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Pay-to-use blockchains will never achieve mass adoption

by Abigail Bautista

Pay-to-use blockchains are not a viable option for mass adoption. While the crypto community may be comfortable with the complexities and costs associated with these networks, the average user has no appetite for such challenges. In order for permissionless blockchains to become widely adopted, three key changes need to occur: they need to become free, frictionless, and familiar.

When we talk about “free,” we mean that the user should not have to pay fees to utilize blockchain networks. While current blockchain protocols require users to pay gas fees for each transaction, this approach is not sustainable for mass adoption. We are used to being indirectly monetized through platforms like Google and Facebook, where our data is the currency. Blockchain builders need to find ways to align incentives between creators and consumers, rather than directly monetizing users.

Additionally, blockchains need to become frictionless and simple to use. The onboarding process for crypto is notoriously complicated and overwhelming for new users. We need to make blockchain technology as easy to use as opening an app or playing a video game. Users should not have to change their behavior and learn complicated technical processes to interact with blockchain networks. We should meet users where they already are and create a seamless experience.

Finally, the crypto industry needs to create familiar and fun experiences for users. We have not been successful in creating decentralized social media alternatives, unique gaming experiences, or Web3 models that replace traditional Web2 models. Instead, we have focused on speculative trading, scams, and arguing on Twitter. If we want to see blockchain technology become widely adopted, we need to create applications and protocols that align with what people already do in their everyday lives.

Building free, frictionless, and familiar blockchains may seem like a lofty goal, but it is not impossible. We have been conditioned to believe that pay-to-use blockchains are the only option because a few individuals have profited from them. However, if we want to change the world, we need to accept the reality that people do not want to pay for what should be free, they do not want to do difficult things that should be easy, and they do not want to change their behavior to fit our vision of the world. By acknowledging these truths and building protocols and applications that align with them, we can bring about mass adoption and revolutionize the way we interact with technology.

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