It has been a wild ride for blockchain and cryptocurrencies. So far this year, the market saw crypto prices rise to all-time highs only to fall again to the pre-frenzy levels of 2017. Just recently, the market has taken yet another hit as Bitcoin dropped below the $5,000 mark after trading stably above it for several months. Other coins like ether, XRP, and bitcoin xash also suffered double-digit dives, collectively wiping more than 15 percent off the market’s total value.
Speculators and investors are expectedly shaken up since price fluctuations were thought to be easing as of late. It’s only natural for fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) to intensify during such trying times and a number of participants may even cut their losses and bail.
But falling prices may have deeper implications beyond crypto trading. Crypto supporters will definitely be looking for safer bets but rather than abandon the space, those who still believe in the key strengths of blockchain could turn their attention towards the practical applications of the technology in the form of platforms and decentralized applications (dapps).
Dapps Need a Break
Adoption of dApps has been particularly slow even though many blockchain ventures saw their utility token supplies sell out during their initial coin offerings (ICOs). Figures from DappRadar show that dapps and services built on Ethereum only have a few thousand users daily. Many dapps with use cases outside cryptocurrency trading even show little to no activity. Most of the utility tokens in circulation have been used primarily for trading rather than for dapp transactions.
Image Source: DappRadar
Most dapps have presented themselves as rivals to many mainstream apps and services but certain factors have made it difficult for ordinary users to try them out. Tse and fellow dapp developers have been working on means to make it easier for people to get into dapps.
The bear market may contribute to users’ growing aversion to crypto trading but this could prove to be the break from speculation that dapps and their developers need to become the draw of the crypto space.
Better Value in Actual Use
Volatility has been one of the key attractions of the cryptocurrencies. The potential for double-digit price swings within a day in the crypto market offers traders the opportunity to earn substantial profits quickly compared to traditional stocks. Others hold on to the tokens expecting prices to rise exponentially like Bitcoin.
But with prices continuing to drop, some tokens may offer diminished returns if used exclusively for trading. Instead of holding on to these tokens, users may actually find more value in using the tokens on their respective platforms.
Several dapps are already live so their tokens can readily be used to avail of the services they offer. For instance, users can now actually rent supercomputing power through Golem or access videos and films on Flixxo. Other post-ICO projects are also well under development.
Simplified Entry for Users
Another roadblock to dapp adoption is the complicated and costly process of actually gaining access to them. Currently, users have to go through several steps if they want to use a dapp. Most platforms require the possession of utility token so users typically have to use an exchange to acquire the required coins. If they need to access multiple dapps, they may also have to use multiple wallets to store different tokens. The transaction fees charged by exchanges also made token ownership and use quite pricey. But with prices now dropping, users may now be able to acquire more utility tokens at a bargain.
Some efforts are also considering to support the direct purchase of tokens through methods like payment cards or fund transfers. Such a mechanism would allow dapps to work like conventional apps and services where users can simply sign up and pay -- a process to which users are already accustomed.
Some platforms such as Cardstack - a blockchain orchestration platform that aims to improve the user experience for dApps - aim to make the user experience. It offers orchestration features that allow users to integrate blockchain data and services into their own workflows
Source: Cardstack on Medium
Developers Encouraged to Launch
To be fair, it isn’t just the market and users that hampered the rise of dapps. Developers have also contributed to the slow adoption. Many of the projects that promised to bring about disruption in many industries have fallen short of their roadmaps. Many have yet to launch.
The blockchain-based file storage segment, for example, has become quite crowded with the likes of Storj, Sia, and Filecoin all vying for prominence. As such, they are compelled to pursue further development on their platforms to gain advantage over their competitors. Unfortunately, all this has been causing the projects delays.
Storj just recently announced that its third iteration has entered public alpha. The new version promises to deliver better capacity, functionalities, and integrations. The project’s engineering director JT Olio shares, “[The] launch of the V3 alpha for developers is a major milestone on the road to releasing the new network and the culmination of a massive amount of work from our team."
Undoubtedly, ordinary users could benefit from secure, decentralized, and affordable online storage. Such updates and news regarding developments help buoy crypto aficionados’ hopes for the projects. But since these services are yet to be made available for all, users have no choice but to stick with conventional services for now.
As more users are able to access dapps, ventures should be compelled to accelerate development. They would definitely want to take advantage of the opportunity to engage the market early and beat their competition.
Maximizing Blockchain's Potential
It’s about time for blockchain and the crypto space to start to mean more to ordinary users than just Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading. The technology does bring potential benefits such as immutable records and secure transactions which could enhance many computing tasks.
For this to happen, blockchain must become relevant for ordinary users and dapps are in the best position to be the instrument to make this possible. Fortunately, a market that’s less interested in speculation could finally create an environment where dapps could flourish, allowing ordinary users to enjoy blockchain-based technologies in their daily lives.