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The tech industry abounds with buzzwords and acronyms that seem, at times, designed to exclude the ordinary user. But “UX” isn’t one of these mere buzzwords. User experience is one of the rare bits of tech shorthand that actually mean something to our customers and clients because everybody knows what bad UX looks like.
But sometimes, great UX isn’t all that it seems, especially for new and inexperienced users. In the last Bitcoin Magazine article penned by a member of the Casa team, we examined Bitcoin’s greatest UX problem, security, and posed the question: How do we make bitcoin self custody simple?
The answer is simple, if not easy: We must teach users how to keep their coins safe by weaving education into the wider user experience, creating an environment where security becomes second nature.
There are many things that distinguish Bitcoin services from other online services, but perhaps the biggest difference is the unique user base. Bitcoiners usually spend a long time reading and researching before taking the plunge. Throughout their product- and ecosystem-vetting process, they remain hungry for knowledge and eager for guidance on how to navigate this new world, with security remaining central to their decision-making methods.
This places enormous responsibility on the Bitcoin businesses that value long-term industry adoption, as well as cultivating strong product loyalty. Because our users are often investing significant amounts — in some cases, a good chunk of their life savings — into the one cryptocurrency proven to be a trusted store of value, providing them
with products that are well-architected and thoughtfully explained, as well as providing the most up-to-date security enhancements, is critical.
But this is a responsibility that our industry has, on the whole, shirked.
It could be argued that trading platforms, exchanges, and Bitcoin wallets have tried to educate their users on the basics. But you don’t have to go too far to find proof that they’re not doing enough to help their customers keep their coins secure.
We’ve already outlined how the Bitcoin ecosystem is failing in its responsibilities. So, let’s look at the corrective: education. We must find a way to provide continuous learning to our users in a way that does not detract from the overall experience of buying, trading or securing our bitcoin.
Bitcoin companies that commit to teaching users how to stay secure will ultimately help strengthen the entire space. But how do we best go about it?
Weave learning into the warp and weft of the Bitcoin user experience in a way that users notice as little as possible. This integration should also artfully prompt people to undertake the tasks necessary to take control of their security so both Bitcoin businesses and their users inherently acquire the skills needed to secure their coins.
The perfect educational system is one where people don’t realize they’re learning. For example, prompting users with regular and well-timed reminders to perform simple security health checks.
As humans are creatures of habit, creating consistent and repetitive reminder processes helps users encode best practices into their custody solutions. To accomplish this, bitcoin custody providers can ping customers with messages to turn on their computers and perform “handshakes” with their wallets, just to make sure everything is working as it should. It’s simple, takes seconds, but it also brings up important questions: Are you using private keys or public keys? Do you know the difference? Is it easy for you to find your wallet?
Providers won’t want to overwhelm the user with constant reminders; nor would they benefit from “gamifying” the experience. Honest providers didn’t go into business to patronize our users, or to make a game out of security. Bitcoin is too serious for that.
If we incorporate concise, bite-sized and well-timed reminders to complete simple tasks, however, that’s our opportunity to nudge our users to educate themselves about security best practices without detracting from the seamless experience.
But popups and e-nudges aren’t enough on their own. Yes, our users tend to be highly technically literate, and they’re usually self-taught. They look for answers in the educational resources that Bitcoin businesses provide, or through third-party YouTube tutorials.
Sometimes, though, only a human will do. That’s why we must complement our educational resources with 24/7 access to expert advice whenever they are in need.
Technology is increasingly devoid of human connection, and Bitcoin isn’t blameless. If we want to deliver the revolution, we need a return to healthy, positive computing. It might seem a bit “1990s” in a world of AI and chatbots, but user support on the phone, delivered by an expert who’s always there when you need them, is something we should embrace, not disparage.
So, after a year in which we’ve been more divorced from each other than ever before, let’s commit to making 2021 the year we get back in touch with our users, and give Bitcoin the human face it has lacked for so long. And let’s remember the words of Benjamin Franklin: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest of all.”
This is a guest post by Scott Hurff. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
Today, Bitcoin custody solution provider Casa announced that it has raised $4 million in seed funding.
“The seed round is led by Avon Ventures, a venture capital fund affiliated with FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments, and includes first-time investment in Casa from Tioga Capital, Cadenza Ventures (the venture capital arm of BitMEX), Coinbase Ventures and Champion Hill Ventures,” according to a release shared with Bitcoin Magazine. “Existing investors also participated heavily, including Lerer Hippeau, Castle Island Ventures, Compound VC and Precursor Ventures.”
The company offers multisignature bitcoin custody and provides subscription-based security plans that can also include emergency support, hardware wallet replacements, estate planning and more. This latest fundraise follows a 2020 in which Casa launched an in-wallet purchasing service that allows users to forgo exchanges when they buy BTC, a free wallet emphasizing new-user friendliness and a bitcoin inheritance program called Casa Covenant.
Meanwhile in 2020, Avon Ventures invested in other industry projects including BlockFi, Coin Metrics and FalconX.
“Casa has built a product that combines best-in-class security with an intuitive user experience,” Sachin Patodia, a partner at Avon Ventures, said in the release. “Bitcoin owners no longer have to decide between simplicity and security for their bitcoin — Casa provides both.”
According to the release, Casa will put the funds toward strategic hires, development of its product suite and growth of its user base.
“Sachin and the team at Avon have thought deeply about the opportunity in Bitcoin self-custody and personal key management, and I’m incredibly excited to partner with them on the next chapter of Casa’s growth,” said Nick Neuman, Casa CEO, per the release.
Bitcoin self-storage startup Casa has raised $4 million in a seed round led by Fidelity Investments’ blockchain-focused Avon Ventures.
The investment comes with a board seat for Avon partner Sachin Patodia, Casa CEO Nick Neuman told CoinDesk. Tioga Capital, Castle Island, Cadenza, Champion Hill, Compound VC, Precursor, Lerer Hippeau and Coinbase Ventures also participated in the round.
Casa will put the funding toward improving the reach of its self-custody bitcoin wallet, anchoring a broader push to woo more users after a year of steady growth. Neuman said new Casa clients increased 325% in 2020 as revenue nearly tripled.
The company, which has raised $7.8 million to date, plans to continue its now year-old focus on building private key management software.
Private keys are decryption keys that give their holder control over the assets in a blockchain-based wallet. Every wallet has a private key, but some crypto services like Coinbase, hold those keys on behalf of their users, mitigating the risk of irrecoverable assets.
Third-party key management often makes a wallet experience feel similar to online banking and likely more accessible to newcomers because of it. But that model strips wallet owners of full control over their cryptographic assets.
“The point of Bitcoin is that you optionally can choose to withdraw it from those financial intermediaries, which is much unlike the traditional financial system where you don’t really have the option to ever withdraw,” said Nic Carter, partner at Castle Island Ventures.
Longtime bitcoiners such as Jameson Lopp (Casa’s chief technology officer) oppose third-party key holders on philosophical grounds.
Neuman said Casa is trying to win new users with a self-custodied key management software that is easy to use and that reduces the risk of lost credentials.
“We’re seeing people who have previously only kept their Bitcoin on an exchange like Coinbase or they’ve even never owned Bitcoin before, and they’re feeling comfortable coming in and holding their own keys with Casa,” Neuman said, explaining the company’s self-hosted wallets.
Casa disclosed the raise at a time of heightened uncertainty for self-hosted wallets. Proposed rules from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) unit would effectively deanonymize self-hosted wallets that transact $3,000 or more. The rule, which is currently in an extended comment period, could deal a blow to the privacy appeal of self-hosted wallet service, if implemented.
Neuman said the round’s well-placed participant lineup gives Casa’s technology a “very strong endorsement.”
“It’s really showing that some of the major companies in this space really believe that the philosophy of self-custody is important,” Neuman said. “One of the reasons why we’re all here is because of the ability to have real true ownership of your assets.”
User experience (UX) has always been the single biggest obstacle of Bitcoin adoption. But not in the way you might think.
The post We Must Solve Bitcoin’s Custody UX Problem appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.