Bringing The Next Billion Users To Web3

By Hsuan Lee, Co-Founder and CEO of Portto

The transition from Web2 - the current version of the internet that we know and use - to Web3 - the decentralized internet - is unfolding faster than expected. But is the Web3 ecosystem well-equipped to handle the massive user base that web 2.0 currently serves? Can Web3 platforms, products, and services effectively replace traditional models and achieve mainstream adoption?

In my honest opinion, web3, at least for now, isn’t ready to compete with web2, especially in terms of mainstream adoption. This is because the web3 ecosystem is still in its early days, and there’s a lot of scope for improvement. The underlying blockchain technology that powers these web3 platforms and services is still evolving. On top of that, the learning curve required to get acquainted with the technology itself is overwhelming, emerging as a significant hurdle for the larger population.

The Current Scenario

When it comes to gaining mainstream traction, there’s a simple rule that every successful startup focuses on: build products and services that are extremely user-friendly, highly compatible, and add value to the consumer experience.

Additionally, every new technology entering the market usually follows a five-phase bell curve model for mainstream user adoption. It isn’t something that happens overnight. Currently, web3 is at the “early adopters” phase - the second stage of its journey.

While I can’t deny that Web3 technology is revolutionary as it is, I also think that the current user experience (UX) is lagging far behind what web2 offers. Other than the early adopters (younger tech-savvy generation), most of the global population still perceives web3 as something straight out of a sci-fi movie - complex, difficult, and hard to navigate.

As I see it, there are several barriers on the road to mainstream adoption - some of which need to be addressed as early as possible. Other than the lack of awareness and regulatory clarity, the dreadful user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) are two significant obstacles to adoption.

Although web2 platforms have many flaws, the ease with which information and services can be centralized and standardized is a huge advantage that web3 is yet to replicate.

For instance, web3 platforms are scattered across individual blockchain networks, each with its own wallets, tokens, and economies. Navigating past these initial stages is a significant problem for the majority of the users. It is clunky, making it unnecessarily complicated for users. Depending on the underlying blockchain network, users are often forced to create new wallets (and remember the seed phrases) to access web3 apps.

Then there’s the problem of speed. Users don’t like to wait. Web2 developers realized this soon enough and have been continuously optimizing their products and services to offer blazing-fast reaction time. When it comes to transaction speed, web3 is far behind web2. And this problem stems from the fact that the underlying blockchain technology is still trying to figure out how to offer faster throughput rates without compromising other features like security and decentralization.

Although there are more than a thousand dApps, most of them related to DeFi and P2E games, there is a serious shortage of compelling Web3 dApps. Compared to the massive and ever-expanding library of applications across both Google (Android) and Apple (iOS) stores, the lack of dApps is disappointing. Those few that exist lack interoperability, cross-device compatibility, graphics and visuals, and seamless user experience.

That said, do you know why centralized exchanges (CEX) are more popular than decentralized exchanges (DEX)?

That’s because an average user finds it easier to start their crypto journey with a CEX than a DEX. Navigating one’s way through a DEX is an uphill battle. CEXs, irrespective of their drawbacks, offer users an intuitive user interface, making it extremely easy to explore the expansive blockchain ecosystem. Web3, because of its focus on decentralization, has turned a blind eye on simplifying the user interface.

What Does Web3 Need?

While several aspects will need to wait until blockchain technology evolves further, web3 developers must focus on addressing the remaining drawbacks. The only way to drive user adoption is by improving the user experience (UX) and the user interface (UI).

For starters, web3 developers must collaborate to develop intuitive login solutions that work across fragmented blockchain networks and the myriad of web3 dApps built atop them. No one wants to go through the hassle of remembering strings of texts just to access a product or service.

Next, web3 developers must focus on bridging the existing infrastructure, rather than segregation it further. Focus on solving the lingering problem of cross-device compatibility. Users should be able to access web3 dApps from whichever device or operating system they want to. In today’s world, where smartphones and IoT devices are becoming an integral part of our daily lives, it is impossible to achieve mainstream adoption if web3 dApps are limited to specific device types and operating systems.

Personally, I feel that all of it boils down to one thing: improving the UI and UX. Once web3 developers start focusing on this, it will remove several barriers to mainstream adoption.

About the author:

Hsua Lee is the Co-Founder and CEO of Portto. Hsuan has been listed as one of the 21 most influential people in Taiwan’s blockchain field, which he’s been actively developing since 2015. He has traveled the world as a crypto nomad, and as Cobinhood’s VP of Engineering, helped build DEXON into one of the top performing blockchains at the time. Hsuan continues to push for a culture of innovation and the mass adoption of blockchain with Blocto wallet, made by Portto.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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