The Christmas season can be a great opportunity to get your family and friends involved in something you feel passionate about, like cryptocurrency.
Unfortunately, this can be a confusing concept for people to pick up. It’s often misrepresented in pop culture as a fad or even a conspiracy theory. This can be a major hurdle for those who try to get their family and loved ones interested and involved in crypto. There is a stereotypical image of a geeky tech wiz trying to bring down the banks that the community must overcome.
Here are the three major blockers that can cause people to be wary of cryptocurrencies:
- They’re complicated to understand
- They get too much negative press
- They’re difficult to access and use
If you want to expose your family to crypto this Christmas, here are some ways to overcome all three of these obstacles:
TEACHING BLOCKCHAIN TO GRANDMA
Full disclosure: cryptocurrency is not a completely different way of using money. If anything it works the same as old money. They share the characteristics of scarcity, security, exchangeability, and fungibility. The differences really come down to tangibility and the method of keeping track of digital coins from how traditional money (known in the crypto world as fiat) is commonly tracked. A centralized ledger is used to track money in the present, whereas crypto offers to implement a decentralized ledger. This is known as the blockchain ledger.
As someone who has used cryptocurrency in the past, these concepts seem trivial. However, it can still be difficult to explain this to someone who may not even use a next-gen smartphone. To explain blockchain to grandma, or even to your five-year-old niece or nephew, you can use the famous apple analogy of crypto. This is a simple way of explaining cryptocurrency and it goes something like this:
THE APPLE ANALOGY
Imagine if I gave you an apple. I just physically handed it to you. Now I don’t have the ability to give it to someone else, but you can either choose to keep the apple yourself or give it to someone else, maybe in exchange for something you want. That’s how money works.
Now imagine if the apple I gave you was digital. There’s no way for you to check to see that I haven’t sent the same apple to Peter or someone else. This means that the apple is no longer valuable enough to exchange for things you want. This is known as the double spending problem of digital money.
We can use a ‘ledger’, a fancy name for an accounting book, to record any time you or Peter, trade the digital apple. I’ll be the bank. My job is to make sure to track when the digital apple is traded. I am also the only one who can give out brand new digital apples. This way, I will always know who has it.
But if I was not good at being a bank, then the ledger could no longer be trusted.
So, what if you and Peter also had copies of the ledger? In this case, if you chose to give Peter an apple in exchange for ice cream, we can all check our ledger to see if you have an apple to give. Then everyone will record a new trade in their ledger showing you have ice cream and Peter has an apple. This is how cryptocurrency works!
TAKING OFF THE METAPHORICAL TIN FOIL HAT
Grandma may not be the toughest person to convince at the dinner table. Those who have heard little whispers of crypto but don’t fully understand it may be the most difficult to persuade. Especially with the media fear to monger in recent months about huge price swings, hacking of exchanges, and Bitcoin bottoming out, it’s no wonder they may have some reservations. We all have an uncle who likes to play the devil’s advocate, so here are some rebuttals to his snappy questions:
Q: Why does the price keep going up and down?
A: There are a number of factors that go into the price volatility of cryptocurrencies, like the lack of regulations. However, the more general answer has to do with something called The S-Curve of adoption, which is a pattern observed with the advent of new technology. Essentially, the S-Curve shows that when a new technology is being adopted, there is a lag phase followed by an early adoption phase, and then a late adoption phase followed by a late lag phase. Cryptocurrencies are showing the same pattern and are still in the beginning stages of early adoption, which could be compared to the internet back in September 1993 when AOL was mass distributing fliers for free trials of their service. As such, it becomes evident that volatility is simply part of the lifecycle of any major technological breakthrough.
Q: Why are exchanges getting hacked? Is this really secure?
A: Cryptocurrency itself is even more secure than money today. There is very little chance to “steal” this money from someone without them knowing. This has to do with blockchain technology and decentralization. Simply put, blockchain technology provides a copy of all transactions of a particular coin to every participant. Then, when new transactions are being made, they can be confirmed by everyone. So if a hacker wanted to corrupt this ledger, they would have to fool thousands of participants simultaneously. As for the hacks, these are the results of a lack of regulation of cryptocurrencies. It’s important to look for exchanges with strict security protocols, strong identity verification processes when onboarding new clients, and cold storage options. You can also protect your assets by educating yourself about the coins you invest in, the exchange you decide to use and the overall industry. In general, hacks have nothing to do with the security of the actual technology itself.
Q: Why is it not regulated?
A: The Government of Canada has shown its support for cryptocurrency companies and plans to regulate this market to help it grow. Currently, Canada sits as one of the leaders in this newly emerging industry. Regulation implementation for a very new technology takes time, especially as the technology continues to evolve. The other tricky part about regulations is that they can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, introducing strict regulations will make the markets more stable and help lead to mass adoption, however, this might also suppress the creative potential of this new technology. Trying to achieve this balance is what causes delays as far as regulatory oversight is concerned.
SHOW THEM HOW IT WORKS
Talking about concepts that are not easily visualized can be an arduous task, especially if your loved ones are not very tech savvy. It can be tough to break through the state of apathy that people around your Christmas table may feel towards crypto. Talk of encryption and hashing algorithms will really be falling on deaf ears in this case, so the best strategy is to not talk at all! Why not show them instead?
Blockchain explorers can be a great tool to help a curious family member actually visualize the blockchain ledger behind cryptocurrencies. These ledgers include details of people’s wallet addresses to the transactions they have participated in. Even executing one transaction can help explain the concepts of public keys, block heights, transactions ID’s and miners to someone who may not have understood simply by hearing about it. The technical jargon on its own can make such ideas difficult to grasp.
Here are some blockchain explorer sites for popular currencies:
- Bitcoin (BTC) – https://www.blockchain.com/explorer
- Ethereum (ETH) – https://etherscan.io/
- Ripple (XRP) – https://bithomp.com/explorer/
- LiteCoin (LTC) – https://chainz.cryptoid.info/ltc/
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH) – https://explorer.bitcoin.com/bch
- Dash – https://chainz.cryptoid.info/dash/
Another great intro to cryptocurrency can be helping a loved one set up an account on a cryptocurrency exchange, like CoinSmart. This can be a great opportunity to look at and play with the technology more broadly. It helps to explain the different characteristics of coins, and which ones are more dominant over others. The exchange also has trading tools and complex charts to help a crypto curious person learn more about the market from an investment standpoint. Also, this can be a great opportunity to inform them on the regulatory climate of the industry, the verification steps that are normally required, and the vital differences between fiat currencies, like CAD, and cryptocurrencies, like Ripple.
SHOP ONLINE WITH CRYPTO!
When it comes down to it, most people view money in a very specific way; it’s used to buy and sell stuff. This is a major hurdle that cryptocurrency must overcome in the short term since not all businesses accept digital coins. However, there are many ways of getting exactly the items you want using your cryptocurrency. The holidays can be a fantastic opportunity to indoctrinate a family member into the world of crypto, by showing them how they can actually use these coins to buy whatever they want.
Here is a helpful article from the GetSmart Hub on how to make real-world purchases using crypto: The Ultimate Christmas Shopping Guide.
All in all, the transformational nature of cryptocurrency can really inspire one to believe in its future potential. Naturally, people like to share something groundbreaking that they’ve discovered with their friends and family. This can be troubling if your loved ones are not very tech savvy or they’ve already subscribed a negative narrative surrounding this tech. Fortunately, there are ways of overcoming these hurdles.
So it’s time to fire up the chimney and make this a Crypto Christmas! Happy holidays, everyone!