Right now, most people think that the blockchain industry is simply about cryptocurrencies, without realizing the tremendous value that the underlying technology has to offer. Blockchain technology adoption is increasing significantly as businesses and corporations begin to realize its disruptive and transformative potential. This growth shows no sign of stopping as the global blockchain market is expected to grow from $7.18 billion in 2022 to $163.83 billion in 2029.
In order for the industry to continue to grow at this rapid pace, new talent is needed. The total number of blockchain developers in 2018 was estimated at around 105,000, with over 34,000 new developers entering the space to work on open source web 3.0 projects in 2021, the highest number of new developers in history. Recent reports also showed that up to 3,000 new developers are joining Web3 every month towards the end of 2021. However, given that there are approximately 18 million software developers worldwide, there is still a lot of potential to onboard even more new developers.
While blockchain is positioned as a solution to many complex problems and ultimately simplifying outdated practices, the underlining technology is far from accessible to mainstream developers and users. For the full potential of this technology to be realized, the industry as a whole needs to come together and address its technical barriers and the misconceptions of a wider audience.
Simplified blockchain onboarding
To streamline adoption, we need to provide developers with stepping stones to create new and exciting decentralized applications without worrying about learning multiple programming languages. Take the beginnings of the internet for example. We browse the web expecting ease and efficiency, with everything well connected. However, this was not always the case. Each web file was originally an island unto itself, much like individual blockchains are today. Processes we now take for granted, such as sending emails and searching for information on the Internet, were virtually impossible.
Only with the introduction of a universal programming language did the web take the form of the internet as we know it today. HyperText Markup Language (HTML) was used to bridge these islands of web files and became the foundation of web development.
The step towards seamless cross-chain communication
Another barrier to entry for Web3 is a lack of confidence in the functionality of the technology. This is counterintuitive to Web3’s design, which is designed to negate the need for trust, and central to its appeal, as Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, wrote in 2009: “The fundamental problem with conventional currencies is all the trust it takes to make it work.”
However, businesses in particular have been slow to adopt blockchain-based systems, fearing that future government regulations could undermine all blockchain investments made today. Therefore, we must not only emphasize the trusted nature of the technology itself, but also build confidence in the security and future of the industry that has sprung up around it. One way to achieve this is through interoperability.
Currently, Web3 is made up of hundreds of isolated blockchain networks, each speaking their own language and only processing the transactions made on their individual systems. Unfortunately, there are no standards yet for how these blockchains should interact with each other. Lack of interoperability leads to poor asset liquidity, slower transaction speeds, and higher costs due to network congestion. This not only hampers innovation and growth, but also discourages budding developers from building on blockchain.
Returning to our previous HTML example, we can see the importance of a connected ecosystem that enables seamless communication between disparate technologies. HTML created this environment for the internet, and interoperability can do the same for blockchain. As an example, consider the network congestion that Ethereum users have been experiencing for several years due to the network’s lack of scalability and interoperability. While gas fees on the Ethereum network have been falling over the past few weeks due to market conditions and planned further development of the network will address scalability, Ethereum gas fees are expected to increase by another 500% over the next two years.
This is a common theme across the industry as individual blockchains become more siled and developers and users are confused as to where to start their journey and which blockchain they belong to. By linking chains, they can process transactions at higher speeds and with lower gas fees because queuing is a thing of the past. This means developers no longer have to choose between two separate entities and can instead take advantage of a fully-functional, fluid blockchain world. Only by enabling these communities to work together, share liquidity, and grow together can we build an entirely new decentralized financial system and achieve Web3’s goal of making blockchain accessible to all.
Building with accessibility in mind
If Web3 is to be globally disruptive, it must be accessible. Every day, new innovations are created in blockchain networks, allowing us to work, connect, spend and trade in a shared, decentralized digital space. The world’s most popular blockchains now have multi-million dollar assets. Our industry is growing rapidly, making it imperative that those building the underlying infrastructure match this pace with accessibility features for new entrants.
As we continue to build and expand the blockchain industry with accessibility in mind, we will move one step closer to mainstream adoption. By educating the world around us and developing tools to address these challenges, the industry will be able to successfully bring real-world applications to market that will fuel growth and harness the true potential of blockchain. After all, isn’t that the whole point?