Boris Becker, My Mother and the Mass Adoption of Bitcoin

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Find out how Boris Becker and my mother can show us the way to achieve a mass adoption of Bitcoin

Two weeks ago, the biggest Swiss online retailer started accepting payments in Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, enabling Swiss clients to buy 2.7 million products now with Bitcoins.

Last Friday, the viral campaign #AskCrypto was started, encouraging everyone to ask for a possibility to pay with crypto currencies every time you buy something in a shop. This is just the latest evidence that Bitcoin’s mass adoption is just about to start.

Still, this is no reason to be over optimistic, as there is a long way ahead of us. Let’s learn from Boris Becker and my mother which way we need to go.

Boris Becker destroyed my lonely treasure island

To understand my huff on Boris Becker, you must know that I was a nerd long before being a nerd became cool. I started going online a few years before the mass adoption of the internet started. Going online was not easy at that time. It took me about 2 days until everything was working properly, but it was great. I felt like an explorer in ancient times, discovering a new and quite exclusive world. The internet became my lonely treasure island.

A few years later, my lonely treasure island had been taken over by mass tourism. Everyone was online, and Boris Becker was the one to be blamed for it. Well, not directly Boris Becker, but AOL, the biggest internet provider at that time. In a TV spot from 1999, Boris states that he really has no clue about technology, but now even his wife thinks that it is time to go online. While talking with himself he suddenly shouts: “I am in! (…the internet) That was easy!”

Making it easy makes the difference.

Before AOL, I had to deal with a whole bunch of nerd stuff. Boris Becker just put in the AOL installation CD and started the set-up program. Technical know-how was not needed anymore. Today everybody is online, but I guess less than 5% have a technical understanding of how the internet works.

How my mother taught me my most important lesson in User Experience design

Opposite to Boris Becker, my mother was never “in”. She ignored computers and the internet for another 16 years until 2015, the year she was celebrating her 70th birthday. In this year, bought an iPhone for my father. Soon after my mother discovered WhatsApp, it was no longer my father’s iPhone, but hers. A 70-year-old woman with absolutely no experience in computers turned into an iPhone and WhatsApp power user within a few hours.

Shifting the focus from balances to users

The fact that Apple and WhatsApp are great in user experience design is nothing new and would not have been worth mentioning in this article. What I learned from my mother was more than that. I had been working in the development of mobile banking apps for many years, but I never could convince my mother to use mobile banking. Now this damn WhatsApp caught her. Why? Her answer was short, simple but fundamental: “My friends are more interesting than my account. When I open WhatsApp, I see all my friends and see what they are doing.”

Mobile banking apps and all Bitcoin wallets put the account and your balance in the focus of the user experience. But nobody cares about that. It is the people that we are interacting with, it’s humans that make us engage in something, not figures, representing your virtual wealth. 

What did I learn from that about the mass adoption of Bitcoin?

  1. Make it usable without any know-how about Bitcoin. And yes, no know-how means absolutely no know-how.
  2. Put the users in the focus, not their balance. Human interaction can create passion for something, not balances
  3. Find an investor who would fund a new TV commercial with Boris Becker, but this time promoting the mass adoption of Bitcoin


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