There’s a contradiction at the heart of Asia’s cryptocurrency community that few people have acknowledged, much less addressed. While cryptocurrency enthusiasts want digital currencies to succeed, their behaviour toward beginners — the people needed for any coin to reach critical mass and adoption — is generally apathetic, if not outright hostile.
You can witness this gatekeeping on any online forum, first-hand if you so dare. Pose any question that a beginner might ask — such as where you can buy Bitcoin, whether X coin is a sound investment, or how to safely store your digital currencies — and you’re sure to receive an avalanche of answers, most unhelpful and many sarcastic.
Some might argue that such a response is well-deserved, since the vast majority of these inquiries can be answered with a simple Google search. But the same could be said of any intro-level questions related to most tech fields. Many of them still boast of online boards, forums, and communities that are beginner-friendly. After all, experts understand that many novices like getting information directly from trusted peers rather than search results.
There is thus no other way to put it: The crypto community is just not a friendly bunch. We like playing the guard at the gate.
Gatekeeping in crypto is problematic because the tech still has such a long way to go. To this end, a study by Invest in Blockchain found that 64% of cryptocurrency projects do not have a working product, while less than 1% of people in the world own any cryptocurrency. Crypto, in short, is at this stage more still an idea than it is an actual innovation. For companies to succeed in creating viable coins and crypto products, and for consumers to use and adopt them, the community, as it stands now, needs to change its orientation toward beginners.
We need to be more welcoming toward anyone who has an interest in crypto, operating under the understanding that people who have little-to-no understanding now may grow to become key stakeholders. The developers new to blockchain and crypto tech may one day create an important industry innovation. The consumers who want to invest in a digital currency today may one day be the largest backer of another coin in the future. The individuals still learning how to store their coins now may one day be important power users and ambassadors tomorrow.
And there is something even more important than the individual contributions that newcomers will inevitably make as a whole. A rapidly growing community will show that crypto will indeed change the world.
A community, of course, cannot change overnight. How we act toward beginners (or “newbs” as they are still often disparagingly referred to, and how we speak to them, and teach them, is deeply ingrained. What we can do now is take the time to introduce anyone in our own personal social network with an interest in crypto through a virtual and real-world tour of its imprint in Asia.
This ask is at least easier than helping strangers online, as we have an immediate connection and a vested interest in winning them over. It would be akin to a Googler showing a friend around the Googleplex in Mountain View: You want them to believe.
Fortunately, Asia’s cryptocurrency community is thriving. There are many successes you can point to, in order to orient an interested friend and persuade them to actively participate in the community. For starters, you can help them open a digital wallet and purchase crypto, choosing from the numerous reputable providers and marketplaces there are in Asia, such as ANXPRO (Hong Kong), Coinhako (Singapore), BitoEx (Taiwan), BitBit (Philippines), Bitcoin Cambodia, and many others.
After you help them purchase their first crypto, you can take a step back — much like how the first imperative of the aspiring filmmaker is to hear director commentary or go-behind-the-scenes of an actual production — by showing them how crypto is mined. If you have connections, you might be able to take them to one of the industrial mining operations that dot Asia, most of which are in rural China where electricity is cheap. But you’ll most likely have to show them someone who has a small-scale mining rig, often using miner’s from China’s Bitmain.
The sight of miners mining crypto in someone’s living room or bedroom will explain the power of decentralisation better than anything else. Cryptocurrency really does portend major changes in how currency is created and maintained.
But the biggest way to ease friends into the cryptocurrency world is by demonstrating that it can be used to transact in the real world. CoinMap provides an overview of places that accept cryptocurrency, but many of these transactions are done manually and are thus clunky. A better bet is to take them to any venue that accepts crypto via a Pundi XPOS, which is manufactured by the company of the same name out of Indonesia. They are currently deploying 100,000 of these devices across the world, including FAMA Group eateries in Hong Kong and even Ultra Taiwan 2018.
Pundi’s XPOS devices are a strong statement in favor of cryptocurrency because of their ease of use, as they operate much like a normal credit card reader or POS terminal. Consumers just use their XPASS card at the XPOS, and then they’re free to use their crypto to pay for goods or services. This kind of demonstration is important for beginners, as the heart of cryptocurrency, after all, is currency.
People are more likely to believe in crypto once they see its utility as a means of payment.
Is it idealistic to expect crypto enthusiasts to help along interested friends or colleagues in their social network? I hope not. The cumulative effect of patiently exposing peers to every part of the industry — from mining, purchasing crypto, and even transacting — is substantial. It may win over more people to the community, combat the negativity that our online community often tends to exhibit, and ultimately add value to your own digital currencies as more people adopt and use them.
The act of patiently introducing friends to crypto may be one situation, then, where the saying “pay it forward” may take on a literal meaning.
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