Ali Ahsan writes in a blog post published by global Fintech firm Circle that the Internet started off in 1969 as a government initiative known as ARPANET.
As explained by Ahsan, ARPANET was established to allow researchers to share important information with each other. He pointed out that it took over 20 years for the first web browser to actually launch. When that happened, it made the Internet commercially available to almost anyone who had a personal computer, Ahsan added, while noting that this “ushered in the era of Web 1.0.”
“From there (with Web 1.0), entrepreneurs built on top of the foundation of the Internet and transformed it into something that’s radically changed how we live our lives. What started out as a research project is now a mainstream utility for over 4.66 billion people across the globe.”
Ahsan also explained that somewhat similar to the origin of the Internet, blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) began as a type of project among a relatively small group of people.
Although the purpose of Satashi Nakamoto’s whitepaper (published in late 2008) was to provide a description of (and way to implement) a cryptographically secure, trustless, peer-to-peer payment system, it also established the foundation for others to leverage blockchain or DLT so that it can support a transformative industry, Ahsan explained.
It’s worth noting, however, that most crypto industry participants are not aware that Satoshi Nakamoto did not actually invent the blockchain data structure. It was actually invented by Dr. Stuart Haber and his colleagues back in the early 1990s and was intended mainly for digital document timestamping.
“Blockchain technology is a radical transformation, the kind that many believe we haven’t seen since the launch of the Internet. Over the last few years, there has been tremendous innovation in the industry with development of different chains such as Ethereum, Solana, Algorand, or Stellar; these chains have served as the building blocks on top of which industries like DeFi have developed.”
Ahsan further noted that with the launch of so many blockchain or DLT-focused initiatives, the overall adoption rate of blockchain tech is the highest it has ever been in its short history.
According to Ahsan, blockchain can achieve its true potential of offering a “decentralized” P2P system of information exchange (although not its only use case or the only way to facilitate this type of exchange), but the industry has to provide more user-friendly platforms and services.
“We are currently in the midst of that happening with the skyrocketing popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs).”
Ahsan confirmed that an analytics firm, called NonFungible, released a report in which they “predicted that 2021 would be a ‘new Bull Market in the NFT industry.’”
Ahsan also mentioned:
“This explosion in popularity of NFTs has brought forth another pivotal moment in the evolution of the blockchain industry and its mainstream adoption. More people are ready to get their hands on the latest NBA Top Shot moment or buy the next Kings of Leon album which was offered as an NFT.”
Ashan further noted that “this momentum that NFTs are experiencing, however, is at risk of slowing down if the experience of buying and selling NFTs remains intimidating to those outside the crypto ecosystem.”
However, this also offers a great opportunity for those who are able to make the experience of purchasing and selling NFTs a lot more intuitive or simpler for those who may not be that tech-savvy.
Ahsan points out that most people do not really know how crypto tech actually works and the process can be quite challenging, which can turn new potential users away. Ahsan asks “how many of these consumers will click to buy something and complete a checkout process that requires them to have a crypto wallet with an [Ethereum] balance?”
He also notes that “chances are not many” people will complete the checkout and purchasing process because they may not even have a cryptocurrency wallet.
Ahsan also mentioned:
“Amazon has set the bar for the standard online checkout experience. It’s what consumers expect to see across the web now whenever purchasing anything. And for good reason, it’s simple to use and effective in increasing online purchases. NFT marketplaces need to offer a consumer experience that matches their experience buying something on Amazon or eBay where they click the checkout button and enter in their credit card information. In not doing so, they’re essentially adding friction to the customer experience.”
Ahsan confirmed that Circle supports Dapper Labs and many other crypto-focused initiatives with a convenient fiat on- and off-ramp that is powered by the USDC stablecoin.
Ahsan also mentioned that with Circle APIs, NFT marketplaces can “make buying and selling NFTs simple: offering both crypto and fiat payment options with a variety of rails including credit cards, wires and ACH.”
He added that they’re able to “abstract crypto entirely to the extent that they want to, or allow users to pay with crypto and traditional methods alike.” He also noted that they can “program payouts as-needed, supporting both buyers and creators on their platforms.”