Why Web3 Builders Need Fresh Talent to Simplify Self-Custody for the Masses
World Password Day, which is celebrated on the first Thursday of May each year, serves as a reminder of the importance of strong passwords and good password management practices. While passwords play a crucial role in securing our digital lives, password complexity and security management is ultimately the responsibility of the user.
Self-custody is a critical component of the decentralised Web3 ecosystem, but it remains complex and daunting for many people. As a core promise of blockchain-driven Web3 technology self-custody provides users with the ability to retain full sovereignty over any digital asset they own. Self-custody empowers users with the ability to “be their own bank,” but power, as we know, comes with great responsibility.
Getting self-custody right can be difficult. The complex nature of self-custody obligates users to understand often-complicated Web3 concepts such as secure private key and recovery phrase management, and smart contract permissions. As a result, there is a growing need for fresh talent in the space to help simplify self-custody for the masses.
This need is especially relevant on World Password Day, as it emphasises the importance of keeping sensitive information secure. Highlighting the critical nature of password security is a great time to explore the importance of developing accessible self-custody solutions and promoting user education to ensure the security of personal digital assets, as we collectively move towards a Web3-powered future.
Simplifying Self-Custody for Mainstream Web3 Adoption
The Web3 ecosystem is rapidly evolving, and decentralised finance (DeFi) is gaining mainstream acceptance. However, the lack of user-friendly solutions for self-custody remains a significant barrier to entry for many individuals. Self-custody refers to the practice of holding one’s digital assets in a secure manner, where the individual has sole control over their private keys and is responsible for safeguarding their funds.
While self-custody is a fundamental principle of decentralisation, it can be difficult for individuals who are not tech-savvy to navigate. Web3 natives that are familiar with interacting with browser extensions, key management, and the more complicated elements of Web3 technology may find self-custody relatively straightforward, but newer participants in the Web3 ecosystem can be quickly overwhelmed by the volume of security and risk factors to consider.
Moving into the Web3 ecosystem from traditional Web2 platforms is, in many cases, counterintuitive. While Web3 as a totality is technologically robust and is driven by some of the brightest and most innovative minds in tech, user interfaces can quickly intimidate or confuse beginners.
Bridging the gap between Web2 and Web3 means building better, simpler bridges that are easier to navigate. The Web3 ecosystem requires individuals with diverse skill sets, including UX/UI design, product management, and marketing, to help create intuitive and user-friendly self-custody solutions that streamline Web3 unboarding and assist in flattening the sharp Web3 custody learning curve.
The Importance of Self-Custody in the Web3 Ecosystem
In the Web3 ecosystem, self-custody is a fundamental principle that empowers individuals to take control of their digital assets. By holding their own private keys, users can transact on decentralized networks without relying on centralized intermediaries. This is a critical component of the $54 billion (roughly Rs. 4.4 lakh crore) decentralised finance (DeFi) industry, which is built on the principles of trustlessness and transparency.
Self-custody also provides a higher degree of security than traditional custody methods, which often involve third-party custodians. With self-custody, users are in sole control of their private keys, and therefore their funds. This eliminates the risk of hacks, theft, or loss due to a custodian’s negligence or malfeasance.
Self-custody, however, can be a daunting task for many individuals, particularly those who are not as technologically adept as Web3 natives. As a result, there is a need for user-friendly solutions that make self-custody accessible to the masses. This is where fresh talent comes in – the Web3 ecosystem requires individuals with diverse skill sets to help create intuitive and easy-to-use self-custody solutions.
The Challenges of Self-Custody
While self-custody is a critical component of the Web3 ecosystem, creating simplified self-custody solutions that retain the same security and self-sovereignty features as more complex offerings remains a critical obstacle to Web3 adoption. Some of the challenges faced by new Web3 users when interacting with self-custody platforms include:
Security risks: Self-custody requires individuals to safeguard their private keys, which can be lost, stolen, or compromised if not properly protected. This risk can be minimised through proper security practices, such as using hardware wallets and multi-factor authentication, but still require relatively high degree of technical knowledge and diligence.
User experience: Many self-custody solutions are not user-friendly, with complex interfaces and confusing terminology. This can make it difficult for non-technical users to navigate and manage their digital assets, leading to frustration and potential errors. Interacting with smart contract permissions, for example, can lead to users unwittingly allowing setApprovalForAll or similar permissions that can lead to the total loss of all assets in an associated wallet.
Lack of education: There is a significant lack of education around self-custody and the importance of private key management in Web3. Many individuals are unaware of the risks associated with third-party custody solutions or the benefits of self-custody, which can lead to a lack of adoption.
Addressing these challenges is critical to accelerating Web3 self-custody adoption. Engaging with and fostering the development of new talent with expertise in user experience, security, and education can assist in creating intuitive and easy-to-use self-custody solutions that empower individuals to take control of their digital assets.
Learning from the Biggest Disasters in Self-Custody
While self-custody has the potential to revolutionise financial security, it is not without its risks. Over the years, there have been several high-profile incidents where individuals have lost digital assets due to mistakes or vulnerabilities in their self-custody solutions.
One of the most infamous examples is the case of Mt. Gox, an early cryptocurrency exchange that suffered a hack in 2014, resulting in the loss of over 850,000 Bitcoins, valued at over $450 million at the time. Mt. Gox had been using a self-custody solution that relied on a single key, which was stolen by hackers, highlighting the risks of relying on a single point of failure in self-custody.
Another example is the case of James Howells, who accidentally threw away a hard drive containing 7,500 Bitcoins, worth around $280 million (roughly Rs. 2,289 crore) at current prices. Howells had stored Bitcoin on a hard drive that was subsequently disposed of. Realising his mistake only after it was too late, Howells is still petitioning the local council that manages the rubbish dump in which the hard drive potentially ended up for permission to dig it out – to this day.
These incidents highlight the need for good security practices and careful management of private keys when using self-custody solutions. It is important to use multi-signature solutions and to store private keys offline in secure locations. Additionally, it’s critical to have backup plans in case of loss or theft, such as creating and securely storing backups of private keys.
By learning from these events, Web3 builders can develop more secure and robust self-custody solutions that can mitigate the risks associated with digital asset custody. By focusing on user education and security, the Web3 industry can ensure that self-custody becomes a viable and accessible option for users of all levels of technical understanding, enabling greater financial security and empowerment.
The Impact of Web3 Builders on Financial Security
Web3 builders and developers hold the keys to the financial security revolution. By creating user-friendly self-custody solutions that are accessible to everyday users and removing the need for third-party custodians, Web3 builders focused on streamlining self-custody can significantly reduce the risk of hacks, theft, and loss, providing users with greater control and security over their digital assets.
In addition to improving financial security, self-custody can also have broader implications for the financial industry as a whole. By enabling peer-to-peer transactions on decentralised networks, or integrating streamlined P2P features, Web3 builders and platforms can reduce reliance on centralized intermediaries, which can lead to greater transparency, efficiency, and cost savings.
Moreover, self-custody can promote financial inclusion by empowering individuals who do not have access to traditional financial services or who are underserved by the current financial system. This can have significant social and economic benefits, particularly in developing countries where traditional financial services may be limited or non-existent.
Johnny Lyu is the CEO and Founder of Seychelles-based KuCoin crypto exchange.
Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article.
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