Crypto has officially penetrated the mainstream. Times Square billboards, Superbowl ads, F1 sponsorships -- crypto is everywhere. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone nowadays who hasn't at least heard of Bitcoin. But is crypto actually living up to its many promises that attracted all this attention and hype?

Crypto declares to be a hedge against inflation, a safe haven for people to protect their savings during economic turmoil. Yet, now that the world is facing a cost-of-living crisis, with many countries experiencing their highest inflation rates in decades and people struggling to afford basic needs, the crypto market has also crashed.


Many explanations are being attributed to the crash: the Terra Luna scandal, NFT scams, it was all just an overbought bubble. These all hold some truth, but ultimately the issue is people have no actual use for crypto. They bought in for speculative reasons with a bit of disposable income. The general public perceives crypto as a "get rich quick scheme." To be honest, crypto reached the mainstream not as an alternative to the banks or a tool for financial inclusion but rather as memecoins and pixel art NFT's that promise to make you rich overnight.

The idea was to create a fully decentralized economy that was transparent, secure, and inclusive. It was meant to uplift the unbanked and the underbanked. But the core fundamentals have been mostly overlooked over the last few years. The crypto ecosystem has strayed from its key goals, with some individuals and entities cashing in on the lack of general awareness.

Blockchain-based solutions, especially Decentralized Finance (DeFi), are yet to impact the lives of billions of people. For DeFi to truly make an impact, it must be convenient for everyday use. Accordingly, to move forward, we must first take a step back and reflect on how we got to this point before finding a path back to Bitcoin's original goal of making a real impact on the daily lives of billions of people.

What are we meant to be creating?

The internet gave everyone free, decentralized access to information. Through innovations like email and online marketplaces, we could enjoy unrestricted access to communication, shopping, and much more. However, the one missing thing was the ability to grant open access and management of value. Traditional financial tools available on the web have remained highly exclusive, given they pre-dated the online world.

An open, inclusive, and permissionless financial system — this is crypto's gift to the world. I lived through the Argentinian Corralito in the early 2000s, where the banks essentially confiscated the people's savings as part of the economic measures to stabilize the devaluation of the national currency. I've seen first-hand how people in poverty-stricken communities find themselves excluded from the benefits of the financial system, leaving them perpetually stuck in poverty.

My first experience with crypto was through a friend who lived in Silicon Valley in 2012. I was living in Argentina at the time under strict capital controls, and it was almost impossible to send money in and out. My friend sent me some Bitcoin; I received it and returned it to him in under an hour, all for the cost of less than a penny.

Unfortunately, the crypto landscape, especially after the emergence of DeFi, has transitioned into a tech-filled ecosystem with no regard for user experience. If the product we are building isn't easy and intuitive enough for the end-users, it impacts user adoption. And without user adoption, that too at a global scale, DeFi or any other decentralized initiative can't achieve the goal of an intermediary-free global financial system.

"Everyday DeFi" is the dream that the present iteration of the internet couldn't quite achieve. It is what will bring financial freedom to any human being regardless of their financial situation. Crypto has already entered the mainstream consciousness. Now is the time to start making a real difference. Now is the time for everyday DeFi.

Decentralized applications that integrate simple and intuitive UI, user safeguards against high-risk speculative investments, and easy-to-integrate decentralized financial protocols — this is everyday DeFi. Everyday DeFi is what genuine mainstream crypto adoption will look like — users interacting and benefiting from decentralized finance without even realizing they're using it.

Legacy chains like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and several others did the groundwork for a decentralized financial system. Yet, now is the time for the crypto community to work together to build upon this foundation, not digress from it. The community must band together to bring back decentralization, inclusiveness, and transparency - the true ethos of the internet (and the products and services built upon it) - in a way that shifts people's perception of finance and financial services while uplifting them at the same time.

We need to work towards lowering entry barriers and the learning curve, empowering more users to explore the possibilities of the technology. We need financial solutions that benefit the broader population, not just the people building them. We are meant to create the foundation of a financial system where everything is transparent, and there is no room for manipulation; an ecosystem where each individual gains equal access to financial primitives without any centralized control or intermediary.

It is time we move away from the over-hyped history of crypto being a shortcut to becoming an overnight millionaire and instead towards the purposeful future of "everyday DeFi."

(Diego Gutierrez-Zaldivar is the Co-Founder and CEO of IOVLabs)

Illustration shows representation of cryptocurrency Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dash plunging into water