UX/UI amongst highest customer value for cryptocurrency exchanges
January 2021 has been a crazy start to the year. We’ve had a “coup d’état attempted by Trump” here in the states, Russians are standing up to Putin in protest, COVID still rages on, and the latest event, Reddit Retail Investors vs Wall Street.
This latest push back against the system has turned a lot of heads to the stock market, everyday investing, and the new elephant in the livingroom — cryptocurrency.
The timing seems to be perfect for this infatuation as Binance just published the first 2021 Global Crypto User Index.
One key insight stood out regarding users’ and their relationship with crypto exchanges. When participants were asked;
“What is most important to you when buying cryptocurrencies?”
Number one was, Most customers value security(28%) followed by UX/UI (25%).
I found it interesting that UX/UI was specifically mentioned in the report. I started thinking about my own love/hate relationship with trying to understand blockchain and how steep the learning curve has been for me before I could benefit from using it.
Given the current global infatuation with the Dogecoin meme, this seems like a great time to riff on a possible push towards mass adoption of cryptocurrency.
What will it take? In the abstract, I have no idea. But I’m willing to bet the platform with design considerations that focus on reducing friction of using and understanding blockchain will succeed in converting the most users. Let’s outline how we got here…
How it started
Power of the Masses
Retail investors on Wallstreetbets making billionaires cry by organizing a strategy to bring down hedge funds. Reddit users began buying up stock that the hedges were short selling, driving up the price and costing the hedge funds billions.
The word was out publicly and millions of non-traders began opening accounts and buying the same stocks, further driving the prices up.
Robinhood, a mobile trading app that offers brokerage for novice investors, began restricting stock purchases and sales on these specifically targeted stocks, further agitating the retail investors.
Other trading apps began to issue trade restrictions, further squeezing the retail traders’ and raising concerns over the reality of a free market, as at first glance it seems like the platforms sided with the hedge funds.
Retail investment in cryptocurrencies
Feeling that the system was rigged, retail traders regrouped with a new strategy, this time from the reddit thread, “SatoshiStreetBets,” to pump the meme-based cryptocurrency, “Dogecoin”. It soared to over 800% in 24 hours, and users became obsessed with taking it to $1 a coin (from $0.000232).
Elon Musk tweeted a Dogecoin meme and it became the #1 trending topic on Twitter. This further hyped the coin online, getting more and more people to buy-in. Millions of people around the world in hopes of a cash-grab participated, and since cryptocurrency has no boundaries like stocks, anyone can easily buy from a crypto exchange.
Robinhood then restricts crypto trading and withdrawals due to the spike in activity and liquidity issues, stopping the public push. Users scrambled to sign up for accounts to buy more DOGE, forcing outages across multiple platforms.
A populist revolution
There has always been distrust in the financial establishment. It just so happens that:
1. A lot of people are home all day because of COVID.
2. People are pissed and feel like they don’t have control of their lives.
3. The wealth gap has grown, while most of us small businesses got destroyed.
4. Everyone saw an opportunity to make money at the expense of the high risk, finance insiders.
5. Wall Street and the tech giants proved that they don’t have to play by the same rules as the rest of us.
All of this combined with the aggravation since the 08' recession collapse resulted in a movement of people banning together on the internet to collectively have an influence on Wall Street functions.
Why UX is Important for Cryptocurrency Adoption
“The missing piece before mass adoption of Blockchain can happen is a simple app with a clear value proposition.” — Michael Peshkam, Cointelegraph Magazine.
Understanding blockchain to get into crypto means there’s a steep learning curve. When I first became interested in Bitcoin about 7 years ago, I realized that the exchanges and wallets were designed for function, not form. I don’t come from an IT or software background, so it was hard to understand what was happening until I became motivated by the technology.
We’ve come a long way since then. There are at least 9 accessible exchanges that users can buy, sell and trade coins in minutes without having to understand blockchain. They still aren’t good enough for mass adoption. They need to be better.
Cryptocurrencies need a safe, user-friendly, inclusive, front-end interface to reduce the barrier to entry as users seek an entry point to owning and investing cryptocurrency.
As a new type of user looks to get involved in crypto, solutions need to be convenient and accessible before mass adoption can happen. Just as you don’t have to understand how a computer works to use it, you shouldn’t have to understand blockchain and smart contracts to enjoy the benefits of a decentralized network.
Focusing on the user experience brings tangible, real-world applications to help new users see value in a landscape that even the industry themselves has trouble explaining their solutions.
If preexisting portfolio apps are adding crypto trading to their platforms to capitalize on the interest from the general public, so be it. It’s a great entry point. It means the race is on to design a platform based on these growing needs.
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