Bitcoin Q&A: Wallet design and mass adoption


“What conditions should the ideal wallet meet?” That is a question which can only be answered
if I understand your particular requirements. There is no perfect wallet for everyone. Wallets serve different purposes better than others.
It depends on what you are trying to achieve. It is a bit like asking, “What is better,
a Ferrari or an agricultural tractor? The [answer] depends on what you are trying to do.
If you want to [drive] really fast on a very flat surface… in a closed track, then the Ferrari
will perform better for your needs. But if you want to pull four tonnes through a muddy field,
the Ferrari will be pretty useless for that task. What is the ideal wallet? The ideal wallet
depends on what you want to achieve. You must find the right balance of security, privacy,
and [usability] for your level of technical skill, as well as cutting-edge features that you are
particularly interested in, such as fee management. Replace-by-fee (RBF) and Child-Pays-For-Parent (CPFP),
or [good] fee estimation [algorithms]. Segregated Witness and native bech32 addresses. All of those things might be considerations for you,
or they might not be considerations for you at all. Maybe you are looking for something that makes
payments reliably, quickly, without much explanation. So I can’t really answer that question in general. “With all of the new tokens, coins, and changes
to existing coins, upgrades such as SegWit, what is your view on the ability of wallets to keep up?” This is a good question. It is not that easy. We see the adoption of new technology is primarily
restricted at the point of the user interface. A new technology introduced into the blockchain
or infrastructure isn’t used until it is part of a wallet. Unfortunately, it is not easy to do that. You must design the user interface, making sure
the user experience is intuitive and consistent. The metaphors and modalities you [include should]
enhance security rather than undermining security, by creating expectations for the users
that are [both] intuitive and secure. [Those requirements] make it very difficult for wallets to
keep up [with change]. User interface design is not easy. When a technology is launched at the infrastructure
level, it [may require] a lot of work to introduce it… successfully to end-users. We also see that with exchanges, not just wallets,
and other environments that involve a lot of users. As they are introduced, new features will generate
a lot of customer service / help-desk requests. People [managing] the help-desk and customer service
need to be trained [regarding the new features]. We see a gap [in introduction]. This gap can
[last] anywhere from six months to two years, [from when] a new technology [or capability is
introduced [or activated] at the blockchain level… and when it is [available] by
a majority at the user interface level. “What will it take to provide simplicity for mass
adoption, in terms of signing up with an exchange… using various wallets, and purchasing alt-coins?” “Will the interface be centralized?”
The interfaces are already centralized. If mass adoption comes from signing up
with a centralized and custodial service, then the decentralized digital
currency experiment has failed. A centralized custodial exchange
is not a decentralized digital currency. It is one thing [for some to] use them as an on-ramp,
that you can familiarize yourself with the technology… and perhaps obtain your first cryptocurrencies. But the risks of custodial systems, with the
surveillance and identification that is required, and the possibility of that [identity]
information being used against you… — especially in coercive, despotic,
and corrupt regimes — is very high. These are not decentralized systems. Mass adoption at
the expense of decentralization is completely pointless. If what you want is [easy] mass adoption,
then PayPal is probably a better option. In decentralized digital currencies, mass adoption does
not matter as much as providing a [better] alternative… to the existing systems, and that means
[we should be] maintaining decentralization.

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