It’s often quite tricky trying to explain the intricacies of Bitcoin to someone new, especially someone without an IT or mathematical background. The bigger the Bitcoin ecosystem grows, the more there will be an increasing need for products that focus on a newbie-friendly intuitive user experience, without sacrificing the security backbone of users’ funds.
Jade joined our user operations team several months ago as a complete newcomer to Bitcoin, with an admirable work ethic and eagerness to make the blockchain his classroom. In this interview, we discuss his perspective on how we can attract new users to Bitcoin, what excites him most about Bitcoin, and the most delicious 1/2 lb burgers he’s ever had.
Alyson: As someone who dove headfirst into Bitcoin only several months ago, what kind of insight can you share with us about increasing adoption?
Jade: I think there are three stages to new ideas becoming accepted, be it technology, food, fashion, or anything really. The first is awareness; you can’t accept something as a thing if you are not aware it exists. Bitcoin in general, until this past year, has had minimal mainstream coverage and exposure. Events, like the 2014 Bitcoin St Petersburg Bowl, organized by BitPay, documentaries on the subject, and TV coverage, as we saw on Morgan Spurlock’s Inside Man, I believe have done wonders for awareness.
If we want mass adoption, we need to reach the masses and the best way to do that is still TV advertising, I think. I’d love to see a funny or even controversial Bitcoin commercial go viral and end up as a segment on The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight. It may spark conversations around the water coolers and lunchrooms of the world between two non-adopters and that is a step in the right direction.
The next stage is education. This is a complex ever-changing subject that everyone at Blockchain is extremely focused on. People need to know the answers to their first reaction questions. *Where did Bitcoin come from? Who is Bitcoin for? How and where can I use Bitcoin?
The most important question that I mention leads into stage three.
Why is Bitcoin good for me? We can talk all day about global economic benefits and perpetuating social change, but at the end of the day most people make decisions based off their own personal wants and needs, despite the bigger picture. Credit card companies and banks do an excellent job of showing their customers they offer a better deal, with frequent flyer miles, cash back rewards, savings on groceries and gas deals. The customer sees instant benefit to using the service, despite the harsh long term big picture drawbacks to their own actions.
We need to push the personal benefits of no bank fees, no excessive transfer fees, less risk of identity theft and the like in order to give the average Joe a reason to think, “that could benefit me.”
A: Bitcoin’s mainstream success is largely going to be determined by its ease of utility; how can Blockchain and other Bitcoin wallet companies help Bitcoin reach this goal?
J: As adoption rates grow and more new users come into the fold, we have to admit that bitcoin has a steep learning curve. It had a steep learning curve even for the tech savvy early adopters. For adopters without that technical background, the curve is worse despite the user interfaces being much much better than they used to be. We need to assume everyone knows nothing. The most effective education is self-education, but we need to present people with the needed tools and information for them to become competent and secure bitcoiners on their own.
**A: Was there any particular aspect of Bitcoin that was more difficult for you to understand than others? **
“I love playing chess. This has been a semi-weekly tradition with my father, ever since he taught me how to play when I was 4 years old. When I was 20, I finally beat him for the first time, which was seriously one of the greatest days of my life.”
J: I’ll be honest. All of it was confusing, but the only thing that initially served as a real roadblock in my brain was understanding where bitcoins as a currency got their value from. I had to relearn what money actually is and what characteristics money needs to have in order to be effective and valuable. This was a challenge. I had to unlearn what I’d been taught and accepted as fact for most of my life. The idea that money has no value other than what we as people give it, and really grasp that money was little more than a complex ledger of credits and debits, helped me fully grasp what money is and how the value of bitcoins are tied to the utility that is offered by the Bitcoin Network.
A: Now that you’ve developed a cohesive understanding of it, what do you think is most exciting about Bitcoin?
J: I think the most exciting part of Bitcoin for me is the unifying philosophy behind it. I believe peace is found in common ground. The more ideas and values we share as human beings only serves to bring us all closer together. The internet has proven that when you look at the overwhelming decrease in racism amongst today’s youth compared to even 20 years ago. I’m a sci-fi guy and a real life version of Star Trek’s Federation Credits is small step towards sharing a common global value and living together on this earth peacefully, which I hope will greatly facilitate our want and need to explore strange new worlds.
A: As someone who makes their income in bitcoins, have you been able to demonstrate how it all works to your friends and family?
J: I have made it a bit of a habit to take those who come to visit out to lunch at my favorite burger and bbq place, Official BBQ & Burgers, which sells the best 1/2 lb burgers I’ve ever had in my life. I’m there every two weeks or so. They refer to me as the ‘Bitcoin’ guy, which I take great pride in, but also wish I wasn’t so unique in my area on that aspect.
I feel like letting friends and family watch me pay using Bitcoin in the real world is the least invasive introduction possible. They see that happen and get to enjoy an amazing meal; it makes for a pretty stellar secondhand Bitcoin experience.
A: In order to be effective with user support, you’ve got to be an experienced problem solver. What kind of hobby or interest do you have that helps you excel at what you do?
**J: **I love playing chess. This has been a semi-weekly tradition with my father, ever since he taught me how to play when I was 4 years old. When I was 20, I finally beat him for the first time, which was seriously one of the greatest days of my life.
I worked 16 years for that win. **
Unfortunately, any chess-related advice will have to wait until Jade signs up for Twitter.
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