On November 15th 2018, several days after its launch conference in Shanghai, the Public Chain Technology Alliance (PCTA), an organization committed to greater blockchain collaboration and openness, hosted a live ask-me-anything (AMA) session on Reddit.
Representatives from two founding member-projects of PCTA, including Aero Wang, co-founder of Nebulas, and Hughes Ching, CEO of XMax, answered questions from AMA participants. Leaders of other PCTA projects, including PChain, Bottos and Atlas Protocol (ATP), also chimed in.
Questions fielded by AMA participants covered a wide range of topics, both popular and esoteric. In response, Aero, Hughes and others, shared their perspective on the future of blockchain, with frank assessments of the current state of the sector, and their view on how PCTA will enable more robust and sustainable blockchain ecosystems worldwide.
Some key themes and takeaways from the AMA include…
Lessons from the blockchain winter
Cryptocurrency prices have declined by 70% since peaking in December last year. This has caused some casual enthusiasts and investors to lose faith in the space. Hughes said market cycles in blockchain are relatively short and extreme, and that projects must remain vigilant against volatility. Yet, despite “crypto winter”, Hughes is seeing a growing number of people joining the space every day. Projects must continue to attract and retain these users.
Aero explained that Nebulas was well-prepared for the market volatility. With over six years of experience in the space, this is not the first crypto winter he has witnessed first-hand. Since 2013, Aero was involved in Bitsclub, the first blockchain-focused angel investor community in China, and in the launch of NEO, China’s first public chain project. Throughout this time Aero noted how many of the most successful projects break out after a winter period.
What is PCTA? A laser-focused explanation
With growing uncertainty over the near future of blockchain, PCTA members banded together to demonstrate their belief in blockchain, and to commit toward helping one another realize their dreams in the space.
PCTA members will leverage their respective strengths to work toward win-win results. Each project will play and share according to its comparative advantages, like a free market, said Aero.
Alliance members will collaborate on all fronts, including technical development, community development, marketing, design, and more. PCTA will also act as a platform for greater transparency around blockchain, and Aero revealed that future AMAs and offline community meet-ups are already in the works.
Barriers to blockchain adoption
Yet fundamental barriers to blockchain adoption remain, including the immaturity of the technology’s infrastructure, which makes it costly to integrate blockchains with information and assets from the outside world. As a result, there is no effective model to connect blockchain with traditional internet users and services, according to Aero.
One of the PCTA’s key directives is to connect blockchain and traditional industries, and provide blockchain services for real business use-cases. PCTA is also working to establish technical standards across their protocols, to improve blockchain interoperability and make it easier for developers to move and deploy decentralized applications (Dapps) across various chains.
Poor user experience (UX) is another major barrier to blockchain adoption. For example, Hughes mentioned it took him 40 minutes to sign up an account on EOS, one of the most prominent public blockchains. Therefore, PCTA has agreed on UX design as one focus point for collaboration, and Nebulas is also emphasizing UX/UI design, having just published their own Dapp Design Guidelines for developers.
Meanwhile, with the exception of gambling Dapps, blockchain platforms lack a sustainable business model, said Aero. Yet he believes Nebulas has a solution for this. With the Nebulas Incentive Program (NIP), developers need only build high-quality Dapps, with good UX and a valuable use case, and they will be rewarded. More information on NIP is available in the Nebulas NOVA Mauve paper.
Bringing more people to blockchain
At the moment, the majority of blockchain users are “asset users”, who are more seasonal and interested in the technology primarily as an investment, according to Aero. To push blockchain toward mass adoption, more “service users” are needed. This will be achieved as more quality Dapps become available.
Quality services that justify the power of blockchain are necessary to bring in these users. Cheng Li, CTO of Atlas Protocol, in response to a question about blockchain-based voting systems, described the newly-launched SmartVoting product, used in a voting event on the cryptocurrency exchange BitMart, as a validating example for the value of the blockchain.
The goal of the PCTA is to bring 100 million service users — who really use the technology — to the blockchain space. Although founding members of PCTA are based in Asia, the organization’s perspective is global, and quality projects from around the world are encouraged to join.