How MetaMask Is Being Used In The Global South
The MetaMask team at ConsenSys is driven to build the most secure wallet and gateway to Web3, in which people have control over their own data, identity, and assets. We now have 5 million monthly active users across the world using MetaMask to swap tokens, borrow, lend, mint and buy NFTs, play games, and much more. We are seeing increasing numbers of users from regions we categorize as the “Global South”; India and Indonesia are both in the top 5 countries in terms of MetaMask mobile adoption, while Vietnam and Nigeria are in the top 10. To better understand why these regions are using cryptocurrency, and how we can build more inclusive software independent of one’s financial background, location, and crypto literacy, the MetaMask team, in partnership with Emerging Impact, created a user research report.
On Wednesday, May 5th at 12:00pm EDT, Emerging Impact and MetaMask will be presenting these findings and potential product upgrades to MetaMask in an interactive webinar, which you can sign up for here. In order for MetaMask to be useful for the next five million users — or hundred million — this report is a starting point for application builders to understand the unique political, technical, and financial factors that compel use of Ethereum today.
A total of 317 individuals in Nigeria, South Africa, Vietnam, India, The Philippines, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile countries were interviewed to understand their motivations for using MetaMask, particular regional pain points, banking behavior, and technical acumen of the product. After three months of interviews, Emerging Impact presented a product recommendation framework for enhancing MetaMask’s product in the Global South.
The strategy surrounding this evaluation was carried out in the following steps: define research criteria, conduct interviews, make connections, provide recommendations.
Interviews were intended to draw a combination of hard data in addition to anecdotal stories from research subjects. This approach provided a colorful portrayal of users in each region while maintaining a standard through-line across the globe.
The following questions were asked during interviews:
- Describe what you do for a living. Do you live in a rural or urban community?
- Describe your network connection quality. What is your primary device for accessing the web?
- How did you first come about using MetaMask? What is your primary device for accessing the web?
- What digital assets did you engage with as an early user? How do you typically fund your wallets or exchange accounts?
- Have you ever introduced MetaMask to a friend? Do you and members of your community use digital assets with each other?
- What are your preferred wallets and exchanges? Are there any DApps that you interact with through MetaMask?
- Do you feel that your assets are secure? Where do you find information that you trust?
- If you could have any tools in the crypto space, what would you need it to do for you?
32% of respondents in the study used or owned crypto. Nigerian respondents often heard about MetaMask from their friends, and find MetaMask easy to use for beginners. Most respondents use MetaMask to invest or hold crypto, and tend to discuss crypto in Telegram Groups and on Twitter. The primary motivation for most users was to grow their wealth. A number of people shared stories about using crypto gains to offset financial losses incurred from the Coronavirus Pandemic, or as a way to achieve specific goals, like paying for university tuition or buying a property. Nigerian respondents had common pain points pertaining to high/unpredictable gas fees and cellular network performance.
“I need digital money in order to avoid being harassed by the police. They [police] watch us at ATMs — they arrest people without cause.”User from Nigeria
17% of internet users in the Philippines own some form of crypto. Interestingly enough, a slightly larger 23% of Filipino adults have bank accounts. Nearly half of all Filipinos have savings, but many keep those savings at home in cash.
Fillipino respondents generally learned about MetaMask via airdrops. Furthermore, the respondents are primarily utilizing MetaMask to invest and grow a portfolio. The biggest pain points for Filipinos has to do with local businesses not being able to accept crypto transactions. Additionally, respondents are concerned about crypto scams, and want MetaMask to provide more information around bad actors.
A year ago a local investment company that used to give 2-3x interest/month was uncovered as a scam. That’s when I learned about crypto, and started looking into it for investments. I learned that with crypto, I can truly hold my money, and take the profits instead of someone else taking my profits. You have freedom.”User from The Philippines
Approximately 7 – 10% of South Americans own crypto. Unlike The Philippines and Nigeria, merchants have adopted crypto at a far faster rate. More than 100 merchants in Buenos Aires and the surrounding area accept cryptocurrency. Additionally, Brazil is the fifth country in the world in terms of owners of cryptocurrency.
Users in South America do prefer MetaMask over other wallets because of its simplicity and safety. Users typically onboard from exchanges and send their ETH into their MetaMask wallets. Interestingly, most users interviewed had no friends that also use crypto. Finally, Telegram and Twitter are where users gather information about crypto. MetaMask users in South America express widespread distrust in the government, looking to crypto as a long-term alternative to wealth building. Increases in the number of checking and savings accounts has far outpaced the increase in access to commercial credit. Consumers are using basic banking products, but are not necessarily being marketed more advanced financial instruments like investment or business lending services.
The largest pain points for South American respondents involve fees and network performance, which is similar to the other regions examined.
It would be very useful if the MetaMask mobile app could push me alerts and notifications on behalf of Dapps. I want to be alerted when certain tokens I’m watching shift in price.User from Brazil
Biggest Trends from Cross Region Analysis
People in every region consistently expressed high levels of satisfaction with MetaMask’s default security features as a self-hosted wallet since it enables users to control their own assets. The privacy and trust enabled by MetaMask directly relates to many of the social and political situations respondents were experiencing when the interviews were conducted. For example, in Nigeria, a decentralized social movement of mass protests against police brutality was underway, with many young people starting to use cryptocurrency and private messaging applications. In South America, some users expressed concern with how their personal data was being used or shared with financial service providers and tech companies.
Another major trend is that interviewees primarily use cryptocurrency as an investment rather than as a medium of exchange. The majority of users do not consider themselves wealthy, and many of them have never held assets before cryptocurrency.
One of the largest pain points across all regions is the inconsistent on/off ramp access. In order to fund a MetaMask wallet, nearly all users are forced to fund an external wallet and send those funds to their MetaMask wallet manually before engaging with various financial applications on Ethereum. Finally, another significant pain point is the gas fees associated with using different dapps, especially their unpredictability and high cost.
Over the coming months, recommendations from Emerging Impact’s study will help inform the product roadmap of MetaMask. MetaMask will attempt to double down on approachability and education, potentially creating a rich in-app experience for newcomers that focuses on establishing crypto-literacy and confidence. We want MetaMask to be trustworthy and useful for people no matter their language, location, weath, or access to traditional financial infrastructure.
We’ll continue to better support custom network support, and become a multi-chain wallet.
Because of the lacking banking and internet infrastructure in these regions, rolling out native support for local onramps and introducing support around offline performance would be crucial improvements. Also because many users primarily used MetaMask on mobile devices, in some cases with inconsistent internet access, the team might investigate how to make a lighter client, which would be less data intensive.