There’s so much hype around blockchain technology and for good reason. That being said, when you step back from the noise and peel away the layers of exciting features, use cases, and critical acclaim, you spot serious limitations surrounding building on the blockchain.
You discover the complexity of creating blockchain products, cutting costs, and maintaining profitability while trying to find a balance between decentralization, scalability and security. What’s more? You soon find out that building a solid product isn’t enough, and you still have to drive adoption in a space that is still largely unfamiliar to the majority of people.
Bearing in mind such problems that may deter businesses from exploring blockchain, we organized a webinar tagged “Built for the Blockchain.” The goal was to bring experts together to walk founders, developers, marketers, and others through the processes of building, securing, and marketing crypto products.
Let’s take a quick dive into the sessions at the webinar and notable points.
Session 1 - Smart Contract Wallet and Its Use Cases (Okwu Kinikachi) - Senior Software Engineer, Bitpowr
Managing treasury operations, facilitating financial transactions and delivering financial services using blockchain technology has several benefits ranging from transparency to reduced costs. But you can scale these benefits by opting for a smart contract wallet. At the webinar, Okwu Kinikachi, a senior software engineer at Bitpowr gave us a primer on smart contract wallets, their benefits, and their uses.
According to him, “smart contract wallets are multi-signature wallets that use multiple keys to authorize operations on behalf of contract accounts. You give these wallets authorization to execute transactions on your behalf.” He went on to list the benefits of using a smart contract wallet over a regular one:
- Transactions are relatively cheaper and faster.
- Fund management is automated.
- Contracts remain unchanged and work consistently.
- No third party is involved after transaction authorization.
- Smart contract wallets do not rely on private keys to initiate transactions.
Kinikachi wrapped up his session by exploring the capabilities of Bitpowr’s smart contract wallet, which according to him, “allows you to do more with the blockchain.” Bitpowr’s smart contract wallet saves businesses costs by only redeploying active issued addresses (auto-deploy) to prevent businesses from paying fees on inactive ones.
It also includes a flush feature (auto-flush) for native and non-native tokens that enables businesses to configure how funds from multiple addresses will automatically move into their master address for easier management.
Session 2 - Customer and User Protection in Web3 (Oluwatimilehin Omotoso) - Product Manager at Dojah
Recent data shows that about $2.98 billion has been lost to digital asset theft in 2022 as of October 31, this is almost twice the loss recorded in the entirety of 2021 — $1.55 billion.
Stats like this highlight the vulnerability of the current blockchain landscape which could also deter users and jeopardize existing crypto businesses. Oluwatimilehin Omotoso, a product manager at Dojah, led attendees in a session on user protection for blockchain businesses.
“Generally, we have seen a lot of attacks in the web3 space but that’s because it’s a new space, a new ground. People are getting to study it, understand it better and tighten the loopholes associated with it,” Timilehin said.
According to Timilehin, these attacks matter because they affect users and may also hurt the sector in the long run by eroding people’s trust in the space. “One way or the other, the user loses money and they lose trust in the space gradually,” she noted.
With such critical problems, solutions are imperative. Current solutions for user protection in the web3 space:
- Securing fundamental IT infrastructure such as domain names and network environments.
- Minimizing the potential exploitation of bugs on smart contracts and codes.
- Managing wallets and funds with fewer risks.
- Conducting regular reviews and staying up to date with the changes in the web3 security space.
Timilehin pointed out the proliferation of cybersecurity companies and how they would improve web3 security and also the increasing efforts at delivering lots of education on user protection which will reduce the attacks. “We already have cybersecurity companies addressing the problems so we might have fewer attacks. Maybe we can also take some cues from user protection in web2, renovating and adapting these methods to the web3 space.”
Session 3 - Building on the Blockchain - Consideration and Use Cases (Nonso Ikenwa) - Senior Product Manager, Bitpowr
According to Nonso, “one thing we want to focus more on is building relatable products that people can easily interact with and use to solve their problems,” and this begins with understanding the blockchain, recognizing its potential and figuring out how to harness it.
To buttress his point, he offered two hypothetical scenarios — Peter who wants to send money to his mother in Nigeria and then a company looking to securely reach a wide audience with its shares.
Peter might opt for Western Union or an interbank transfer but they both have limitations such as high fees and slow settlement. Peter could instead go for a crypto-powered cross-border solution, pay lower charges, and ensure faster settlement, while the company could tokenize its stocks.
He further delved into the inherent benefits of blockchain technology citing trust, its decentralized structure, speed, immutability, reduced cost, speed, ability to power tokenization, and more.
According to Nonso, there are critical steps to take note of while attempting to build a blockchain solution:
1. Use Case Identification Figure out the target use case and why you want to build it. Ensure it makes business sense and provides value to users and your business. “Don’t just build something out of thin air,” he advised.
2. Scalability “You have to build with scalability in mind. Make sure the tech stack is scalable and the blockchain you’re building on can accommodate more use cases for future growth,” Nonso quipped.
3. Interface Decide on the interface which will depend on your product approach. You can opt for a user interface (UI) or an API interface.
On the opportunities available to businesses, Nonso listed the industries that are being disrupted by blockchain technology and of course mentioned banking first.
“We have the banking industry. We all know that the banking industry is reeling from the introduction of blockchain technology. People are relying more on crypto than normal banks because they want faster transactions and lesser charges and want batch payments and automated transfers.” Other sectors include cyber security, healthcare, supply chain management, government and identification.
In conclusion, he noted Bitpowr’s ability to help businesses bring their blockchain solutions to life. “Bitpowr is a modular blockchain infrastructure product that enables businesses to build and scale blockhain-powered solutions in reduced time while saving cost. We provide tailor made solutions for businesses looking to leverage the blockchain to build amazing services. Whatever vision you’re looking at, we can provide infrastructure for you to build on the blockchain,” Nonso said.
Session 4 - Marketing Your Blockchain Product - (Harrison Obiefule) - Web3 Marketing Comms Consultant
Perhaps to drive home the critical need for businesses to simplify their solutions and how they talk about them for effective marketing, Harrison kicked off by giving a simple explainer of the blockchain using relatable examples to explain everything from what the blockchain is to its appealing traits such as immutability, reliability and speed.
“I try to break it down as much as possible because what we do in this space is confusing and a lot of people avoid the space because originally, this whole thing was built by devs and they can be really technical.”
Harrison noted that a marketer’s job begins with thoroughly understanding the product, including details such as why it’s built on a particular blockchain as they’d need details like this to sell the product.
“As a marketer or someone who’s intending to launch a blockchain product, you need to not just understand the end to end, you need to understand why it’s being built on that blockchain and what the advantages are because many times when you’re marketing or pitching your product, you could be asked what chain it’s built on. Some of these platforms also help out with funding, advice, tech and as a marketer, you need to understand how these all play out.”
Harrison would later identify three steps involved in marketing crypto products:
1. Data and Research “I think marketing your blockchain product starts from data and research. The mistake I see a lot of blockchain companies make is not a lot of user research that goes into their marketing. They’ve created a product, hired a marketer and built a community and the next thing they do is go to mass marketing. I’ve seen this happen a lot of times.”
Understanding data and research starts with figuring out your “why.” Harrison explained that products that move the needle are those that solve real-world problems. Understand why the product exists and the problems it will help users solve. He also noted the need to develop a whitepaper and a roadmap that can act as reference materials for other forms of marketing including content creation, partnerships, etc.
According to him, getting a firm grasp of your user persona is also critical. “When we talk about user persona, we mean characteristics or archetypes of users that will adopt your product. What are their goals? Where do they shop? What are their likes? What socio-economic class do they fall into? What products do they use? What are their buying habits? You need data, insights, numbers on not just your customers, but the industry at large.”
2. Community “Unlike web2 where there’s a product and we go into mass marketing, in the blockchain space, the natural progression is to build a community.” He went on to list the advantages of building a community including having loyal followers who will engage your product and push it within their sub-communities.
“A lot of people confuse community for followers. When you ask people what is your ccommunity’s strength? They calculate the social media followers they have but that’s not a community. A community interacts with each other, creates their own ties, vibrancy and culture all facilitated through their shared passions or interests.”
According to Harrison, you have to define your community mission, goals, values and metrics, and consider exploring events for community building. “For example, FTX just had this beach party called FTX Experience and we were able to gather members of the community to eat and drink. What that does is to create some form of bond and you get to expand your community,” Harrison offered.
3. Retail Marketing or Mass marketing “Not all blockchain products go the route of mass marketing but most that have found product market fit may feel that’s the next step. This is where influencer marketing, paid marketing, brand marketing, and event marketing, come into play. Consider what kind of influencers you are going to use. Do you go for blockchain influencers or celebrity influencers like we did at FTX?”
Session 5 - AMA Session with the CEO of Bitpowr, Oyetoke Tobi and Nonso Ikenwa
Before taking questions, Tobi noted the potential of crypto in Africa: “crypto is a need in Africa,” he said and went on to cite interesting stats such as how Africa has seen a 2670% growth rate in crypto adoption, the highest in the world.
According to Tobi, the product use cases that will power the next billion crypto users globally include wallets, Defi, banking, settlements, payments and tokenization. He ended his preamble by saying that “with blockchain you get to build modern rails for financial services and institutions. A modern financial system for Africa by Africans is possible with Bitpowr.”
Tobi answered interesting questions including what his experience was like building Bitpowr. Tobi said, “when we started, we were thinking about building a payment infrastructure to help online merchants accept crypto payments but when we looked at the market, we saw lots of things to solve apart from payments. We thought ‘if we were providing just payment, we might not be able to capture a large portion of the market.’”
“We had built a lot of things from scratch, from running our nodes to building our own wallet infrastructure and MPC infrastructure. Most payment providers don’t do that, they use another provider but we started from scratch and when we were ready to capture more markets, we saw we had done a lot.‘’
''It was exciting because it took us 9 months to build the first usable product in terms of people connecting to the API, generating wallets, and sending transactions. It was also a learning process as a lot of our team members weren’t blockchain experts,” he added.
On challenges, he noted that “the fact that we are supporting multiple blockchains, trying to bring everything into one product can be very hard because they have different properties and use cases so it was complex but we knew our goal and it’s to help businesses build blockchain-powered solutions fast and seamlessly. After about 3 months of testing, we launched January 13, 2022.”
On whether Bitpowr has plans to provide products directly to consumers, Tobi said our focus is on helping businesses build products for end users but we have plans for an end-user product focused on helping consumers to convert cryptocurrency to naira and also an open-source wallet anyone can install.
“Built for the Blockchain” was a product of an epiphany that our CEO had. After sharing it with Nonso, the team made it happen. The plan is to create a structure that helps this morph into a consistent engagement.
In the meantime, are you building blockchain products? we’ve built the infrastructure you need, so you can focus on innovation. Come talk to us.