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Mass adoption may take crypto toward centralization

This is the year cryptocurrency finally starts to break into the mainstream. From Elon Musk and Tesla investing in and accepting Bitcoin (BTC) to the recent nonfungible token craze, the days of blockchain tech being the domain of cypherpunks and coders are behind us.

Still, the technology has not quite advanced to the stage where the average person will feel comfortable using it. And the longer the usability of cryptocurrency takes to reach the level where it connects with nontechnical users, the higher the risk that centralized companies will take over the task of improving accessibility instead, harming the censorship resistance of this relatively new technology as it finally surges into the mainstream consciousness.

Let’s look at the state of the crypto usability landscape as it stands today.

Bitcoin’s “Lightning-or-bust” approach faces hurdles

When Bitcoin chose to reject on-chain scaling via big blocks, it essentially placed all its hopes and dreams of being usable as an everyday currency on second-layer scaling solutions, foremost among them being the Lightning Network. While functional today, the Lightning Network nonetheless introduces a whole new host of complexities, including liquidity balancing, opening and closing channels, routing payment paths, maintaining connectivity at all times in order to receive funds and so on. And perhaps most challenging to new users, moving funds off-chain onto the Lightning Network requires an on-chain transaction (as do various other Lightning Network functions), triggering those awful, long confirmation times and high transaction fees. All in all, this is a frustrating experience even for a savvy cryptocurrency user and an absolute non-starter for complete newbies.

Thankfully, tireless developers have deployed a new generation of Lightning Network wallets that significantly improve the user experience to a level where a nontechnical user may be comfortable using them. The second-generatio...

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