From Crypto-Native to Crypto-Enabled

I’m not one to make big annual predictions, but one thing that seems likely to me is that 2024 will mark the emergence of mainstream apps powered by crypto that are less “crypto-native” and more “crypto-enabled”.

By “crypto-native”, I mean apps & experiences where the crypto is the main point, and where a large part of what’s going on is the road-testing of crypto-economic and decentralized computing primitives. You could characterize most of what has gone on over the last 10 years as largely “crypto-native” explorations: defi, mining/validating, DAOs, MEV, minting & trading NFTs, various hacks, exploits and shenanigans. Basically a decade of exploring the adjacent possible now that we have an ability to build trustless, permissionless, autonomous computing systems with native assets. This has been incredibly important because these systems are both powerful and complex, with tremendous possibility but also many new failure modes.

I believe we will now begin to see more “crypto-enabled” applications. These are applications that not only built on crypto, but could only be built because of crypto. And also where the crypto plays a supporting rather than a leading role. Crypto-enabled applications will, on the surface, look and feel like traditional web 2 applications, but they will have super powers. Examples of this will include international payments on stablecoin rails, marketplaces of all sorts (lending, ride sharing, crowdfunding, etc) where the financial mechanics are on-chain, transparent and open to all, loyalty w digital assets & financial rails baked in, and web3-native media & social applications where users have more control over and economics in their digital output. Given the recent advances in scaling (fast and cheap L1s and L2s), security (transaction scanning, insurance), and user experience (cloud wallets, account abstraction), it’s now possible to build these kinds of applications.

I’m excited to see what will be built in the “crypto-enabled” area. I think these applications have the potential to both re-architect digital experiences in ways that provide new benefits to all participants, and also to help advance a more positive narrative about what crypto can make possible.

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