Cryptocurrency in 2021: still dysfunctional nonsense, unusable by normal humans

I talk a lot here about the complex financial shenanigans that are common in the cryptocurrency world. And that’s usually the story — the people and the flows of cash, not the technology itself.

But crypto is dumb and bad in multiple ways at the same time. One important thing that crypto fails at is basic usability for its supposed purposes. The technology is rubbish.

Amongst all the higher-level reasons crypto is rubbish, it’s important to remember the more basic ones: in 2021, all of this is still ridiculous garbage that doesn’t work properly, and is near-unusable by normal humans.


Cat money box: Amazon US, Amazon UK


I spoke to someone today who tried buying an NFT as a gag gift … and had a Crypto Experience.

Back in the 2010s, when normal people foolishly thought that bitcoiners were talking about a currency, and tried to use Bitcoin like it was a currency, a lot of them had the Bitcoin Experience. Everything is complicated, and basic functionality you’d expect of a payment system just isn’t there. Irreversibility screws up everything — all frauds, thefts and fat-finger errors are final, and customer service is literally impossible by design.

But don’t worry! Coiners will be quick to assure the user that all problems are their fault.

The normal person bought some ether (the currency of the Ethereum blockchain), they put it into Metamask (the most popular Ethereum wallet), and then followed a guide on how to buy an NFT.

The Ethereum blockchain has been clogged to unusability since 2017, so you have to guess a high enough transaction fee to get your transaction through today. This NFT buyer’s transaction fee was low enough that the transaction took three days to go through — but at least it did eventually go through, and they secured ownership of their NFT.

The NFT and the ether they had left over from this exercise are sitting there in their Metamask. Moving the ether out would be another expensive transaction — today’s average fee is $20.71, it was $60 a couple of days ago [YCharts, archive] — so they’re just going to give the recipient the Metamask wallet, private keys and all. With some ether that’s too small a quantity to move out of the wallet.

If a normal person trying to use Ethereum guesses wrong about today’s transaction fee, the transaction fails and their fee literally goes up in smoke. If your Ethereum transaction fails, then the ETH or the NFT doesn’t move — but you still lose the fee. Because it’s a computation that failed.

So try again! But guess a bit higher or something.

Or use an actual-money payment system instead of this dysfunctional trash.

You know how Beeple’s $69 million JPEG was bought with ether? The ether wasn’t sent over the Ethereum blockchain — Christie’s demanded direct transfer of the ether from one account on an exchange to another account on the same exchange. The blockchain works so much better when you don’t use it.

The blockchain is the future of finance! Because it sure as heck isn’t the present.

“Time will tell!” the pumpers say. But time’s spent ten years telling us this is dysfunctional bollocks on a basic technical level — in all the same ways it’s been dysfunctional bollocks since 2011, with some new dysfunctional bollocks since the popular blockchains clogged.

Time has told. Repeatedly. But if coiners listened, they wouldn’t be coiners.

When I tweeted about this, I got Ethereum defenders in my mentions going “lol you should use [their favourite weird software] instead” and blaming the user — because crypto cannot fail, it can only be failed.

And I say to them: try using an actual-money payment system some time — you’ve forgotten what stuff working feels like.


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7 Comments on “Cryptocurrency in 2021: still dysfunctional nonsense, unusable by normal humans”

  1. > If a normal person trying to use Ethereum guesses wrong about today’s transaction fee, the transaction fails and their fee literally goes up in smoke.

    If your transaction isn’t included in a block because you set the gas price too low, it’s like you never sent it at all, so the fee is still yours. You’re talking about situation where a failed transaction is included in a block, but finished with an error (because the “smart contract” has a bug, or you messed up its input, or you set the gas *limit* too low and there were too many “smart” operations with large gas cost). Gas limit is different from gas price, and the limit you should set depends only on “smart contract”, the data you send in your transaction (and potentially also the state of the contract), so theoretically it’s independent of gas price and you should be able to know what limit is needed for the transaction to work correctly. Not that this crap Ethereum system makes it easy to do, though, so this kind of error is very probable.

    1. yeah, I’m speaking of a computation failing. This seems to be a common case with NFT purchases if you guess too low a fee, or foolishly take Metamask’s word for it – lots of stories of gas going up in smoke.

  2. On Reddit, I made a post stating the obvious facts wrong with the system and I ended with -200 karma:)))

    The owners tell everyone go buy so I can sell and buy my lambo, the next buyers who did that and now lost their money are holding and telling everyone else go buy so we can sell and buy our lambos… the cycles goes on and on. Is this a Ponzi scheme?

    I actually tried to buy some Crypto and I got hit with so many walls that I gave up. If I didn’t I would have made about £5 mill. Also back in the day I could have mined BTC and made millions but thought it was a waste of my electricity. Truth be, if I had any bitcoins, I would have sold them the moment they were worth anything. Bills, mortgage etc… sure as hell would have not thought, wait 10 years, live in a cardboard box in the meantime as one day you will be a billionaire:)

    There are so many stories about crypto millionaires, funny enough all the ones I read are from the US. Where are the people that purchased and lost their savings when the market crashed, just like the people that purchased BTC at $60k, or other coins and saw their savings get cut by %50 in less than a week.

    I just saw a YouTube video of a BTC billionaire in India, guy was shown, but he is billionaire in holding as he hasn’t sold any, but uses BTC to buy crap, he did an NFT for $70mill. I am wondering if all criminal organisations in India, now seeing that video made him a target. I hope he can use all them billions to hire a beefy security team or move to a different country.

  3. Vignesh Sundaresan is the guy in India that purchased the $69 mill jpg to display it in a computer game. Apparently he is only a billionaire on paper as he hasn’t liquidated his BTC holdings.

    There is a video of him on YouTube, still leaving in a 1bd apartment. Could be BS too.

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