One of the major selling points of web3—at least among its most ardent proponents—is decentralization. Blockchain technology enables us to use smart contracts, build bankless assets, trade without friction, and much more.
Here’s the problem with the way we’re trying to sell web3 to people who aren’t already interested: Who cares? Who really cares about abstract-sounding concepts like identity ownership, bankless assets, and smart contracts?
From the conversations I’ve had with folks on the periphery (or way outside) of web3 spaces, the answer is: not your average person.
Let’s take decentralized finance as an example. The idea of bankless assets seems incredibly exciting to those of us on the inside of the discussion. Traditional banks fail consumers in many, many ways. Decentralized finance represents the future.
However, the majority of Americans are unable to cover a $1,000 emergency in cash.
You’re not going to get the average person excited about the idea of bankless assets, because the average person has no assets. Decentralized finance sounds meaningless to a person living paycheck-to-paycheck.
This is part of crypto’s current image problem. The far-reaching benefits of blockchain technology are exciting when you dig into the details, but the average person struggles to see how those benefits apply to their lives now when it matters to them.
The idealism behind these common selling points is good, and it’s something we need to foster (especially in light of scams, cryptocurrency collapses, and other high-profile scandals).
Instead, we need to start leveraging that idealism into creating and pointing out useful tools—not just using web3 projects to do web2 stuff. The more relevant we can make web3 to the average user, the faster we’ll be able to onboard the next 100 million users.
Part of that onboarding is showcasing how the blockchain can make everyone’s lives easier, using examples that people who aren’t interested in speculative finance can understand and relate to.
Take a simple activity, like trying to sell something online.
Under the current model, you might want to list that item on multiple sites to increase the likelihood that someone sees and buys it: eBay, Amazon, Craigslist. In doing so, you face a few risks that most online sellers are all too familiar with.
If two people try to buy it at the same time from different sites, you’re going to have at least one angry shopper on your hands. And there’s a risk that the person who says they’re buying it doesn’t have the money for it.
A smart contract eliminates those risks. You can list the item wherever you want and the smart contract ensures it can only be sold once. The smart contract checks the buyer’s wallet to make sure they have the assets to buy it. As soon as you scan the item at the UPS store or post office, the smart contract automatically validates the transaction and releases the funds.
No need to interact with a middleman. No need to monitor all your listings to update information about how much stock you have. No need to worry about scams.
Something this simple is still an enormous benefit of blockchain technology. And you might notice that it includes all the same selling points: decentralization, bankless assets, smart contracts, and frictionless trade.
Yet it’s an example that is far more likely to be relevant to the average person’s daily life. It’s more comprehensible than the idea of bankless assets on its own and showcases the concrete benefits of blockchain technology—not just the theoretical ones.