According to a study by Chainalysis, scammers got away with $14 billion worth of crypto in 2021, which represents hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of victims in a community where every negative experience affects everything.
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Scams are shattering mainstream confidence in crypto, perhaps irreparably. A large-scale, coordinated education initiative can help ensure that they don’t.
The common narrative around the prevailing threats to mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies is that regulators will put the kibosh on their legality, it has to get much easier for “ordinary” people to use, and the magnitude of its volatility has to be tempered.
All of these are true. But there’s something perhaps just as consequential: scams, hacks, fraudulent exchanges, dumps and the like. Why? Every attack leaves a scar. And the scars are mounting fast.
Before long, a lawless narrative dominates. Meanwhile, ongoing mainstream adoption brings along with it even more nefarious opportunities as “newbies” — who simply aren’t paying attention to best practices in safeguarding their funds — are further victimized. Millions of would-be participants are now watching on the sidelines and preaching “I told you so” to the newest victims.
Which leads me to my central proposition: an urgent need to go on the offensive. A marketing offensive.
Yes, the quest for innovative new safeguards and security features is warranted and welcomed. But it’s not enough.
Introducing the Crypto With Confidence Project
Here’s what Rich Feldman renowned software engineer propose:
- The top 25 projects by market capitalization, the top 10 centralized exchanges, the top five prime brokers, the top three global trade associations and other stakeholders band together to create a foundation, a decentralized autonomous organization, or other entity in which category consumer education is all it does to ensure that people can Crypto With Confidence. (Treat “crypto” like a verb? Why not.)
- Members of the group, which provide funding and marketplace leadership, are promoted as “sponsors” of the ensuing campaigns, which help them to assert their commitment to security and advocate their brands. It also projects unity.
- Job 1: Create the equivalent of public service announcements and “how to” content to help consumers be more vigilant about the threats they face. Nestled somewhere between “You can do it!” and “Watch out!” — with “Isn’t new technology awesome!” wedged in between — the idea is to groom and educate an activist public in thwarting crypto crime and provide the calm and confidence to enthusiastically participate in crypto and Web3.
- Job 1a: Create a mnemonic such as PARK that can be used universally. For example: “Before you put a transaction into motion, shift into PARK — Pause, Assess, Request, Keep.” Pause to ask the question(s), Is it too good to be true? Is it unusual? Assess the company, project and/or people you’re engaging with. Do you know them? Do they know you? Have you done your homework? Request information, ask questions, and make sure you’re behaving responsibly. Keep your private keys safe and share them with nobody other than those you’re okay with having access to your funds.There are, of course, many ways to approach this.
- Now, to set the right tone and ensure it succeeds, it’s critical to make the effort “entertaining.” Really entertaining — so that I can’t avoid paying attention, so that a sense of seriousness is communicated without it being turn-me-off serious, sothat it’s clear that something which is destined for mainstream adoption is acting in a very mainstream manner. Think Marvel characters defeating punk scammers or a rotating cast of A-list actors playing the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto. And this can’t be a one-and-done kind of thing. It needs to kick off big then become a continuous campaign.
- Incorporate marketing best practices: create a curriculum of content, including a course that concludes with certification; drive continuous engagement via newsletters, Discord or Telegram channels, email journeys, etc.; reward themfor taking the time to become smarter and more vigilant with — you got it — crypto.
Think of it: not only will the Crypto With Confidence Project accelerate best practices in safety and security, it’ll help mitigate a central argument of regulators; consumers and investors can’t protect themselves.
Look, Web3 is still in its infancy. The perceptions, attitudes and behaviors that are forged today are likely to have material impact for decades to come. If venture capitalists can raise billions to fund new projects and protocols, the community can certainly come together to make a massive statement about how it is collectively looking out for the welfare and best interests of the people it hopes to engage.