Chain Reaction: Overcoming Blockchain’s Adoption Challenge

Richard Chen
May 09, 2024 / 4 min read

Smart contracts, DeFi, tokenized assets—these buzzwords are appearing more frequently in keynotes, company descriptions, editorials, and public policies, but how many of us understand what they mean? Once a mere concept and now a powerful tool, blockchain technology sits at the core of many of these trending applications that empower businesses and communities to collaborate and coexist like never before. In finance, blockchain accelerates cross-border transactions and decreases costs by removing traditional intermediaries such as commercial banks. In health care, medical records and trial data can be made more accessible, traceable, and secure through blockchain. These and other disruptive use cases are enticing more industries to adopt the technology. But despite its growth over recent years, blockchain and its applications are still greatly misunderstood, which feeds into general skepticism and interferes with the technology’s scalability. 

Last year, the global blockchain market was valued at about $17 billion and is projected to grow from approximately $27 billion this year to $825 billion by 2032. While this projection only accounts for blockchain platforms, solutions, and consulting services offered by companies, we should expect widespread growth from an industry positioned upon interoperability, traceability, and security for years to come. Despite these positive forecasts, blockchain still struggles with its reputation. The regulatory uncertainties around blockchain and its applications, recent headlines ridden with news of fraud involving cryptocurrency exchanges, the enduring blockchain education gap, and the lack of product focus toward more practical use cases for average users all contribute to the industry’s problem with mainstream adoption. This is where more strategic communications and the democratization of knowledge around the blockchain industry can help. 

A 2022 poll found that 64% of U.S. parents and college graduates with a baseline understanding or involvement in crypto believed that crypto should be taught in schools, with blockchain capturing 40% of votes. The following year, another survey reported that while crypto literacy rose in the United States from about 38% in 2022 to 45% in 2023, there is still a significant crypto knowledge gap. These findings suggest that mainstream adoption of crypto, and presumably other blockchain applications, correlates with general knowledge, which reinforces the value of coordinated campaigns that dispel misconceptions, such as crypto being a speculative investment, and informs those without a working knowledge of blockchain’s advantages. Broadly, levels of blockchain illiteracy persist among business leaders, developers, and the public, limiting blockchain’s integration at large. These trends point to effective communications as a bridge between the blockchain industry and everyone outside of it. 

On one hand, there seems to be an increasing amount of marketing and learning opportunities around blockchain and its applications than ever before. Crypto exchanges like Coinbase and eToro ran Super Bowl ads in 2022, while brands like Nike launched their first NFT sneaker collection in 2023. Universities including Harvard and Cornell offer courses in blockchain, crypto, and fintech, and the U.S. Department of Education funds dedicated programs that research and leverage blockchain in education and the workforce. While these initiatives show positive commitments to engaging and building trust with broad audiences, there are still many educational campaigns and programs to be developed that combat blockchain misconceptions while earning the trust and approval from people outside of the blockchain echo chamber.  

For example, more attention towards developing practical use cases for blockchain and effectively communicating the technology’s usefulness and ease of use for the average user can encourage greater awareness and adoption. Next, strategic partnerships between blockchain industry groups, investors, B2B customers, and the government can drive funding and resources towards public awareness campaigns aimed at educating more audiences on blockchain’s full potential. Additionally, secondary and tertiary schools should adopt blockchain topics into their curricula to help raise blockchain literacy rates with the goal of normalizing these topics over time. 

On May 16, Trilligent is hosting a roundtable discussion on the importance of communication and collaboration between U.S. policymakers and the blockchain industry as part of the Digital Chamber’s Blockchain Education Day, an opportunity to engage with elected officials and business leaders on deeper blockchain governance issues following the annual DC Blockchain Summit. As a strategic advisor and communications partner to blockchain-inspired projects and emerging tech businesses, we help bridge gaps between industries, policymakers, consumers, and everyone in between.  

The gravity of blockchain’s impact on society calls for strategic oversight by informed regulators and support from industries and communities of all backgrounds. However, blockchain’s potential is capped when the industry only talks and sells to itself or even just a few communities beyond its bubble. Instead, let us focus on democratizing blockchain and all its glory, and sell its true value to the masses.  


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