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To Accelerate Cryptocurrency Adoption, We Must First Improve User Experience

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Only with increasing difficulty can one recall a time when the majority of the world was yet to adopt the internet. In 1995, user adoption of the internet had​ ​only reached​ 10% of American households, five years after the very first web browser was launched. Another five years later, in the year 2000, 50% of the United States nation had already adopted the internet.

Imagining today’s world without internet is simply unfathomable and, in the future, the same will be said about cryptocurrency. The technologies fostered by the crypto industry are often considered the most disruptive and paradigm-shifting advancements since the birth of the internet itself. They are quickly transforming the way people interact, trade, and gain autonomy of their own wealth and assets.

In the early 90s, internet adoption was slow. Newly developed networks struggled with concerns of scalability, privacy and ease of use. Today, we are witnessing these same key issues with cryptocurrencies and blockchains. In order to accelerate mainstream adoption, we must wear the hat of a user experience designer, because only then will we see cryptocurrencies reach their full potential across the globe.

Cryptocurrencies must first be simplified

Crypto is no simple concept. The industry is trying to squeeze a new technology into traditional patterns of finance. This may be easy for some, but definitely not for the majority.

Firstly, it’s important to communicate why there are key differences between traditional fiat money, such as euros, dollars, pounds, etc., and crypto, such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), etc. Most people don’t understand that Bitcoin is a decentralized and global digital currency not backed by a central entity and immune to government interference.

This year, the United States Federal Reserve pumped ​trillions of dollars​ into the nation’s economy, which will have consequences at a later date when inflation inevitably rises. Bitcoin, on the other hand, has a limited supply. With a set maximum, it is anti-inflationary. This means that over time, it increases in value.

Nodes and hash rate aside, we need to better educate the public on how understanding and adopting cryptocurrency does not need to be complicated. What holds many people back is their lack of understanding of things like crypto wallets and private keys. But we need to explain to users that using crypto is easy, accessible and highly beneficial.

At the same time, it’s important to communicate that this is not just a crypto versus traditional banking scenario — banks and institutions are also integrating cryptocurrencies into their systems. We are all adopting crypto together.

Many cryptocurrency exchanges are building strong relationships with banks across the world, and a variety of traditional institutions are also educating their users on the many advantages of crypto. Take PwC for example, which publishes a yearly ​Crypto Hedge Fund Report ​that aims to encourage the adoption of sound practices as this innovative space matures. Meanwhile, banks like ING are regularly investing in ​research​ to educate their users on the “money revolution.”

Accessing cryptocurrency must be an intuitive user experience

What’s holding back a large majority of people from entering this space is the perceived complexities of onboarding. Right now, it is those who understand the inner workings of cryptocurrency technology that are reaping the benefits of its value. New users should not be excluded just because they lack the awareness of how to access more than one form of finance.

Users need to feel confident that even if they use Bitcoin, a stablecoin or another cryptocurrency, they can exchange their funds for fiat at their convenience. Crypto debit cards now serve as a solution to meet this demand. Cash can be just as easily accessed from a crypto ATM as it is from a traditional bank account holding fiat.

New users lack the confidence that this is possible. We need to help them become comfortable with purchasing and trading crypto, which is why onboarding users with easy-to-use applications is key. The beauty of crypto is being able to access different types of currencies all in the one place.

It is up to the crypto community to simplify the process of onboarding by making it as convenient as accessing traditional finance from an everyday bank. Do email users need to understand the inner workings of their email systems? No. All they need to know is that it is a reliable communication tool. Helping users understand the process is essential to a positive onboarding experience. The process must be intuitive, and it must make sense.

The crypto ecosystem must be more convenient than existing technology

For users to adopt crypto, there must be a need for it. What’s the point of transitioning to a new kind of money if my existing bank account does the job? What is the need in the market for learning and adopting new forms of finance?

It took a worldwide pandemic, intensified political conflict and other macroeconomic factors for people to realize we have less control over our own finances than we thought. Traditional fiat can be invested and spent in ways that are out of our control, through decisions that are often detrimental to others. We know too well from past financial crises that we cannot control the value of our money when it is in traditional fiat. Cryptocurrencies offer greater autonomy over where we choose to invest, bringing financial control back to the people.

Crypto also provides users with the power to earn back crypto on purchases through a new ecosystem of “cryptoback” reward systems. It is only now that we are seeing more attractive membership and cashback benefits that have been missing from crypto since the birth of the currency, but it is important to match what traditional fiat has to offer and go a level further. Traditional fiat reward systems usually reimburse “rewards” that are often limited to airline miles and other reward systems.

Crypto cashback, on the other hand, offers the opportunity to earn a percentage of your transaction value back in Bitcoin. When it is more attractive to hold rather than spend Bitcoin, creating reward systems like crypto cashbacks without the need to visit the bank makes crypto adoption more intuitive.

These kinds of currencies are also borderless — if you can access an ATM that takes MasterCard or Visa, then you can access your finances. This significantly lowers the fees of cross-border transactions and makes accessing your money instant wherever you are.

Mainstream Bitcoin adoption is inevitable, and those who are late to the party may miss out on purchasing these in-demand assets at affordable investment levels. Cryptocurrency exchanges offer an opportunity for users to access a variety of currencies from stablecoins over fiat to cryptocurrencies, improving the accessibility of greater financial freedom and multi-currency trade.

Communicating this will be key. How we shape the experience for new users will determine the speed of Bitcoin adoption by mainstream finance. Everyone deserves the right to access these transformative forms of finance. 

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Jonathan Leong is the CEO and a co-founder of BTSE, a financial technology company utilizing Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technology to empower financial freedom. He has more than 20 years of experience in developing high-performance, mission-critical systems. Over the past six years, he has built many successful ventures by fusing his deep knowledge of technology with business opportunities.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/to-accelerate-cryptocurrency-adoption-we-must-first-improve-user-experience

Blockchain

Eyeing EU Banks, Hex Trust Teams With SIA on Crypto Custody

A multinational payments firm is partnering with cryptocurrency custodian Hex Trust to help its European banking clients hold digital assets.

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Multinational payments firm Sia is partnering with cryptocurrency custodian Hex Trust to help its European banking clients hold digital assets.

“When you have one bitcoin, it’s not a big problem, but when you start adding 10, 20 or 100, you have a treasury and you have to decide where to store this,” said Daniele Savarè, SIA’s innovation and business solutions director. “We are discussing digital custody needs with banks in Europe.” 

The firm is also helping banks manage and safekeep security tokens and central bank digital currencies, he added.

Through SIA, Hex Trust plans to offer European banks the software to custody digital assets on behalf of their customers. Hex Trust will also act as a sub-custodian for banks that don’t want to directly offer the service, said Hex Trust CEO Alessio Quaglini. 

Currently, Hex Trust works with three banks – Mason Privatbank Liechtenstein AG and two unnamed Asian banks. Quaglini said Hex Trust has 10 other banks that are exploring the custodian’s products.

Going forward, SIA will be the primary distribution partner for Hex Trust to offer digital-asset services to banks in Europe, Quaglini said. 

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/hex-trust-sia-crypto-custody-eu-banks

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Blockchain

Collider Labs Raises $1M to Invest in Blockchain Startups

The venture builder is seeking to invest in early-stage startups with a focus on transparency, privacy and “fairness.”

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Collider Labs has raised $1 million to be invested in early-stage blockchain and cryptocurrency startups.

In an announcement Thursday, the venture builder said the raise had brought on board several notable limited partners including Efficient Frontier CTO Alon Elmaliah and Follow [the] Seed Founding Partner Andrey Shirben.

Collider provides funding and liquidity and actively participates in building up startups alongside their communities and founders, according to the firm’s founding partner, Avishay Ovadia.

The company is actively seeking to invest in early-stage blockchain and crypto startups globally, with a focus transparency, privacy and “fairness.”

Collider “is a venture builder that somewhat resembles an accelerator” Ovadia said. With some “key characteristics” that differentiate it from a typical accelerator.

Venture builders, also known as startup studios, pair with early-stage startups and utilize their own ideas and resources to, if all goes according to plan, construct viable enterprises.

According to Ovadia, Collider forms partnerships with founders, invests in teams and works alongside them as what he calls “Investors in Residence.”

Source: https://www.coindesk.com/collider-labs-raises-1m-to-invest-in-blockchain-startups

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Voyager Agrees to Buy LGO Markets and Merge 2 Firms’ Tokens

Two cryptocurrency trading firms are merging, and in a rare twist, so are their tokens.

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Two cryptocurrency trading firms are merging, and in a rare twist, so are their tokens.

Voyager Digital, a publicly traded digital asset brokerage with offices in New York, has agreed to buy LGO, a French crypto exchange primarily serving institutional investors, as the company expands to Europe.

The transaction requires regulatory approval, which the parties said they expect to receive by the end of this year, along with the token swap. The value of the deal will depend on the value of Voyager’s shares, and the firms’ tokens, at closing; at current prices, it would be in the low seven figures.

As such, this deal is dwarfed by this year’s blockbuster crypto M&A deals such as Binance’s acquisition of CoinMarketCap, estimated to be worth $400 million, and FTX’s $150 million deal to acquire Blockfolio.

Read More: ‘They Have the Users’: Binance CEO Explains Why He Bought CoinMarketCap

What makes this deal unusual is that the two companies’ utility tokens, VGX and LGO, will be swapped into newly minted tokens featuring decentralized finance (DeFi) functions such as community governance and staking at an initial interest rate of 7%.

“We think this is really taking the old-school mergers and acquisitions to the token world, which hasn’t been done before,” Steve Enrlich, Voyager’s co-founder and chief executive officer, told CoinDesk.

Upon completion, Voyager, which is publicly listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange, will issue one million shares for the acquisition and operate in the European retail market with LGO’s Virtual Asset Service Provider registration with the French Financial Markets regulator (AMF). All activities will be conducted under the Voyager brand and LGO will discontinue its institutional services on Oct. 31. Shares of Voyager closed at C$0.67 ($0.51) on Wednesday. 

Read More: Voyager to Pay Interest on DeFi Tokens to Gain Brokerage Clients

Hugo Renaudin, co-founder and chief executive officer of LGO, told CoinDesk that the French company made the deal after it decided to shift its focus from institutional clients to increasing value for its token holders.

“The key decision-maker is what will bring the most value to our tokens,” Renaudin said. “So we have this token. We have token holders and they’re mostly retail [clients].”

LGO launched an initial coin offering (ICO) in February 2018, according to its website, which raised 3,600 bitcoin (worth about $36 million at the time). The company’s white paper shows that 60% of the tokens were distributed through a pre-sale process, while 20% of the supply went to LGO’s founders and advisors.

At its peak in April 2018, the LGO token’s market cap was nearly $40 million, according to data from CoinMarketCap. On Wednesday, that value was calculated to be $1.5 million. 

Renaudin told CoinDesk that the company’s other option would have been focusing on better serving its institutional clients, which means its spot exchange would have to provide new and exotic derivatives products. After consideration, he said that the team had decided to change its focus to retail customers instead.

The merger comes during a time of regulatory crackdown on crypto derivatives trading around the globe. Popular crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX was charged by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with facilitating unregistered trading activities, while in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has banned crypto derivatives for retail consumers.

This is not the first acquisition by Voyager, which went public in early 2019 in a reverse merger with the shell of a Canadian mineral exploration company. Previously, it acquired wallet startup Ethos.io for about $4 million.

Read More: Voyager CEO Says Revenue Growth Accelerates 8-Fold as DeFi Trading Surges

Voyage’s revenue in the most-recent fiscal quarter, which ended Sept. 30, surged to about $2 million, compared with $1.1 million during the fiscal year ending in June.

“We are becoming the financial service firm of the future, which means I will look at acquisitions that can add products, customer assets to the platform, or tokens and other communities that can be accretive to what we are trying to do,” Enrlich said. “And adding these pieces together we are going to either do it organically or through more acquisitions.”

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Source: https://www.coindesk.com/voyager-acquires-lgo-token-merger

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