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Blockchain’s Connection With Internet Users Key to go Mainstream in China, Elsewhere

Winston Ma, an attorney, and adjunct professor has highlighted some of the biggest challenges before China in coming up with creative ways to get more people to use digital yuan (e-CNY).

One way to look at the blockchain economy is that it’s a potential convergence between the mobile internet and the blockchain tech world, says Ma, who is also the author of The Hunt for Unicorns, The Digital War, and Blockchain and Web3 (forthcoming 2022).

“In the past, these two things are pretty much separate,” he said during a session of the Blockchain All-star series where the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN) invites entrepreneurs and innovators to share some of their industry experiences.

He adds that the blockchain tech world – including Bitcoin enthusiasts, programmers who code on blockchains, and others participating in DeFi which now replicates almost everything on TradFi – is still a relatively small community. On the other hand, the mobile internet ecosystem – following the last decade’s boom of smartphone spread – is a huge community with billions of users.

“So, in terms of the digital currency situation in China, it is very similar to any other blockchain applications that are being generated every day,” Ma said. “The question is: how do you make that connection? You come up with a great application out of blockchain technology but how can you connect this with the billions of average internet users? The average user understands what the Internet is but they don’t know what blockchain is. So, in the case of the digital currency, it’s a great thing coming out of the blockchain technology but it would take a lot of innovative marketing, education etc to get the billions of ordinary internet users to sign up.”

He also touched on some of the hurdles that blockchain and crypto have to cross before breaking into the global market like the internet. They include the complexity of the technology as the Internet is easier to understand than blockchain. Another challenge is in the area of usage for payment where the internet has become widely-spread mainly for the popularity of mobile payment.

“In China, Tencent and Alibaba spend billions of dollars to promote the usage of mobile payment. Then, almost 100% of the one billion internet users in China have the mobile payment. Because of the mobile payment, furthermore, they can get into a lot more mobile applications support whether it’s video, online novel, e-commerce,” Ma said. “Related to crypto, there have not been effective crypto payment mechanism. We haven’t seen a global payment rail as smooth as the mobile payment. So, this limits the spread of blockchain applications.”

There is also a need for a native blockchain infrastructure to support the emerging ecosystem to go mainstream, he said, citing that many people still don’t have crypto wallets and they are not very easy to use. Nonetheless, he believes there are some promising aspects as more variety of blockchain innovations emerge like NFT in 2021.

“It came out of nowhere but all of a sudden, a lot of people can participate in NFTs,” he said, citing artists and the sports community among others. “A lot of the non-tech driven sectors are now becoming important players of NFTs. This gives you a lot of hope that innovations would come up, we’ll see more varieties of innovations and this will lead blockchain applications to the mass market.”

Ma’s feature in the series comes as BSN disclosed it plans to launch a beta version of its crypto-free Spartan Network distributed ledger technology for international markets on August 31.

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