This goes out to everyone who has paid lip service to the economic viability of cryptocurrencies to become the dominant form of payment. I am of the belief that many who act like they care about this don’t possess the conviction or philosophical consistency that they claim. Do you really care about a world running on crypto? Well let’s see, by taking a trip down memory lane.
Bitcoin usability for small payments has been gone for almost two years
In the summer of 2016, the Bitcoin median transaction fees were on the rise, reaching around 15 cents. Most didn’t care, and some saw this as a blip on a chart, but for me this increase actually started to impact my life. At that time, I was struggling financially but loving every minute of it because I was living the great experiment of trying to use magical internet money for everything. The standard cup of coffee was about $1.90, and with that I could hang out for a few hours and get lots of work done away from the distraction of roommates etc. That fee represented about 8% of this purchase, however that could be more if I had to consolidate inputs from several wallets (the equivalent of gathering coins from couch cushions).
In addition, I received income from other sources such as online ads and donations on my blog, all in Bitcoin. However, since these were just a few cents a day, what I received after the transaction fee was almost nothing, and often I had to wait to move funds until I had accumulated a larger amount. Altogether, the fees added up over the course of the month even at this low level, and I began to feel their effects. And that’s someone living in the first world. In less fortunate counties (touted as one of the primary use cases of crypto) the effects were much more dramatic.
Those who had the luxury of not knowing, or caring, weren’t really serious users
This brings me back to the coffee shop with the $1.90 coffee. Around this time, they raised their prices 5 cents across the board, essentially equaling an extra 5 cent fee per purchase in most cases. By their volume of daily transactions, this small amount added up enough to make a real difference for the business, likely allowing them to afford another barista shift or a small raise for employees who, like me, may have been living close to the bone. That’s how the real world works. If 5 cents per transaction makes a difference, then you can bet 15 cents can really affect businesses.
This means that, if you didn’t feel the real economic and financial impact of a 15 cent fee two whole years ago, you likely weren’t a serious Bitcoin user, at least not as peer-to-peer electronic cash as intended. If you didn’t start looking around at alternatives just in case when the fees hit 15 cents, and kept waiting around to see what would happen when they passed the one-dollar mark, you probably weren’t really serious about Bitcoin to begin with.
The chain with the most accumulated real-world adoption work is Dash
Cryptocurrency advocates commonly go for a Bitcoin-first approach, partially since it’s the coin with the most accumulated proof-of-work on its blockchain, but mainly because it has the most accumulated work in its ecosystem. After the death of Bitcoin’s usefulness as payments starting in 2016, a good chunk of its adherents went over to Dash. Ignoring for a second the two years prior that Dash after its inception, this still leaves it with nearly a year’s head start over Bitcoin Cash. Since these two are the only major decentralized cryptocurrencies for peer-to-peer payments, this means that Dash actually has the considerable head start in the digital cash race. This is becoming more apparent by the day with more integrations, use cases, etc.
The fine line between adoption focus and lip service is everything
Here’s where it gets confusing: we have two groups of people saying nearly the exact same things like “Crypto was meant to be spent,” “Merchants and the third world want low fees,” and “on-chain scaling can safely and economically grow to support the entire world.” There is, however, a fine line between the attitudes of both camps. That fine line represents a subtle yet significant difference in motivation. Some talk a good line about getting digital cash to replace fiat currency, and do everything they can to ensure this becomes a reality. However, others talk the same line, yet have hesitation in their actions. Biases in their way. Clouded priorities. Weakened resolve. In free-market competition, that little psychological disparity can make or break a project, just like a 5 cent price increase to a business owner.
Actions speak louder than words. If you really cared about peer-to-peer digital cash in the hands of the whole world, then where were you when the blocks filled up?