Coinbase, the top crypto trading service, announced this week it would pay rewards in cryptocurrencies to people who sign up to learn more about crypto through an education platform called Coinbase Earn.
I just explained why it’s so hard to make non-crypto nerds to care about digital currencies, and this Coinbase announcement confirms that the crypto industry still struggles to make products relevant to the mainstream.
I’m going to beat this point to death because so much of the finance industry doesn’t get it yet: how would I tell my mom she should sign up for this?
“Hey mom, do you know what a cryptocurrency is” still has two possible answers right now: “huh?” or “is that for buying heroin on the internet?”
So how does it help me to follow up that question with: “Uh, well, you can earn some if you want to learn more about it.” What would my mom do with some cryptocurrency if she wasn’t already on the train to investing it or holding onto it?
The crypto industry must nail a succinct consumer message before seriously investing in education.
If anyone can figure it out, though, it’s Coinbase. The company has the cash and talent to crack consumer crypto. I’d love for it to succeed, but if a 26-year-old up to his neck in fintech chatter like me is still iffy on consumer crypto, that’s telling.
Until the tide turns and I eat my words, people still think the crypto industry is putting the cart before the horse. Here’s what I keep getting asked about Coinbase’s neverending fundraising: what’s up with raising $500 million+ and THEN teaching people how to use the product?
My answer: they’ve raised $500+ million SO they can teach people how to use their product. If crypto is going to be the next consumer asset class, companies like Coinbase must think big, and Coinbase Earn is one small step in what will be a giant leap for crypto-kind.