An opinion piece from Piers Ridyard, CEO RDX Works.
As Web3 adoption gains momentum, the number of alternative Layer 1s, Layer 2s, Layer 3s, side chains, subnets, and application-specific chains have grown in number as well. This may seem bewildering from a user point of view right now, however that consumer confusion is not likely to last. Just as aggregation and UX became the winning formula in the Web2 era, driving the explosion of consumer choice we see today, the same combination is likely to create dominant platforms in Web3.
This winning duo of aggregation and UX has shaped Web2 giants like Airbnb, Uber, YouTube, and Twitch. These companies thrived by aggregating products and services into convenient user destinations and substantially enhanced user experience through a combination of standardization of offering and better interface design. In Web3, while the focus has shifted towards "fat" protocols, which allow users and capital to move more freely between wallets and dApps, it is still likely to be aggregation and unified user experiences that will drive the next wave of adoption.
Good multi-chain communication protocols, like LayerZero, are critical to the success of this next phase of industry growth. Without good cross-chain communication it is impossible to transfer the data across different blockchain networks needed to build multi-chain dApps, or build trustless multi-chain bridges. Without this, aggregation can only be done “within” ecosystems, rather than “across” ecosystems. These cross-ledger communication protocols will become increasingly important as more related dApps and services emerge on the various competing networks.
In the Web3 multi-chain landscape, aggregation is enabled by multi-chain dApps working across many public networks seamlessly. Multi-chain aggregation can then connect together the liquidity, assets, and services from various ecosystems, offering users a unified experience. This means Web3 users can access different liquidity pools or assets through a single "aggregated dApp," without having to choose between public networks.
Importantly, with a multi-chain dApp managing token balances across multiple public networks, a user's actions on one network can correspond to actions on another network. This removes the need for users to understand anything beyond using their "primary" public network.
Complexities such as different token standards, finality times, gas limits, and retry logic will be increasingly hidden from users, allowing them to navigate their multi-chain world through aggregated dApps experiences, all through the interface standards of one network.
With effective cross-ledger communication the main competition among layer 1s/2s/subnets etc will be to become the "primary" public network for users - indeed, that is already happening between the Ethereum Layer 2 networks. However, achieving this also requires significant advancements in the retail user experience of public ledgers and wallets that is more than merely *more* scalability.
However, enhancing the Web3 user experience is a challenge due to the ossification of public networks. Networks like Ethereum have an extremely difficult to change state model because they must maintain backward compatibility with what has already been launched, which makes them more rigid and restricts the potential for user experience innovation at the protocol level.
When Ethereum, the EVM and Solidity were created, the main use cases for public ledgers were not known. As a result the programming language is highly error prone (for programming value), assets are not native features of the ledger, the execution environment is slow and inefficient, transactions are terrifying for users due to blind signing, and transaction usability is still a challenge.
A simple example of this ossification is the endurance of the ERC20 standard and the MetaMask wallet - both of which have been a substantially contributing cause of countless rug-pulls, hacks, exploits and terrible user onboarding experiences.
It is for this reason that smart contract architectures in Solidity on Ethereum (and all networks that have copied it) could become the equivalent of Cobol and Mainframes in banks. Difficult to use, difficult to upgrade, and completely and utterly terrifying to rip out and replace with better technology. It works! Don’t touch it!
This is why Radix is so laser focused on delivering protocol-level usability tools: to make the consumer user experience of crypto accessible to everyday people. These tools include native account abstraction, human-readable transactions, native assets, purpose built programming languages and DeFi-optimized execution. Radix spent the time to build and test these components before the underlying protocol was able to ossify, and with full knowledge of what the purpose of a public network actually is: assets and identity.
With the assumption that good multi-chain bridges and cross-chain dApp communication will continue to emerge, it is my view that the public networks focusing on user-experience-enabling-technology will be best placed to compete for the mass adoption of crypto. These user-focused public networks will both attract new developers and dApps as well as aggregate users, all by providing developers with the best tools for creating mass-market-ready user experiences; liquidity and choice is simply a matter of connecting up the other ecosystems to the networks that provide the best end user experiences.
The cross-ledger aspect of these dApps will allow end-users to stay exclusively on one public network, even if liquidity or the services accessed through the aggregation dApps sit on other public networks. What is more, as users coalesce around their preferred public networks, the number of native dApps and services within that ecosystem will also increase.
In my view, in the world of fat protocols and multi-chain dApps, it will be the public networks that provide the technology to create the best end user experiences that will be the most likely centers of both native users and aggregation for the next wave of Web3.
In the next wave of crypto adoption, users won’t need to choose between chains. They'll find incredible native ecosystems as well as multi-chain dApps offering aggregated services across other ecosystems while providing a unified Web3 experience. This is why Radix is focusing on delivering protocol-level tools to enhance the consumer user experience, drive Web3 adoption and development, and capturing user attention as the next phase of competition begins.
The crypto consumer revolution is coming. To find out more about how Radix is building to make sure that happens, start here.
With special thanks to Sten Tamkivi, Mark Richardson, and Jorinda Hsu for their thoughts and feedback.