Cryptocurrency is no longer a niche investment for the technically savvy. Since Bitcoin’s launch in 2009, there have been more than 4,000 different cryptocurrencies and 250 exchanges established to cater for the digital assets’ growing popularity. It seems like only a matter of time before cryptocurrencies overtake the use of fiat currencies, but this can only happen if a larger audience uses crypto exchanges.
But how can crypto exchanges encourage new users to use their facilities? Louis Granger is the Head of Solution Consulting, EMEA at UserTesting argues this is achieved through User Experience (UX). The more accessible an exchange is the more likely it is to attract new customers who are new to the crypto scene and do not understand it very well:
It’s no secret that cryptocurrency is booming. Bitcoin launched in 2009 and a year later was worth a miniscule fraction of a penny, but by 2013 it had reached the $1,000 mark. This year, the pioneering digital currency reached record highs of almost $64,000 per coin.
With such a huge influx of money and investment in the new asset class, it’s perhaps no surprise that more than 4,000 different cryptocurrencies and 250 exchanges have sprung up over the last decade. But in such a competitive landscape, how can exchanges stand out from the crowd?
User Experience (UX): the great differentiator
Built on deeply technical concepts and processes, like decentralised peer-to-peer blockchain and open-source next generation data preservation market network, cryptocurrency was initially only popular among the most tech-savvy internet users. But as its popularity grows, so too does its target market.
It’s reported that more than 106 million people around the world have now invested in cryptocurrency. Increasingly more of these are everyday users. With thousands of options before them, how will consumers decide where to invest their money?
UX can be the great differentiator. Customers will turn to platforms and services that demystify the cryptocurrency investment journey with easily navigable apps or websites, simple language, and clear, straightforward processes.
Crypto brands are lagging behind
The technical nature of cryptocurrency required early adopters to have a deep understanding of computing and internet technologies. It attracted users with backgrounds in software, computer engineering and finance.
With the broadening demographics of crypto users, brands are facing the challenge of catering to existing, advanced audiences alongside complete beginners with limited knowledge of buying and trading cryptocurrencies. As software engineer Doug Petkanics tweeted, “Some of your users arrive with [thousands] of hours of background context, and others arrive with no context whatsoever. They almost require different products.” And this is precisely why UX is overlooked in the sector – most firms haven’t found a way to cater to both novices and experts.
Why great UX is essential
A competitive edge isn’t the only reason for great UX in the crypto space. Digital currencies are heralded by some as the future of finance, with predictions it will overtake fiat currency as soon as 2050. UX designer Flavio Lamenza says: “If Bitcoin and all the cryptocurrencies might be the future, and it’s up to us (humans) to use it, then a human-centered approach is mandatory.”
Being functional for advanced users will no longer be the only requirement; cryptocurrency platforms will need to provide a smooth, easily understandable and navigable system for consumers at every level.
Fintech challengers, particularly app-based banks like Monzo and Revolut, have revolutionised the financial services industry with radically customer-centric business models and drastic improvements in UX across all aspects, such as application processes, customer service interactions and budgeting tools. This has forced legacy banks and providers to keep up as customers, especially younger generations, have raised their UX standards. These expectations will soon be passed onto cryptocurrency platforms.
While legacy banks relied on their heritage and decades of consumer trust to maintain customer loyalty, challenger banks offered convenience and digital innovation instead. The volatile and highly technical cryptocurrency market will need to ensure UX is tailored specifically to mainstream users if it is to compete with the established financial sector.
Room for improvement
In a recent webinar, Nick Spiller, head of product design at digital bank Xapo, said, “I feel some companies seem to be afraid of testing and research in general. Product teams seem to shy away from talking to customers, perhaps in the fear they’ll poke holes in their product or suggest unfeasible improvements that will completely tear up their company roadmap.”
“Usually at start-ups there’s a sense, especially at the beginning of that company, that ‘we know what our customers want’,” continued Spiller. He believes many start-ups feel the founding team are the target market, and often skip over in-depth research to be the first to market.
But in order to build human-centred cryptocurrency experiences, brands must get into the minds of consumers through services that unlock human insight and allow companies to experience what their customers experience. Users can complete actions on a website, provide feedback on a product or prototype, or perform real-world tasks like unboxing a device and setting it up in their house – all while verbalising their thoughts and feelings – and staff can watch it first-hand. This can give cryptocurrency firms and exchanges the qualitative feedback they need to understand what it is like to be a customer–while also tapping into genuine user experiences and interactions with a product or service. By working with novices right through to experts, brands can uncover insights that will allow them to cater to a range of user types and levels.
The future of cryptocurrency
In 1995, Newsweek published predictions from American astronomer Clifford Stoll about the future of the internet. He said forecasts of “a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries” and the internet replacing a daily newspaper or CD were “baloney”.
It’s clear internet pundits have been wrong before. But if the experts are right, cryptocurrency is set to shake up global financial systems. The cryptocurrencies and associated platforms that are set to succeed in this futuristic landscape of virtual currency will be those that tap into human insights to deliver great UX.