What problem is eCashChat solving?

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Yours.org, blockchain.poker, lazyfox.io, honest.cash, read.cash, tipbitcoin.cash, satoshidice.com, purse.io, local.bitcoin.com, noise.cash, craft.cash, cointext.io, satoshiwall.cash, nakamotogame.com, cashaccount.info, and memo.cash, and those are just the ones I remember.

What are all these? They are, or were, various applications that were at one time or another, a part of the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem. I tried them all, because at the time I was obsessed with finding the holy grail of crypto, aka crypto’s killer app.

Many say the killer app of crypto is money, and while I don’t disagree, I see that as more of a killer use case, not a killer app. To me a killer app is what’s needed to unlock crypto’s killer use case by actually getting people to use eCash as money.

Back in February I posted the above clip from Laura Shin’s interview of Chris Dixon, who said:

“I was there for the early iPhone application wave, and what happened is you had like a 13-year period of people trying to create smartphones. The iPhone came out in 2007, and smartphone innovation in Silicon Valley probably began 15 years before the iPhone, like General Magic, there were a bunch of people trying to create smartphones in the 2000s. And then iPhone came out. It was finally like, nailed the infrastructure, nailed the phone, and then there was like a year of like flashlight apps, and then about a year later you started to see entrepreneurs entering. And I was actually an active investor at that point. And if you look at the data, like it was between 2009 and 11 like almost all the top apps were started, meaning Uber, Snap, Instagram they were all kind of that range. And so at some point you hit this kind of like sweet spot in any kind of computing evolution, and I don’t think we’re there yet, we have not had our iPhone moment (I don’t believe) in crypto, but I do think that a lot of signs point to it being in the near future, I hope.”

– Chris Dixon, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz

I also believe that crypto is on the verge of having its iPhone moment, and the primary reason is because that much like the iPhone, eCash is finally nailing the infrastructure, and nailing the protocol, making it easier for developers to build applications on the eCash network.

Which brings us to the new eCash application that just launched last week: eCashChat.com.

What is eCashChat.com? According to their X account, it’s “an on-chain messaging platform on the eCash blockchain. It filters for specific messaging transactions for a seamless social experience.”

Now I know what some of you might be thinking. Hasn’t this already been tried before with projects like Nostr on BTC, or memo.cash on BCH, and didn’t both, and all other similar attempts, fail to get any significant traction?

If eCashChat was just another attempt at an on-chain social network, I probably wouldn’t be too excited, either. I don’t think the world needs what would amount to just a nicer looking version of memo.cash. And while I don’t think that’s what eCashChat will end up being, for now let’s ignore what I think it might become, and instead focus on the more immediate benefits I hope it can bring to the eCash ecosystem.

I recently watched the above presentation given by Michael Seibel, co-founder of Twitch, where he shares some lessons about “how successful startups think about building something people want.”

At the beginning of his talk, he explains how founders most often just want to tell him what their idea is, or what their product does, without understanding why that product is needed in the world, or what problem the product solves.

In the case of eCashChat, many people might think it’s just an on-chain version of Twitter, and the problem it’s supposed to be solving is censorship. And while that may indeed be one of the problems eCashChat solves in the future, that’s not the problem I think it can help solve today.

In my mind, one of the biggest problems facing the eCash project today is its lack of useful applications. If we want people to use eCash as money and unlock its full value proposition, we need places where it can be used as money. Some believe the best way to do this is by getting merchants to accept XEC. And while I agree that it would be great if XEC were accepted everywhere, I see that more as the end goal, and less the means of achieving the end goal. To put it another way, why would a business go to the trouble of accepting XEC if none of their customers use XEC? The answer is it wouldn’t, because there is no incentive for the business to do so.

This is why I believe the road to mass adoption will only be possible through the creation of a killer app. An app that has the power to onboard new users to eCash rather than one that only leverages those already using it.

Take for example the early Bitcoin application Silk Road. Many thought that was the killer app of Bitcoin. It was certainly one of the earliest demonstrations of how Bitcoin could solve people’s problems, and onboarded tens of thousands of new users in the process.

Unfortunately, Silk Road was shut down before it could lead to mass adoption, but what it did achieve was to demonstrate what was possible, and that Bitcoin worked.

I believe what eCash needs is our own killer app that demonstrates eCash works, and the more developers we have building on eCash, the better our chances of it happening. As of right now, the eCash community is in short supply of application developers. But I am hopeful that the creation of eCashChat can help demonstrate the eCash project’s strong app development infrastructure to the wider crypto community.

The developer behind eCashChat, Ethan Quintera, had this to say when I asked him what problem eCashChat is solving:

“eCashChat can demonstrate to new app devs that you don’t necessarily need to deal with all the complications of authentication, seed management, transaction building, etc., and you can simply leverage Cashtab Extension to do the heavy lifting and focus instead on your core app functions. It can foster a rapid prototyping development culture and speed up product iterations that aligns with the ABC development philosophy. eCashChat will also showcase the powerful and efficient nature of the Chronik indexer by enabling what would have previously been inefficient with other indexers.”

– Ethan Quintera, creator of eCashChat

But don’t think the only reason I’m excited about this project is because it can be a showcase for other developers. The truth is, I think eCashChat has the potential to be the killer app I’ve been searching for ever since I first discovered Bitcoin. Though it’s just an MVP at this point, if they keep building, and iterating, I can see how it might one day solve a lot more problems besides the shortage of eCash app developers.

Something else Seibel says during his presentation is, “I think at some point pretty early on you have to figure out what are we doing, and what do we expect the result to be?”

So what do I expect the result of eCashChat to be? I will try my best to answer that, but it’ll have to wait until my next article, POW#212. To be continued…