Crypto is all about cults and profit, which often leads to a distorted view of the industry. My personal belief is application-centrism, and by extension, user-centrism. I believe applications should be built to offer the best experience for the user, and nothing else should matter.
Infrastructure should be chosen based on what’s best for the particular application, and should be abstracted away from the user. Things like “decentralization” are irrelevant in and of itself, and only matter if it actually enhances the user experience. A lot of crypto applications may actually benefit from less decentralization in some aspects, while bolstering it in others. At the end of the day, we must examine application design closely and tailor each component of each application based on what leads to the best user experience, rather than having a binary view.
Of course, that is my personal perspective, but this is just not how crypto works. It’s all about cults and infrastructure plays, with L1s and L2s getting a vast majority of mindshare. As such, we have to acknowledge that in reality applications are not built for users, but rather, for L1s and L2s. It’s the L1/L2’s users, then, rather than the users of the applications, that are the target user base.
I’m optimistic, however, that maverick application developers will break down this barrier and own their user acquisition, with their own frontends, fiat onramps and wallets that’ll completely abstract away infrastructure. Indeed, we already have an example of this - Sorare. To the user, it’s like any web2 fantasy sports platform, but behind the scenes it’s settling all financial transactions to its StarkEx validium. Crypto natives will groan “but this is not decentralized enough!”. No one cares about them - the users are all that matters.
It goes beyond that, though. Applications should not be afraid to bring in centralized components where it makes sense, and make the communication very clear about what the risks are. Now, the cryptobros will once again groan, but let’s examine a scenario where Coinbase offers a fully-custodial UX on Coinbase.com which interacts with their Base chain. This is how the UX will be: the Coinbase user can use the Base chain directly with their credit card or bank account. It may not be decentralized or custodial, but as a Coinbase.com user they are well used to this. It’s merely a net positive by expanding what the Coinbase.com user can do. Meanwhile, self-custodial UX will continue to improve for those who prefer that. Choice is always great for consumers.
So, now, then, here’s my appeal to developers, investors, consumers and even infrastructure providers, as it has been for years: build, fund, and support applications that are designed and targeted with the users in mind. Sometimes, the target users are crypto natives, in which case pander to the L1/L2-centric view by all means. But if your target user is the average Jill, then you must have a broader vision, and build an application that’s as seamless as any traditional app, with as few compromises as possible (but boldly making them where it’s essential).