Bitcoin is still seen as the tech nerd’s plaything rather than the everyman’s money. Four cryptocurrency adoption experts share their tips and tricks for how to bring crypto to the average Joe.
A 2013 report found that the vast majority of Bitcoin users were male, libertarian, non-religious, and used their coins for donations rather than illegal activity. While these demographics have certainly shifted over time, cryptocurrency far and away remains the domain of the coder nerds. “Main street” adoption among the average citizens could be higher.
Cointelegraph spoke to several cryptocurrency experts specializing in adoption about the most effective ways to get crypto into regular use by ordinary people.
Making using cryptocurrency easier than banking apps
For Rijk Plasman, founder of Dutch cryptocurrency Gulden, the most crucial component of any adoption strategy is to remember to make a more user-friendly product than the current system.
“It's very important to be realistic, while there are a lot of benefits at this moment already to using cryptocurrency rather than using fiat, there is a pretty extensive learning path for new users. That's what we are doing differently, remove the learning, make apps so easy that people can use them without a manual. And when they use the apps they notice the benefits of blockchain instead of just hearing about it. Our apps have to be better than current banking apps, otherwise regular people wouldn't even give it a chance.”
Derrick J. Freeman, Bitcoin advocate and early adopter, also believes that emphasizing ease of use is imperative to promoting Bitcoin.
“I tell them all they need to use Bitcoin is an app. Here in New Hampshire, where I live, I can point to a half dozen Bitcoin vending machines that convert fiat and to Bitcoin. No questions asked. That kind of financial freedom and privacy is empowering.”
Willie Fleming, director of the Scotcoin Project an organization meant to bring cryptocurrency into circulation amongst the Scottish people, has sought out atypical cryptocurrency users in an attempt to spur adoption amongst the general populace.
“We have actively gone out and searched for suppliers outwith the normal geek spectrum. So already you can buy beer, get a hotel room, your car serviced, your chimney swept for Scotcoin. Add in T-shirt printing, office/hot desk rental, car hire, football and pro basketball tickets, web design and hosting, server colo and coming soon also flights to/from Glasgow Prestwick. Start-up loans in Scotcoin are now available for young companies who agree to accept Scotcoin for their goods and services. Also within the month, the first residential property in the UK will be offered for crypto - though to be honest I think the deal will eventually be done in BTC rather than SCOT but it will certainly be listed for SCOT anyway.”
Tailoring the approach to the target audience
Freeman prefers to open a conversation with something more likely to resonate with a non-technical person.
“I never ask if they've heard of Bitcoin. Instead I say, "Have you heard of the Silk Road?" They have. They know Bitcoin can buy party drugs online, and they probably even have friends who have done it.”
Fleming sees the unique nature of Scotland’s current economic and political situation as a way to position Scotcoin for adoption in the near future.
“With the current uncertainties in Scotland regarding currency, our status as an EU member and the possibility of an independent Scotland using a yet-to-be-decided currency, the time has never been more relevant for a viable cryptocurrency. We are working hard to make that a reality and hence we are now starting to get mainstream exposure in press, TV and radio.”
The way Freeman tailors his message to his audience is by seeking out exactly what they want, and showing how Bitcoin can make it happen.
“Lead with a single benefit you think they will like. For millennials, it's not about ending the Fed, it's about helping them rave. Show them how Bitcoin helps them get what they want, and they'll ask you to help them set up a wallet and buy their first coins.”
Fleming sees an opening in the business community for education on cryptocurrency:
“The Scotcoin Project has launched a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) course in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology featuring Scotcoin. We already have demand for “quickie” Awareness courses from several large enterprises and agencies in Scotland and our presentations to business networking groups have gone down well. TSP see familiarity and adoption by the business community, especially SMEs as being key to our success. Without retailers ready to accept the coin there is no point in distribution.”
Educating the people about the inherent advantages of crypto over central banking
Finally, according to Pétur Árnason, chairman of the Auroracoin Foundation, the organization tasked with the distribution and promotion of the Icelandic cryptocurrency, painting a clear picture of contrast from the central banking system will win many over to crypto.
“I think that what we do differently from most coins is that we do not introduce Auroracoin as an awesome new tech, cheap payments or a simple payment system. Though it certainly is all of that it’s not what interests the “average Joe” as he see’s no reason why he should be risking his valuables in a new tech payment system, be it clever, cheap or fast. The average Joe isn’t that unhappy with using his credit or bank card to pay for his consumption in a simple manner. What we do is introduce the basics to people and explain to them why cryptocurrencies were created and why we really need them. That it’s our (the average Joe) chance to fight back with the financial enslavement that we were born into. A way to distribute society’s wealth more evenly and at the end of the day we get to keep the value we create for ourselves when we contribute to our society with our time and effort.”
Árnason believes that, at least in Iceland, the average citizen has an uneasy feeling about the current economic system, and with proper education will welcome a better solution.
“This is something that the average Joe can understand. He knows there is something wrong with our monetary system, just not exactly what. So we try and educate people about these fatal flaws of the current system and that we have something that is possibly a foundation to the solution. This is something that affects us all and everyone can understand this not just the technically inclined.”