The complexity of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will require a simple interface if they are to become a realistic prospect for mass-consumption. Enter chatbots, a logical and clear solution to gloss over the complexity of digital currencies, blockchain and future transactional services.
Banking has become a lot simpler in recent years, led by the need to speed up transactions. In most cases, you can pay for physical goods by tapping your phone or bank card on the till. For digital purchases, at worst you might need your three-digit security code, or thumbprint to trigger a transaction.
So, it is hard not to laugh at all the proponents of cryptocurrency as a “simple” solution to the world’s banking and shopping needs. People need a trading account to buy it, a digital wallet to hold it in, and perhaps an exchange account to get at it in a traditional currency. And if you want to mine it, you apparently need a factory full of high-end graphics cards to do the processing, and the energy supply of a small country to drive them – all the while increasing the effects of global warming.
If you want to actually shop using your Bitcoin, Ripple or Electroneum, only a tiny fraction of vendors accept it, despite the pummeling of hype and press releases. There’s also a lot of explaining to do if typical consumers are going to understand crypto, their rights and how it all works. That’s as it becomes a part of the games industry, is dealt with by regulators and even the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow try to understand it.
Chat to Your Crypto Account, Bank and Stores
All of which means that managing or using cryptocurrency is far from simple. At which point, providers must start to look at simpler ways to link these services together and provide a joined-up way of handling your crypto-cash.
Between all of these complications, a chatbot would act a great way to limit the confusion and multiple services that are needed to manage a crypto wallet. You might think of bots as simple customer service agents now, but within a rapidly evolving generation or two, they will be commonly used to interact with multiple services, smart devices or your accounts. Of which, bitcoin or blockchain services would be just another “thing” to chat to and make deals with.
We already see machine-to-machine (M2M) transactions taking place in business and the chatbot could act as your agent or avatar in all types of trades, using your choice of cryptocurrency to buy groceries, book a flight or invest in Yen.
The bot can, at a plain text level, ask what you want to do, transfer currency, swap between them, use them for trading, provide reminders as values rise and fall and so on. Smart bots would know the laws on restrictions and laws, so can tell users what they can or can’t do in certain situations. It could also find the best prices for trades and alert users when a currency takes that regular crypto rollercoaster ride.
That would be a lot easier than leaving it all up to the user to find out about multiple services and competing providers. It is a useful way to get consumers started, and as banks, stores and other outlets either start using their own cryptocurrencies or leverage existing ones, the story will get more complex.
These bots will act as intermediaries between services to save users having to trigger multiple touch IDs, remember long passwords, massive account numbers and so on. The bots could also act as a defensive layer against crypto-theft, alerting users to attempts to move their money.
As part of an app or website, these bots could help make the future of more accessible to users, be they gig economy workers being paid in crypto, reward schemes using a digital currency to make it resonate better with digital-generation users and so on.
In partnership with cryptocurrency comes blockchain, the ledgers that secure and provide detail about crypto transactions. These could be made more accessible through a chatbot, one that can provide the key details without listing the long strings of tech details that make up each transaction.
As blockchain becomes a part of voting, digital identity and other highly sensitive areas around the world, bots could help explain them to the elderly and less tech-aware users that governments will foist the technology on.
Whatever you think of blockchain or bitcoin currently, or your experiences of chatbots. Within a few years, everyone’s understanding could be greatly bolstered by the use of a smart, connected bot that can take out the stress and complexity of them and helping people do what they want to do without the insane complexity that most services expect people to endure.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.