Pablo González
Co-Founder and Chief Design Officer
Startup Contributor

The Role of Design in the Mass Adoption of Cryptocurrencies

By Pablo González | Tue, 05/04/2021 - 09:06

Due to the recent boom of cryptocurrencies worldwide, it would seem surprising if someone hasn't at least heard of the term "cryptocurrencies," which refers to digital currencies that work using a complex cryptographic system.

Since their creation in 2008, their growth has been both gradual and exponential, and millions of people continue to follow their trajectory and talk about them because of the innovation they have introduced to the financial world.

Blockchain technology allowed the creation of completely decentralized digital currencies; they do not belong to any state or bank, but to the people themselves, which also represents a completely transparent system since the record of transactions can be accessed publicly on the blockchain.

The media, magazines, books and movies have explained in various ways bitcoin’s creation, operation and how it is traded, so anyone with a little interest in the financial market is able to describe what bitcoin is. However, few people have noticed one important feature of this technology: its design.

In late 2020, it came to my attention that the teaching center IIT Institute of Design, under the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, conducted a study commissioned by Fortune magazine, which included the 100 best designs of the last 100 years.

This compilation included various types of designs and innovations, such as the Sony Walkman; it included highly technological products, such as the Smartphone; and it also included projects that have transformed the lives of millions of people, such as bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency that was created 12 years ago.

This is not surprising, because from my experience in design, marketing and product development, I have been able to identify the factors that influenced bitcoin to be considered one of the best designs of the last 100 years; this is characterized by its golden letter "B," crossed by two stripes that mimic the dollar sign, that is surrounded by futuristic elements and words like "decentralized" or "peer to peer," characteristics of the currency. And this is not to mention in technical depth, the design behind its operation and blockchain, which are also other important factors when talking about bitcoin.

However, when talking specifically about financial products, the issue is even more important and necessary, because while traditional financial service providers evoke the nature, architecture or even the traditional history of each country when designing the communication of their services, when talking about cryptocurrencies, at Bitso, we have identified a great challenge: to convey the benefits and power of the money of the future, to which people have access today.

Now, it is true that using bitcoin was complicated and storing it was even more difficult. To access this new digital economy in those early years, you needed technological know-how, patience and a lot of optimism. All those people who adopted the technology early on had to encrypt their own wallets and send transfers around the world.

Now, after 12 years, things are very different, as bitcoin is no longer just for a techie community. It has been simplified in such a way that anyone, including the boomer generation, can use cryptocurrencies in their daily lives easily and securely. For Bitso, everything changed the day we saw the first user using bitcoin to send money to his mom from the US to Mexico.

This small action validated what we were trying to create from the beginning. We also realized that there was a long way to go to improve not only the experience, but also to contribute to the community through the development of innovative and simple products that really generate a positive impact on their daily lives. That is why we decided to make a strong commitment to designing much simpler and more intuitive products, as we are sure that only in this way will we be able to continue driving this technology forward and providing access to the future of money today.

After the December 2017 crypto hype, when the price of bitcoin skyrocketed to levels never seen before, we launched an intuitive and easy-to-use app, which allowed our users to buy, sell, store and send cryptocurrencies in real time, making it even easier to interact with cryptocurrencies from a cellphone and as easy as a click of a button.

We understand that cryptocurrencies may seem intimidating to some. However, we believe it is our responsibility to continue to develop products that fit people's needs and positively impact their day-to-day lives, to continue to educate the community about this technology so that we can provide more and better tools with which people can decide about their money.

I am sure that as the world continues to pay more attention to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, our goal will remain the same: to make them easier to adopt, use and understand.

This decade will mark a new era of innovation and collaboration with crypto communities around the world. That is why we continue to work hard to contribute to the development of an entire community, through the design of products that are increasingly innovative and more useful in people's daily lives, as well as to provide the necessary tools and education to all these communities so they can make decisions about their assets and significantly impact the way they use money.

Photo by:   Pablo González