During the bull market of 2021, blockchain experienced a stress test like no other, leading to high fees, slow transaction times, and complex user experiences — not to mention numerous scams, hacks, and exploits. For blockchain to ever achieve mass adoption, there must be a fundamental shift in how we interact with Web3. Let’s dive into some of the potential user experience solutions, what a Web3-integrated internet could look like, and how PayPal may lead the charge for mass adoption.
One of the best and worst events to happen in the blockchain industry was the NFT boom of the past couple of years. At its peak, NFTs were a part of mainstream culture and were featured on cable news and shows like The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon which led to millions of people creating MetaMask wallets and interacting with smart contracts. While this certainly brought more awareness to blockchain, it also led to subsequent distrust from users and the general public after the NFT bubble collapsed and FTX crumbled, and many now see NFTs and blockchain as a fad from the COVID days.
As we all know, this is not the case, and the promise of blockchain technology is much greater than pictures of monkeys selling for millions of dollars. It can bring greater decentralization, ownership, and trustless interactions to the internet. However, realizing these promises will likely look much different than it does now. Nobody knows how debit or credit cards work — they simply swipe their cards and pay for goods. Blockchain will most likely be the same and be relegated to the background, while only the benefits will be appreciated.
Practically, this looks like removing the need for users to store their private keys, removing the approvals and confirmations that pop up before every transaction while retaining security, and having built-in fraud and threat detection. Ideally, users can “log in” to their Web3 account with a username and password and have recovery mechanisms in case they forget their login information.
More likely than not, the primary introduction of blockchain to the masses will come in a bundled solution that completely removes blockchain from the user experience entirely. The most recent example was from the Creator League, an eSports tournament initiated by creator MrBeast that sold tournament passes verified as tokens on the NEAR blockchain. Though this is an elegant solution for blockchain and could have been the first time the public got to use NFTs for a real use-case with a simple user interface, the entire project collapsed after creators got afraid and angry about the use of NFTs. Stay tuned for a full article about this topic and what it could mean for crypto going forward.
The other most likely place for blockchain integration in traditional workflows to happen is inside PayPal. After allowing cryptocurrency exchange on its platform in 2020 and recently announcing the launch of an Ethereum-based stablecoin this past summer, it has become clear that PayPal is the most crypto-friendly fintech platform and that it clearly has more planned blockchain solutions. One of these may be directly introducing a crypto wallet in PayPal accounts that allows users to access (likely a list of verified) dApps, transact with others on and off, and seamlessly bridge between their bank-based and Web3-based PayPal accounts. With the recent introduction of account abstraction on Ethereum, this could be accomplished in a way that does not sacrifice user experience but only augments it with additional capabilities and financial freedom.
Nobody doubts blockchain is in a trough and mass adoption seems unfeasible. Account abstraction and a better user experience is the key to reaching this lofty goal and are well on their way to becoming a problem of the past.
By Lincoln Murr