Another day, another strange theory on why Bitcoin hasn’t caught on with the public mainstream a decade in, this time from the revered Jimmy Song. There’s a lot of blame going out to people who promote other cryptocurrencies and public misconceptions, but in my humblest of opinions, all that’s far from the truth. This is why Bitcoin really lacks wide adoption.
The biggest reason for the lack of wide adoption of Bitcoin are all the bad actors. They misdirect to “blockchain technology” or “cryptocurrencies” or the “real Bitcoin” with aspirational tales that are snake-oil salesman-like. Bitcoin gets lumped in with them and suffers.
— Jimmy Song (송재준) (@jimmysong) September 21, 2019
The network has thus far failed to scale
A widely-debated point, but no matter where your opinion lies, one fact remains undeniable: Bitcoin hasn’t scaled. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t, or won’t, but so far it hasn’t. For around three years and counting, more people have wanted to use the network than have been realistically able, with no clear end in sight. Until the network can support a mass influx of users, guess what: it won’t get them. It’s really that simple.
User experience hasn’t improved
Cryptocurrencies in general aren’t the most user-friendly yet. New users, at best, have to learn the copy/pasting of long cryptographic hashes and scanning of QR codes, and at worst need to learn about private key security, change addresses inputs and outputs, mining confirmations, block intervals, and all kinds of extra technical stuff. Some wallets like HandCash make this simpler with usernames and contacts, but as yet haven’t become network-wide and universally-accepted. The upcoming Dash usernames hope to fix that. However, neither of these are intended for the BTC network, which may still struggle with usability for some time. Bitcoin hasn’t scaled, yet some proponents insist that the Lightning network will end up solving this. What’s the version of this for usability? I have yet to hear of it.
— Joel Valenzuela (@TheDesertLynx) September 22, 2019
Bitcoin fans are increasingly aggressive and confusing
If you’ve been in the space for a while, you’ll notice a distinct uptick in the aggression of Bitcoin fans. I’ve seen the shift over the last several years from positive and utopian to haughty and disrespectful. This is no way to attract new people. Arguably worse is the confusion of narratives. In the past, Bitcoin was digital money that no one can control and manipulate, and that can be sent anywhere in the world at almost no cost. How it worked, and why anyone would want to use it, was also pretty straightforward. However, now with the digital gold narrative, what Bitcoin is and why it matters has become a more confusing narrative to explain.
Take the Song tweet as an example: Why would the industry leader, with over two thirds of the market capitalization of the entire space and the dominant popular branding, suffer from obscure smaller projects somehow getting the attention of newbies first and giving them a bad experience which is then associated with Bitcoin? That argument makes absolutely no sense, particularly to someone new to the space, and confusing new people is a great way to not get them to participate at all.
Surprise, when you don’t try to compete, your results aren’t competitive
From the resolution of the block size debate, Bitcoin has not prioritized competing as a widely-used consumer technology. It has focused on the arbitrary goal of keeping blocks small and moving small payments off-chain, not because they’re more efficient or have a better user experience, but for other reasons. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that Bitcoin adoption hasn’t taken off. Of course it hasn’t, because it hasn’t tried. If you have a large task at hand, such as upending the whole global financial and payments system, you can’t afford to be hamstrung by a few major and arbitrarily limiting parameters.
So yes, this is why Bitcoin adoption hasn’t mooned yet. Not because people are buying other cryptocurrencies and getting burned.