Part 1 of this series, examined why people often fear crypto. Age profile, media coverage, cryptos murky past, and tech-jargon barriers, all play their part. What, however, can we as early adopters do to play an active role in responsibly spreading crypto engagement and knowledge? I’m painting in very broad strokes here and aware that each of you will have your own particular social, economic, educational, and political context.
Give them a Tangible Reason to Pay Attention
Let’s face it, you can talk to someone until you’re blue in the face about blockchain, tokens and so on and often make little progress. Give them a stake however and things may change. Personally, I’ve entered into a round of birthday crypto giving. At this point, most members of my family are now the proud holders of 1% of a Bitcoin. Hardly, heavy hitters but they are in the game. In some cases, I hold onto the crypto – just open a separate wallet on my ledger and in others where they are a little more tech savvy – I help them set up a Blockchain wallet. This crypto ‘largesse’ extends to my young nieces and nephews too, never too early and it’s helped start a conversation with other family members. Now 1% of a Bitcoin is hardly over the top but it does open the door that little bit. It has also been useful to me to create small ultra-long-term positions for younger folks as it reminds me of my own long-term investment horizon, particularly in relation to BTC. I gift BTC because of its high profile, most people are at least aware of it.
When I introduce crypto into a conversation I often encounter the same objections:
It’s not even real money. It’s only used by criminals. It’s too early most of these cryptos will fail.
In each case, I’ve learned its much more effective to concede the initial point made.
It’s not even real money.
“You’re right – BTC is a created form of money and not really backed by anything. However, fiat isn’t either. ‘What’s fiat?” and we’re off to the races.
It’s used by criminals.
“Sure, in years past Bitcoin was definitely often used for illicit transactions because the authorities had no idea what it was or how to track it. However, BTC is not anonymous and in fact is a terrible way to conduct criminal activities”, and we’re off….
It’s too early, most of these cryptos will fail.
“Right, absolutely, 90% or more of the current crop of cryptos are doomed to fail just like any other tech start-ups. But the tech is here to stay, the genie is out of the bottle. So, it’s not so much a question of if but what (crypto)and when (adoption)…”
Giving ground, letting people find their place and contribute to the narrative is a much more effective way of fostering interest and engagement than simply rejecting their opinions out of hand (however misguided).
Refrain from Unnecessary Jargon and Pejorative Words
“What’s all this about Bitcoin?” “Easy, BTC is a peer to peer trustless transfer of value secured by a Proof of Work Algorithm”. Clear as day to any crypto enthusiast – largely obscure to anyone else. If they are keen, referring people to accessible general crypto glossaries such as Ethos Knowledge Base or Lisk Academy can also help clear the concept hurdles of basic crypto conversations.
Be gentle, referring to people as ‘no-coiners’ or ‘paper clowns’ establishes an ‘us versus them’ dichotomy which leads many to reject crypto out of hand.
Splash that Crypto
Search out the café or store that accepts crypto, bring your skeptical friend along and actually use crypto to make a purchase. Seeing really is akin to believing. Even just using a Bitcoin ATM can make crypto more ‘real’ for people.
Neither Boast nor Bemoan
Have you made a lot of money investing or trading crypto – great. However, laying your success on your friends and family is a recipe for future disaster. As soon as the market turns (and it will) the knives will be out. In any case, boasting about your ‘sick gains’ has 2 likely outcomes – both negative. FOMO of ill-prepared entrants into the market (Gee, XVG is cheap) or entrenchment of suspicion about this ‘easy money’ endeavour.
Lost 80% of your portfolio value in this bear market and ill-prepared entreats into the market (Gee XVG is cheap)– bear it. Sure, acknowledge the bear cycle but whinging to non-crypto folk about your epic losses is very likely to drive them away from the sphere.
Don’t Enlist to Low Hanging Fruit / The Gullible / The Addictive Personalities
You know the one, the family member who is always up for a punt, the one who gets addicted to everything – please do them a favour and let them discover crypto further down the track.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly– Know Your Audience
Your 70 year old farmer uncle is likely going to view crypto in a completely different way to your teenage cousin. Your banker uncle may not be entirely ready to hear that ‘Crypto will overthrow legacy financial institutions and throw bankers on the scrapheap of history.’ He might, however, be interested in a project like Stellar which is looking to integrate with banks. Just as a farmer might be interested in blockchain use cases for agriculture. Finally, accept that some people just don’t care or aren’t ready yet – let it be.
All sensible stuff, right? Yet time and again I find myself doing the opposite of these things. Reacting poorly to crypto negativity, employing jargon and boasting about a killer trade I made last week (often within a single conversation). Being aware of how your own actions affect crypto adoption is actually something of a challenge at least for me!
As always comments and critiques welcome.