This post is also available in: Deutsch
By itself, a cryptocurrency wallet is useless to most people
Theoretically, cryptocurrency wallets work much the same way as modern payment apps: they let you send money to friends and family and make payments. Practically, payment apps let you pay for goods and services from nearly every source imaginable, while wallet’s aren’t good for much. How many vendors in your town accept it? How many online retailers? How many friends have any to send to you? Can your place of employment send you any for salary?
A big part of getting the average person to get familiar with your favorite coin is to get them to download the wallet, and possibly receive some funds. After that point, however, their foray into becoming a user has hit a wall. They can’t get any more of it without exploring additional apps and services, and they can’t do much with it without some serious education.
Integrating key services can actually deliver a user experience and value proposition
The easiest way to turn a cryptocurrency wallet from something with no use or value to the average person into something that can be actually used is to start integrating additional services, starting with a simple fiat currency gateway to solve the problem of how to get some to spend. Still, even with this step, usefulness is limited since very few places accept even the most widely-adopted cryptocurrencies. They remaining key value proposition is that it is cheap and frictionless to transfer, which is only useful to the average person if they can then convert it to something they can realistically spend, as long as not too much value is lost in the conversion process.
This leads to “all-in-one” financial services wallet: a wallet with integrations into fiat on-ramps, an ATM map perhaps, cash-out options, stablecoin integrations, etc. The purpose of this setup is to make it as easy to get in, and out, of cryptocurrency as possible for uses such as remittances and jury-rigging a financial system for the unbanked. Essentially, this lets users benefit from one aspect of censorship-resistant digital currency while still remaining inside their comfortable financial world. In short, getting people to use crypto by limiting their exposure to it as much as possible.
“All-in-one” should be training wheels which are gradually made obsolete
Here’s the twist: getting customers used to your product by training them to stay away from it as much as possible is not a good way to actually promote said product. Selling a digital currency wallet as purely a method of moving fiat currency around wastes attention on promoting fiat currency as the real money customers should be using. Additionally, if the prime benefit of cryptocurrency is how cheap and frictionless it is to send around, then it should be sent around as much as possible before converting it back into something more currently popular. The better idea is to get users to attempt to spend as much of the cryptocurrency they acquire directly rather than converting out of it right away, eliminating the costly and potentially time-consuming effect of paying fees on both ends of the journey from fiat to fiat. Better is to get someone to buy some, spend it on goods or services, and the merchant use it to pay some expenses before the final receiving party has to convert. The more hops without getting out of crypto, the better.
And here’s another twist: features cloud simplicity. The more bells and whistles you attach to a wallet in order to make it more attractive to the average user, the more you risk cluttering the project and turning that user off. Having someone juggle conversion in and out of crypto, stablecoins, physical remittance locations, etc. complicates the process of accessing and using the one thing you’re actually supposed to be selling: sending an receiving digital currency. The balance between more vs. fewer features must actively seek to maximize usefulness to the end user. In a world where no one uses cryptocurrency, this will be more features. In a world where its use is relatively widespread, this will be fewer.
The goal: a pure wallet being enough
Ultimately we’re trying to build a new money for the world. In that situation, a regular wallet is enough. You would receive salary and payment, send to friends and family around the world, pay bills, do shopping, and much more, all using the basic send and receive functions of a wallet, or some slight variant. Conversion tools, stablecoins, all that other clutter won’t be necessary at all. This should be the ultimate goal, and any intermediary step should operate with this firmly in mind. All-in-one wallets may be a fun first step, but rather quickly we should hope to make them obsolete and transition to a simple wallet with an easy built-in buying function, while focusing efforts on integrations and merchant adoption. Then, someday, we might hope for a situation where even a buy function becomes a thing of the past.