If it bleeds it leads, and crypto news these days is bleak. Prices have plummeted, major industry players are laying off workers and spectacular blowups have wiped out billions in customer assets. Those who want to survive will use this Crypto Winter as a reality check and a learning opportunity to build better. The best will learn how to use new kinds of storytelling and stakeholder engagement to create the on-ramps and guardrails for broad market adoption.
The Bank of England’s deputy governor compared the crypto crash to the dot.com bubble—just as the 2001 crash did not end the internet, some crypto projects could go on to produce the future rivals of Big Tech. This may seem like a farfetched analogy today, but when people say crypto, they are often not talking about currencies. What they mean is the entire network of blockchain projects encompassing cryptocurrencies, digital assets, NFTs, DeFi, DAOs and the possibilities powered by programmable money and smart contracts. They are talking about an entire ecosystem of technologies and services much like the internet—not the internet of the early 1990s or the social network and smart phone revolution of the mid-2000s, but what is being called Web3.
Although the promise of these technologies is exciting and inspiring for some, it is often confusing, mysterious and even scary for others due to its complexity and vision for an unknown future.
Demystifying the Blockchain Network for Consumers
In the last few years, the ethos of crypto has been gaining strength among average consumers and its visionary narrative inspired early adopters and true believers. However, Crypto Winter is eroding much of the trust that was gained, and the movement is losing the momentum it needs to truly move forward with consumers even if it is making progress with regulators.
Now, companies will need to not only avoid criticism, but also tell a story that explains what the future of finance could look like and how to get there. To build during the bear market and move towards broader adoption, the industry will need to pivot towards simple language with broad audience appeals, clearly showing consumers, businesses and policymakers how it makes life easier and better and supports the public good.
While the next wave of crypto innovation will need to be more focused on addressing critical pain points for regulators, it will also need mainstream adoption – which will depend on trust. The technology could be revolutionary, but without trust, it won’t go very far—especially with technologies as complex and poorly understood as crypto. However, trust doesn’t have to come from understanding the innerworkings of the technology. It can also come from experiencing and seeing the benefits and outcomes of using the technology. Few people understand how the internet works—try explaining HTTP protocol—but it has become indispensable to our lives. That is the future many see for crypto.
Breaking through the Noise with Human Impact
New product launches or funding rounds do not tell a story that will stick with people or advance the company’s mission. In the current environment, crypto companies need to think about stories that support their brand purpose and corporate mission to create a long-term impact. To get coverage that will truly push the needle for your business goals, you need a world vision supported by proof points and values about the human impact that will make people care about your brand and position your business as worthy of mainstream adoption.
There is much talk about financial inclusion and social impact, but to be credible and newsworthy, this must be supported by tangible examples—emphasis on tangible. For all the promises of crypto, it is often unfulfilled, and with every crypto firm talking about inclusion and impact, it is easy for skeptical reporters to write it all off. Those that want to succeed will need case studies that can dispel the skepticism and make the impact real. People care about people—stories about real people are the ones that journalists want to tell, and audiences want to read.
Financial inclusion is one of the greatest promises of decentralized finance after decades of little to no disruption in the industry. It is also the main driver incentivizing regulators to support innovation in the financial sector given the challenges with KYC compliance, security, and crypto volatility that will need to be addressed. We are also seeing growing support from humanitarian activists as well as use cases in action, from getting money to refugees in Ukraine to preserving people’s life savings in countries with collapsing currencies.
Keep Building and Communicating in a Bear Market
Ultimately, the crypto crash is far from destroying the utopian vision of decentralized finance and certainly, the army of crypto believers are undeterred. For the moment, however, crypto reporters at top-tier outlets are all turning their coverage to the bear market and what it means for the industry. The exciting consumer-facing technologies that dominated headlines during a bull market have been traded in for coverage of crypto failures. However, bear markets spur innovation in underlying technologies and infrastructure like blockchain which will win in the market recovery. With the support of strong storytelling, proof points and case studies and a vision for financial inclusion, crypto will weather this winter storm.