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How Crypto Goes Mainstream from Here

Beginner's guide for onboarding to web3

Max Segall

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Nov 18, 2022

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Since joining Privy earlier this year, I’ve been spending most of my time working with web3 developers to help improve their products’ UX, onboarding flows, and user data privacy. I’ve spoken with over 100 founders in the space working on gaming, NFTs, web3 social, defi, payments/accounting, and much more. In spite of all the recent market uncertainty, my optimism about our market burns hotter than ever. Here are some learnings from a very deep dive with Privy.

Winter is here. As we bundle up and prepare for another cycle of hunkered down building, the Privy team has been reflecting on what it’ll take for web3 to unlock the next phase of adoption beyond financial use cases. In the coming months, seeds will be planted that’ll grow into the next wave of consumer apps to shape our lives. These apps must prove to be useful and fun enough to pull both my 15-year-old cousin and my 85-year-old grandma into our market (whether they know it or not).

Our work helping developers build better web3 products and bridge the gap between on and off chain data has given us a sense of the features these apps will need to have to hit mainstream adoption. Without further ado, here are our ingredients for developers cooking up the web3 consumer apps of tomorrow:

  • Progressive onboarding — meet users where they are: The next billion blockchain users don’t have self-custodial wallets yet. While self-custody is perhaps the single most important feature of a web3 product, apps need first-class ways for walletless users to onboard and get immediate value. The best apps will have ways for users to onboard via email or social identities, and seamlessly upgrade to self-custody when they’re ready or as the app demands it. As the old saying goes: you’ll attract more bees with email auth than with mnemonics.

  • Mobile-first — bringing blockchains to every pocket: If you’ve given up on a web3 app after trying to connect on mobile, you’re not alone. The broken mobile user flow of getting misdirected to the app store upon wallet connection runs rampant, and for good reason: building mobile-optimized experiences in web3 is hard. But mobile accounts for >60% of internet traffic (growing fast!). The web3 apps of tomorrow will be natively mobile — props to apps like OpenSea, Zapper, and dYdX for leading the way here!

  • Friction where it matters — when to slow a user down: Not all blockchain transactions are created equal. While it might make sense to interrupt a user session to prompt a signature on a financial transaction, many on-chain events should occur without user interruptions, notably in web3 social and gaming. Should you sign something every time you follow a new account, make an in-game move, or like a post? Of course not. Lots of exciting development in areas like session-specific keys and account abstraction will pull UX forward on this front. The best apps will be judicious about when to prompt users (shout out to our friends at Farcaster for showing us an example of what great looks like!).

  • Asset portability — open is the way to win: Whether they realize it or not, consumers will choose to use blockchain apps because they allow users to seamlessly bring their assets in and take their assets out. While it can be a tempting value capture play for developers to lock assets into their apps’ walled gardens, this misses the point! Games that let users bring their own leveling reputation and that let users leave with assets they earn in gameplay stand to attract new potential audiences and deliver much richer first time experiences for those audiences off the bat. Financial assets, user data, and identity will travel with users across the internet, and developers who build for more than just using blockchain as a financial backdrop for their apps can unlock new user experiences that are only possible in web3.

It’s always darkest before dawn. Winters are exactly the sort of distraction-free environments necessary to breed the innovations that pull our market forward each cycle: it’s no coincidence that Ethereum and Uniswap were launched in the depths of 2015 and 2018, respectively. As long as we cook up the next generation of web3 apps with the above in mind, this should be the last winter before mainstream consumer adoption is here to stay.

We’re lucky to be serving the builders working day-and-night to turn mainstream adoption into a reality, and we can’t wait to show you all what we’ve been up to these past few months.

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