If I was a stand-up comedian and this article was written for entertainment purposes the header would be:
“What the Beep!?”
This is however a technological educational piece to show how technology and particularly crypto is here for the financial freedom and inclusion of all people. It is to show how this new technology will bridge the poverty and dependence gap created by the wealthy, governments, institutional organisations and “superior” social classes.
Finally we are entering a financial revolution where crypto will provide the opportunity for all mankind, independent of social class, race and age to be the boss of his/her own money.
The passion of the crypto community cannot be overstated.
New applications and platforms are created every day while millions in conference and event sponsorships are spent where the latest developments are shared generously in an open source fashion.
If you have been nodding your head to all of the above, and you’re a coder, trader, gamer, tech wiz or took computer science at school, this article is for you…
I have been working for a crypto company since 2014 and can give you a brief summary of most of the top coins out there, the various networks they run on, what an ERC20 token is, smart contracts, DeFi loans, ICO, POW and POS…
But bear in mind, when I first came into this space, I still had to Google: “store in a paper wallet”! (It’s just not tech savvy to write your key phrases on a piece of paper – wait, what are key phrases anyway!?)
I even had to Google: “private key”. I would never have known how to get my private keys, let alone know how to store them, until I understood that they are a bunch of phrases that a blockchain empowered site or device give you to secure the wallet where your crypto tokens are stored.
Now that I’ve matured in this nascent industry, I get a lot of people asking me for advice. Just recently, a 74 year old gentleman from a Gauteng farm reached out to me to find out about this Bitcoin thing and how he can “get in on the action”. Our journey together included explaining how he would have to register his bank account to do an EFT (ie. send the money from his bank account through the computer to another person’s bank account). It also included explaining that he needs an email address. I could audibly hear his disappointment that despite him having a mobile and being able to send SMS’s to his children and having a computer, it was still not enough to become part of the “crypto club”.
One famous sentence within the crypto space that this gentleman will have to quickly understand is: Not your keys, not your crypto.
And the best place to store your keys? In my opinion it’s one of Trezor or Ledger NanoS “hardware wallets”. I have both.
The Ledger NanoS lies in the drawer next to my car keys and has been there for many months. From time to time I take it out of its box and watch another YouTube video presented by a tech savvy individual who with the best intention wants to educate our non-tech folk. I fumble about, get lost in the terminology and then put it back into its box.
There is still no crypto on it, despite having created a BTC, Ether and ADA wallet.
My Trezor however houses all my saved crypto, since as a responsible crypto owner and leading by example, a hardware wallet is where your long term holdings should be (I strongly suggest not keeping your crypto on an exchange). I do not have to remind any of you of the infamous 30% Bitfinex hair cut a few years ago (although the nice people at Bitfinex did refund all their clients in a short time period, giving that episode a happy ending).
I also saved my recovery phrases in a safe place. Several safe places actually. Recovery phrases are like house insurance, you have it, but you hope you will never have to make use of it. Alas, we have Murphy… and Murphy arrived on my doorstep in the form of a non-functional screen on my Trezor device. The horror!
Faithful Google was my first avenue, but nowhere is there a result for: “Trezor screen malfunction, what now.”
Also not helpful: ”Using recovery phrase from Trezor to recover precious crypto.”
A helpdesk email was my second option. The friendly reply ensured me it is most probably just my USB cable. Perhaps my point by point reply on the fact that my PC is registering the Trezor connected to my PC with the USB cable, is the reason my responses ran dry.
My user experience was a poor one to say the least.
Taking into consideration my desperation to get my hardware wallets to work, let’s return to our friend the 74 year old Gauteng farmer. When trying to broach the subject of a hardware wallet with him, he asked “Girly, what is a USB cable?”
At the point I gave him the unforgivable advice: Just keep your crypto on the exchange and hope for the best! (I didn’t actually say the “hope for the best part”.)
But even exchanges: Their user interface can cause the most intelligent of minds (me!) break out in a cold sweat!
I’m not going to call out any further companies out by name, but I do hope there is a small spark of understanding within this respected community of geniuses, that perhaps your applications and platforms aren’t as user friendly as you think! Perhaps you’re not being inclusive, and by the very nature of being experts in a particular field, you’re excluding the very group of people we so advocate this tech to be made for?
I mean, I still think it should be possible to courier a Trezor with a broken screen to the Trezor hospital to be repaired? Ok, ok – I will let it go!
Consider George Floyd for a second… His tragic murder brought to the public’s attention again the very hard truth of white privilege. Will we find ourselves in the not too far future hear the term: tech privilege?
Will there be a very big part of our society being left behind again?
In my ultimate meltdown moment, I turned to our CEO at Stratum, Rocelo Lopes, who recommended going the Exodus route.
So I give Exodus a go, and end up getting an error message to which once again there was no explanation anywhere online to help me. A knot began to form in the pit of my stomach. Did I manage to copy the phrase incorrectly three times?
Finally in technological defeat, I sent Rocelo my recovery phrases (a very big no-no in crypto world). It would appear there was a bug on Exodus, since the next wallet he tried worked, the crypto was imported and he transferred the BTC to my wallet on one of the SA exchanges!
And there you have it! I am officially in the same boat as my 74 year old Gauteng farmer. Crypto on an exchange and hoping for the best!
Proof that sometimes doing all the right things in a not so easy to navigate field, can backfire on you.
Thank goodness my friend Rocelo has various computer science degrees and happens to be one of those tech savvy wizzes.
This article is written in solidarity to all the people who once thought that they were smart, but have of late become incredibly stupid.
You know who you are. Just like me you are wondering if all those teachers who gave you “A’s” in school and prized you top of the class, were making a mistake.
It is time to understand what is needed from the crypto society to achieve mass adoption.
It might not be a new application or platform. It might rather be a much slower and in “Grade 1 language” YouTube video.
FAQ sheets might need to include the basic functionality of a product!
In conclusion: My said tech genius CEO might discover the gaping gap in tech knowledge of a particular staff member, so if any of you know of any stand-up comedy gigs – I have plenty of “beep” varieties available.