Stop Making Exclusive Platforms for Your Favorite Cryptocurrency

Stop Making Exclusive Platforms for Your Favorite Cryptocurrency



Ever since the basic applications of Bitcoin beyond regular payments have been conceptualized, there has been a veritable digital gold rush to capitalize on the tokenized and/or decentralized platform market. From Hive to Steemit to LBRY to Uptrennd, Read.Cash, Twetch, you name it, there are countless projects vying for dominance in this space. And yet, many of them make the fatal mistake of only supporting a single cryptocurrency.

Centralized systems are well-entrenched, well-funded, and largely have superior user experiences and support. They won't be supplanted by a divided and tiny ecosystem of users. If you were thinking of starting a new platform or venture and expecting it to only support your favorite cryptocurrency, stop. Don't.

Even Bitcoin can't swing the whole "only me" thing anymore

There's no mincing words here: this isn't 2016. The days when you can succeed in cryptocurrency business while solely supporting Bitcoin, aside from some tiny edge cases, is over for good. While it still claims almost two thirds of current market share in terms of valuation, its percentage of actual transactions and use is significantly smaller. Given the present-day global adoption rates for cryptocurrency as anything other than a speculative investment vehicle, no one coin can have a prayer of serving as the sole successful money for a new monetized platform.

With crypto tribalism you'll only get people who care about one coin, and not much else

As I've tested out various platforms, I've noted that coin-specific tribalism extends to content platforms, and even types of content on those platforms. Bitcoin Cash fans stick to Memo.Cash, Bitcoin SV people use Twetch, and so on. Rarely do they cross over. This extends to content as well, with posts about that specific token doing well, while crypto-generic or other subjects do poorly. This means that not only is the platform in question limiting its user base to fans of a specific token, but it is alienating frequent contribution from all but the most hardcore and one-track minded fans. Generously speaking, this can amount to a dozen or so people actively using the platform on a daily basis.

Funny enough, this sort of petty tribalism doesn't extend to centralized platforms. Despite running on corporate infrastructure, being prone to censorship, and exclusively leveraging fiat currency, the YouTubes, Facebooks, Twitters, and so on seem bizarrely more attractive to crypto fans than those running on "the wrong" decentralized cryptocurrency. It's pretty enlightening.

By picking the tool arbitrarily you're hamstringing your ability to read the market

Businesses succeed by finding the right calibration of product details that satisfies consumers' needs at a price they're willing to pay, marketing that product to said customers, and actually selling it in sufficient amounts to both cover production costs and turn a profit. This process can be very tricky, leading to numerous failures and adjustments along the way, and this is only amplified in an industry where almost no one comes with the means to easily become a customer: everyone has the wrong money. Compounding this challenge by arbitrarily selecting a key element which absolutely cannot change even if it isn't working, and you have a recipe for disaster. What if you build the perfect platform, but you peg it to the wrong token? Whether through technical, liquidity, or simple user base issues, you're stuck without the ability to make a much-needed pivot to save your business.

Even if you are willing to change tokens if the previous one just isn't working, that may only prove more disastrous. In addition to alienating your entire user base, which had likely signed up just because you were using their token of choice, the prospect of attracting new users, who likely had written off the project as exclusively pertaining to a singular token, is slim. Just look at Yours, the blogging platform leveraging micropayments for tips. At first it used Bitcoin until that became infeasible, and attempted to build payment channels to cut down on fees. Then it switched to Litecoin before going to Bitcoin Cash, and finally to Bitcoin SV following the fork. Now, it's effectively dead, with outstanding technical issues and no new development or posts for months after crunching down its subset of potential users smaller and smaller with each token switch.

Exception: Platform-based tokens

Now, this doesn't mean that a platform that just uses one token is destined to fail. In fact, platforms with a proprietary token can do quite well. Notice this subtle distinction between a platform-based token and a token-based platform. If you model a platform on leveraging an existing token, you're largely relegated to attracting that token's existing users, and inherit the limitations of the network. If you have your own token and network, you no longer risk the marketing pigeonhole nightmare, and you're free to modify the token if it isn't working without having to upend a whole ecosystem outside of your own project.

It's worth noting that this is conditional on the system running without requiring previous exposure to the token. If a user can simply sign up and start using, then you have succeeded in the first step. Even buying more tokens to maximize the platform such as boosting posts is acceptable if it's easily doable with fiat currency and within the platform, making the experience akin to buying advertising placements or premium memberships on any other existing service.

Still, minimize user exposure to too many tokens

All that being said, while you want to accommodate as many customers and forms of payment as is feasible, over-complicating any system is sure to be its downfall. Apple had resounding success in generating mass appeal by limiting user interfaces to almost toddler levels of minimalism. This principle seems to run counter to almost everything I just said above. It doesn't necessarily. You can still support many options and tokens as long as the entry point is streamlined enough, and day-to-day operations only leverage one. For example, in a purely payments-based platform, you can have a simple tip/pay button which can either automatically send any of the coins in your balance, or have a drop-down menu to select one of several options. For a closed-ecosystem platform that runs on a single token, you can have the option to buy the token seamlessly through a variety of payment options. This second one is probably the ideal, and mirrors mainstream online commerce.

Stop thinking one coin will rule them all. Even if it does, it probably won't be yours. Sorry. Just don't limit your dream project to your favorite token. It will pay to play favorites among winners, not hopefuls. Thank me later.

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Crypto and liberty lover. Journalist. Living unbanked off of crypto since 2016. Free State Project mover. Opinions are my own.

Digital Cash Network
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