Blockchain is undoubtedly far more mainstream than it was a few years ago. There were fewer than 5 million blockchain wallet users during the first quarter of 2015, but that figure skyrocketed to over 25 million by early 2018. Forbes reporter Michael del Castillo recently pointed out that in Forbes’ Global 2000 list of the world’s largest public companies, all top ten firms currently devote resources to blockchain.
The average person on the street has likely heard of Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and even blockchain. But do they use it? Despite blockchain’s growing public profile, actual adoption rates remain low. In a January 2018 survey from Global Blockchain Business, only about 5% of respondents owned cryptocurrency. Though many large businesses are experimenting with backend blockchain solutions, those solutions are still far from widespread implementation.
Slow and expensive transactions, safety concerns, and difficult-to-use interfaces are just a few of the obstacles to broader implementation. But blockchain enthusiasts shouldn’t give up hope just yet. These five projects are working hard to create a mainstream-ready, highly functional blockchain ecosystem.
Coral: Protecting Blockchain Users from Phishers
Phishing is a significant problem in the crypto community. About 10% of funds meant for new crypto projects wind up with phishers instead, and many phishers hack email and Twitter accounts to masquerade as legitimate crypto entities and offer phony “giveaways” in return for small deposits. Even experienced crypto traders often fall for sophisticated phishing scams, so it’s no wonder that many would-be blockchain users feel unsafe entering the crypto market.
Coral is a multi-blockchain project tackling the crypto phishing threat. Coral maintains a continuously updated database of fraud activity, and its decentralized blockchain crawler uses this information to graph all P2P interactions on the network. The crawler gives every blockchain wallet a trust score based on its associations with trusted or fraudulent activity and funds. When Coral users type in a wallet address, pop-up prompts automatically inform the user of the wallet’s trustworthiness (or lack thereof).
Nano: A Faster Blockchain Network
Even moderate mainstream adoption has drastically slowed many blockchain networks. During Bitcoin’s price hike in late 2017, transactions often took the better part of a day. The Ethereum network ground to a stop at around the same time due to heavy activity on the popular CryptoKitty DApp–though that activity stemmed from fewer than 200,000 users.
Nano (formerly RaiBlocks) has a solution. Their block-lattice architecture means that every network user has their own blockchain. Each account owner updates their blockchain, which makes transaction verification near-instantaneous. The network stays secure through a delegated proof of stake protocol.
Tip Blockchain: Providing User-Friendly Payment Tools
Blockchain projects can be difficult to access for users without high levels of tech, programming, and crypto literacy. Email became ubiquitous thanks to applications that allowed easy use without much understanding of the technology behind it. Blockchain needs the same kind of tools.
Tip Blockchain is one of the first blockchain companies to take the problem of user accessibility seriously. They’re building a network for sending and receiving payments. But instead of long and complicated wallet addresses, users can search for each other by username. A light desktop wallet lets Tip Blockchain users easily connect to the network, and transaction data lets users attach notes and receipts. A dedicated point-of-sale system for merchants means that there’s finally a user-friendly tool for sellers to accept crypto payment for goods and services.
Stellar: Affordable Blockchain Transactions
Blockchain networks that struggle to scale also tend to be expensive. During Bitcoin’s late 2017 bottleneck, users paid an average fee of $28 per transaction. Ethereum’s transaction fees spiked at $4.15 in January 2018, and this less-exorbitant figure is still high enough to limit innovation and activity.
Stellar is leading the blockchain world in providing low-cost network utility. This project uses a unique consensus protocol and a group of trusted anchors, such as banks and payment processors, to facilitate near-instantaneous and highly affordable financial transactions on the Stellar blockchain network. Stellar’s native Lumen tokens act as an internal asset to drive Stellar’s fiat currency processes, which let users exchange and send money across international borders cheaply and enable cost-effective micropayments (a one-cent fee covers about 600,000 transactions).
Ethereum: Building User-Ready Applications
Cryptocurrencies, for the time being, have limited appeal to potential mainstream adopters who feel uncomfortable using crypto assets as a replacement for fiat currency. But what if blockchain tokens help those people unlock new utilities in unique applications? And what if anyone, not just crypto experts, can use those applications?
Ethereum is one of the leading blockchain networks because it facilitates precisely that. Developers working on the Ethereum Virtual Machine can build a vast array of decentralized applications (DApps) that run over the Ethereum network rather than on one centralized computing location. Over 1,500 Dapps currently run on Ethereum. Ethereum’s developers are working hard on tackling its scalability challenges, planning future transactions to both sharded networks and proof-of-stake consensus protocols.
Mainstream blockchain adoption isn’t here yet, but it’s growing closer every day. These projects are helping to create a mainstream-ready blockchain world.