Bitcoin has come a long way from alpaca socks. In six short years, our community has transformed from a handful of hobbyist cypherpunks into a full blown global financial revolution. Ahead of us, a number of roadblocks remain on the long road to mass adoption. There are three features which the Bitcoin community must implement in order to overcome these stumbling points, and be accepted by mainstream society.
Bitcoin’s most substantial flaw is its inaccessibility to the average consumer. Focus must be placed on making bitcoin available anywhere in the world, at fair market prices. Our ecosystem is easy to use once you’re inside of it, but getting to that point remains far too cumbersome for non-technical users.
Emphasis on providing better tools and hardware to merchants would not be misplaced. In order for adoption to succeed, merchants must find it beneficial to accept digital currency in their businesses. By creating better point of sale methods, we can help business owners integrate Bitcoin within their existing sales infrastructure.
Simplicity is two parts function, one part form. We must take Bitcoin’s unique capabilities, and package them in a way that feels familiar and intuitive.
For the technically minded, transacting with a 34 digit, alpha-numeric, single use public key is a matter of little consequence. Explaining public keys to a new user, however, is at times impossible. Many relate that this is often the moment where friends with a casual interest begin to fade from the conversation. A half-measure has been implemented by several start ups, allowing their customers to choose usernames, which do obscure public keys from a majority of transactions within a specific platform. While implementing short, human-readable, addresses is a step in the right direction, these systems are missing a pivotal function: the ability to send and receive transactions by username outside of a single, centralized ecosystem.
Imagine if you could only send Gmail messages to another Gmail account. We should not have to choose between form and function. A solution to this issue may be a single, shared username database, which individuals could choose to connect across platforms. Such a database could be also be used to create a ratings system, allowing businesses and individuals to gauge the trustworthiness of the users they transact with. Something of a Bitcoin credit rating.
Another advantage would be user-friendly compliance systems. Users could upload the sensitive data of their choosing to a single account, and then share that information with the platforms of their choice.
Wallets may consider integrating a simple tax tracking system that allows users to privately generate income tax information from their transaction data – and even withhold an appropriate percentage of funds from each transaction they receive, if the user so chooses.
The easiest way to bring the rest of the world to Bitcoin is to not give them any indication that they are using it at all. Two people on opposite sides of the world should be able to instantly send and receive funds in the currency of their choice, without even realizing that a conversion has taken place between them; not just from Bitcoin to fiat, but from fiat to fiat as well. Greater access to private keys should be granted by centralized wallets, though kept hidden to all but advanced users.
Users should be able to save their shipping information to their account, authorize purchases up to a certain daily amount, and then order items online with a single checkout-less click and authorization.
Bitcoin’s functionality has reached a level of usefulness which could already allow for its wider adoption. The issues that remain are mostly in its packaging and design. Bitcoin must ultimately be made less threatening to outsiders, and its learning curve reduced to zero through usability testing. The pathways in and out of digital currency must be widened, and the visibility of the technology itself obscured in favor of friendly, familiar feature sets.