign-up flow uses credentials that customers are already familiar with, like emails and passwords
- Inside the centralized crypto app, customers can learn about different blockchains and cryptocurrencies
- Customers can use traditional payment flows to buy cryptocurrencies and even earn crypto rewards by depositing them
The more we improve the usability of these flows, the higher the adoption rate gets. Sooner or later, the red line will peak at point D where centralized mobile crypto apps reach mass adoption.
Step 4: Where to next?
These centralized mobile crypto apps can be used in at least two sorts of ways though. They can be built to keep users captive and reproduce the worst of Web2’s patterns.
But they can also be designed as gateways to a more decentralized future. We can use the nice experience of centralized apps to educate users about decentralization, let them test Web3 features, and cross-promote mobile DApps.
The adoption curve for mobile DApps is far from over. It still has lots of room to climb from point B to point C – and reach our goal of bringing decentralized mobile apps to the masses.
Step 5: Our plan to get there
Our strategy to achieve this goal comes with at least three preconditions. We need to:
- Ensure a smooth Web3 user experience, comparable to Web2’s. For that we need to use off-chain scaling solutions to ensure high throughput and low fees
- Educate customers about the benefits of decentralized technologies
- Embrace a mobile-first strategy to develop our crypto products
This agenda places our mobile engineers at the forefront of user experience innovation in the crypto industry. 😎
If that sounds exciting, look at our open roles or reach out directly to me, Yannick Zhang.