There’s been a lot of negative press about Cardano, from the programming language to slow progress dependent on peer reviews to questionable projects and alliances.
Looking firstly at blockchain utility, the average person might not understand what a blockchain is or care about it. This is similar to the amount of thought one might give to how their credit card transaction is being processed. This isn’t necessarily good or bad, just different. People just want something that works.
What if Cardano is Right, But No One Cares?
Setting aside any doubts, let’s consider the possibility that Cardano has the best blockchain technology and that it will be widely accepted by the public.
Despite the fact that Cardano might be the most decentralized, technologically advanced option available, it is not guaranteed to become the world standard due to practicality.
It’s not unusual for a worse technology to win over a better one for certain reasons. Think VHS over Betamax or how people still prefer the standard QWERTY over the more ergonomic DVORAK keyboard. In short, better doesn’t always win
Cardano May Be Better, But Does it Matter?
Cardano may have a superior product, but that won’t ensure its success in the mass adoption battle. A lack of marketing (other than Hoskinson on YouTube) and competition from Ethereum or new or existing projects could create problems for Cardano that it won’t be able to bounce back from-especially given its slow peer-reviewed approach.
Cardano isn’t very nimble in a market that prizes speed along with innovation.
Ultimately, a light bulb is a technology that remains true no matter who uses it. It doesn’t matter if it’s Westinghouse, General Electric, or someone else who profits from the technology, as long as it is adopted. The same rings true for blockchains. People will use what is cheap, fast, and works for them without giving a thought to which blockchain they’re on.
The Scientific Method
Cardano emphasizes the importance of the scientific method, yet its investors may not reap rewards from the project’s contributions to the scientific community. Indeed, Cardano could be surpassed by another crypto project that takes advantage of Cardano’s insights and does a better job at promotion and finding the right industry partners.
A Flawed Fixation on Africa?
While the Cardano crowd (cult?) won’t agree, Africa is an unlikely location for the project to succeed.
Of course, there are reasons why choosing Africa makes sense and Cardano should be applauded for their vision from a humanitarian perspective. The continent is filled with a vast amount of young people and open to radical, new ideas for progress and blockchain is cool.
As the average consumer does not usually have firm brand loyalties, it is possible for new business to seize an early advantage and build a competitive edge based on ever-growing popularity.
Nearly 57% of the African population is not serviced by traditional banking, and they are eager to find alternative solutions. But without massive adoption and payment infrastructure in place, what can a pocketful of ADA actually be used for?
Plenty of Potential and Problems
In a nutshell, the African continent is an untapped market with plenty of potential. Most individuals don’t have a bank account, so the choices they make now will heavily influence their future in terms of how they use technology to improve their lives.
Africa collectively is facing many difficulties, one of which is the low internet access rate of only 24%. These greater issues need to be resolved before introducing blockchain technology, no matter if they are interested or not. It’s like spending money on a big trailer for your sailboat when you don’t have the money to buy the boat.
World Mobile, is a startup bent on setting up telecommunication networks in Africa where traditional telecom companies had little success. Although World Mobile could be successful, it would take quite some time to do so.
According to their marketing, it will take them nearly 10 years to reach their goal of creating “the world’s largest mobile network” with affordable and high-quality connections across Africa and beyond by 2030.
Taking into consideration potential unforeseen (and probable) legal and technical delays, a large-scale program such as this may be stalled numerous times. Add in the complexities of physical infrastructure and it is not likely to be completed until 2030 or later.
Additionally, the reality is that many Africans lack the financial means to acquire a basic smartphone with internet capabilities. GSMA, a mobile network industry group, found that these devices cost 120% of what the lowest 20% earn each month in Sub-Saharan Africa. Unless Cardano plans on building an affordable web phone this is going to be a problem.
Government First, Then the People
What is Cardano’s plan for the next 10 to 15 years while most of its target customers are unable to use its services? Is it just going to wait? The Cardano community has been nothing if not patient but one may assume they’ll start getting anxious. Cardano is currently trading 82% below what it was just a year ago. “Just wait” has been the mantra but that only goes so far in a culture used to moving fast and breaking things.
While nearly 76% of African people are cut off from the internet and hence unable to join the crypto industry, Cardano already has associations with a number of governments, which do have access to the web.
Mass adoption is more likely to come from working with governments and corporations rather than from citizens gambling on DeFi or NFTs, as governments already have a large user base-their citizens. From this perspective, it makes sense for Cardano to work with governments first as central governments will be able to roll out blockchain services to citizens more easily.
When you examine Cardano’s partnerships, they don’t seem particularly impressive. Most of the government partnerships it cites are inactive or still in progress and could easily vanish if something goes wrong with the project. The African continent is historically unstable and characterized by some governments that are less than trustworthy.
Current Cardano Projects in Africa
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education, working with Cardano, is attempting to give 5 million students and 750,000 teachers decentralized identity records and blockchain-based achievement certifications. Unfortunately, due to a still-simmering civil war and state of emergency declared in the nation, this goal may be unlikely to be achieved any time soon.
World Mobile has partnered with Cardano to provide millions with “affordable internet”, the corporate alliances are mostly symbolic right now. It’s a demonstration of intent, not an indication of Cardano’s bigger aspirations. But to be fair, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The China Problem
If Cardano did manage to build a financial and data infrastructure in Africa, they would be up against a strong opponent – China.
China has a heavy presence in Africa and is utilizing its economic power to gain influence over the different African nations. If Cardano wants to have a chance of succeeding, it will have to be cautious not to oppose China’s interests or suffer the consequences.
Africa is certainly a fascinating option, but it shouldn’t be a primary focus. To succeed in Africa, large amounts of resources and time would need to be allocated. This takes away from Cardano’s development and adoption in other areas.
Cardano’s fixation on Africa obscures what could be easier, more pragmatic wins, resulting in a wider adoption that may come too late or perhaps never, as another, faster, cheaper, and more useful blockchain takes the crown.
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