Bitcoin is now more than a decade old, and while El Salvador recently became the first country to accept the digital coin as a currency, usage is still largely limited to enthusiasts, speculators, and some institutional investors.
The biggest barrier is the difficulty of entry. New users need to open a wallet, purchase tokens on an unfamiliar platform, and then wonder what they’re supposed to do with the currencies they’ve acquired. Yat Sui, co-founder of Animoca Brands, a blockchain gaming company, has compared the onboarding process to the form-filling and bureaucracy involved in opening a bank account. But we know why we need a bank account and what we can do with it. It’s not entirely clear to everyone why we also need a digital wallet.
As long as the challenge of onboarding is clearer than the benefits, cryptocurrency usage will always struggle to grow into the mainstream.
A number of businesses have tried to make it easier. Paypal, in the United States at least, allows users to buy and hold four different cryptocurrencies, although you can’t exchange them for goods or services. Exchanges like Coinbase and Gemini have worked hard to reduce sign-up and purchase to no more than a handful of short forms and clicks. Funds, such as Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, let investors enjoy Bitcoin’s rise without having to create a special wallet, and it’s always possible to buy shares in blockchain-invested companies such as Tesla, whose price movements are influenced at least in part by the value of cryptocurrencies.
Other companies, though, are trying a different approach that enables users to collect cryptocurrencies without purchasing them at all. Magic Dust Miners gives users tokens for completing activities, such as talking in the company’s Telegram community. The program launched on the Wax blockchain and gives users 0.5 Dust ($0.015) each time they send a message. Users who also hold Dust NFTs receive a multiple of those earnings.