Crypto is in a bad place. We’ve all noticed and it’s concerning. On the one hand, I don’t think any die-hards have lost our faith in the power of blockchain. We understand the technology’s implications and we understand the opportunity present here. At the same time, it’s easy to see the industry — can we even call it that? — is getting hit from all sides.
It’s funny, there are many intelligent people are in this space yet no one saw the SEC cracking down on every alt exchange. One after another, the US customer base has been ejected from the crypto space. First Bitmex, then IDEX, then Binance (and now Huobi as of November) all have forced customers to KYC. This would be fine, but given the nature of crypto, many of these tokens and coins were classified as securities, thus barring non-accredited investors from buying. In effect, this has removed the largest customer base from the altcoin market. To make matters worse, when you consider we have just left the bear market only several months prior, the opportunity for new money to enter the space has tragically been cut short.
We all knew the risks getting in; many of us are trying our best to remain optimistic, alas one-by-one we’re dropping like flies.
I prefer problem-solving to complaining, so this brings me to my question for this article: What is next for the crypto space?
One of my past-times is watching professional fighting games e.g. street fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat. This was one of my favorite videogame genres as a kid, and since I don’t play video games much anymore, this is how I scratch the itch.
The biggest tournament in fighting games is called Evolution. Recently (like 20 minutes before writing this actually), I was watching a great mini-series on the history of Evo. As I watched this two-part series, I reflected on the different phases this — now-massive — tournament series went through to attain the size that it presently has. It’s difficult to see the forest for the trees when you’re deep within its midst, but we (CT) have to remember that these things take time.
The dark ages of the fighting game community happened around a decade into the history of Evo. The attendance was waning, there were few games generating interest, and the games they were playing, were beginning to grow stale. The organizers lamented the low attendance and claimed they were on the brink of leaving the niche they had carved out for themselves.
Then, Capcom (the creator of Street Fighter amongst others), released Street Fighter IV which clearly had the fighting game community in mind in its design. They then followed up their other major game, Marvel vs. Capcom, with a sequel that brought Evo from low attendance in 2008 to record attendance the following year.
What would it take for the crypto scene to reach the next level?
Since day one, people have asked what will be the killer app which makes Bitcoin a household name? At the moment, the biggest on-ramp to crypto is Cash App because @jack is based and he clearly understands the power this technology holds. Outside of Cash App what is there? Pretty much nothing.
Sure, there are some interesting twitch streams such as turnip, kaz, cache, bagsy, etc. Many of us obsessives from crypto twitter migrated to twitch to demonstrate in real-time what it’s like to margin trade. In a lot of ways, trading is a lot like playing a video game + gambling — both of which are fairly large corners of twitch. Great, maybe we’ll swindle a few more teenagers and college students into the crypto space, but what would help with adoption?
It’s hard enough as it is to design an app of value, but there’s also not enough conversation about what is missing from the space? Most of the conversation — rightfully so — is targetted towards making trading more appealing, or towards additional liquidity, both of which make perfect sense, but what we need is seamless integration of crypto & blockchain into other applications.
Becoming entrenched with the cryptosphere has upped my interest in opsec, end-to-end ecryption, and the organization of ideas. We understand data sovereignty is pivotal, but that’s not easy to convey to people who still actively post on facebook. I think we tend to forget (for sure, I know I do) our understanding and adoption speed is not only faster than these boomers, its faster than the average millennial/zoomer. We’re on the cutting edge of the cuttin edge and things we do now, many will never do — or wont for several years.
We need to take the apps we already use, make them more lightweight, add end-to-end encryption and keep moving forward. For all of the shit we give applications like Twetch from coinyeezy, it is an actual application, with an actual use-case. While it fails to take into account the network effect and its overly capitalistic (considering the attentionalist nature of the internet), it is at least a step in the right direction — development. His team is taking a risk and attempting to solve the censorship and signal-to-noise problem found on Twitter. Plus, paying to post does make a user-funded network which removes pesky promoted tweets — though in essense all tweets become promoted tweets. A C C E L E R A T E.
I’m currently writing this on a lightweight application called Standard Notes, a word processor, note taker, task manager, etc. that’s cross-platform and end-to-end encrpyted. It also has an extension that works to store your 2FA authenticators and I believe they’re working on a built-in crypto wallet. This is an example of a team that is taking a use-case that already exists and is making my life more convenient. Sure, there are cross-platform word processors, file storage, etc. like the Google Suite or whatever the fuck Apple uses, but they have control of your data. This is full control of your data, ideas, and allows for you to have access to your musings at any time (I suppose I don’t have any excuse not to write. I’m editing this at a bar as we speak). They took a pre-existing use-case and added in a use case for crypto adoption without it feeling forced. We need more projects like this!
It is likely not the case that you’re going to get everyone to drop Google and Apple. The sheep will always follow the herd (I can’t tell you how often I’m chastized by adults for not getting certain phones or tech, but I’m sure you know).
We can steal from Evo and naturally evolve; expanding to the nearest concentric circle. Maybe we need to not only tap into Twitch, but find a seamless way to overlap the adjacent interests of the cryptospace. There already exists sites like animekisa that have free HD quality anime for free, but what if you created an app that worked more or less like an RSS feed and it aggregated your favorite anime series whenever the first subs are released? Then you can pay the translators or the content hosts a small tip for their service? The same thing could apply to manga. I know I don’t want to pay a crunchyroll subscription fee, but I definitely wouldn’t mind tipping the team at Jamini’s Box for translating One Piece every week for me. This may already exist or be an untenable idea, but it’s an idea. The point I’m getting at is we need to take what we know and lace it with crypto. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a payment service, maybe you have a slightly more esoteric use for the blockchain, whatever, the point really is to try and not feel like “adoption” has to be a specific thing.
The major takeaway from the story of Evo is adaptation. In the beginning, the tournament was designed to be a bastion for arcade culture. Soon, it became apparent they needed to expand and allow for console gaming. This is much like the transition from Bitcoin proper to the next iteration of the crypto space whwn altcoins began to flood the market. From here, there was a bear market and an extinction, leaving only the best altcoins. Next, we have the emergence of Ethereum, another paradigm shift in the space. Eth and the Cambrian Explosion of ERC tokens led to the bull market of 2017. We are on the tail end of this extinction event, and soon the newest paradigm will become apparent. We must stay vigilant.
Collaborate, create, and contribute to the space. You never know what silly idea said in passing opens the door for the next paradigm.
What’s Next For The Crypto Space? was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.