Buy, swap, and send crypto tokens.
Protocol mobile apps are the next step to take crypto mainstream. Even if most people end up interacting with protocols through third-party apps in the long term, first-party ones will be an important step in the journey; they are incredibly narrow in terms of brand and product, which makes them great for onboarding and educating users.
I recently dove into the details of why it makes sense for protocols to invest in building them, but I want to take it a step further by exploring how these apps will work and look. I decided to do this with Uniswap as an example, but these general ideas can and will be applied to other protocols like Compound, Aave, PoolTogether, Maker, Curve, and more.
An app for the rest of us
One approach for the Uniswap app would be to port the functionality of the current web app to a mobile platform, structuring it as a dapp that prompts users to connect with an external wallet upon download. This alone would be a win for users and protocols, and may very well be where protocol apps end up. There is however an even more exciting vision I wanted to explore: the Uniswap app as a flagship experience to buy, swap, and send crypto tokens, in a way that onboards people to crypto like never before.
To accomplish this, there are two product decisions I see as necessary:
- The app must be self-sufficient, which means having built-in ramps and basic wallet functionality to simplify the experience and make the protocol accessible to as many people as possible.
- The app must be hyper-focused around the mass-appeal use case, in Uniswap's case, tokens. There is no need for feature parity with the web app, which can remain the most powerful way to interact with Uniswap. While it's important to eventually include governance and potentially liquidity pools in the mobile app, the web app can continue to serve these needs initially. Other features like advanced analytics might never make sense in the mobile app.
You can read my thoughts on what this means for third-party apps, and why need mobile apps in the first place here.
Bringing the app to life
With the ultimate goal of creating a great app to buy, swap, and send crypto tokens under these two guiding principles, I set out to explore what this version of a Uniswap app would look like. This was the result:
Built-in wallet and seamless onboarding
The app has built-in wallet functionality, which means users don't have to hop back and forward between apps to initiate and confirm actions. Thanks to the portability of crypto, users have the option of importing a pre-existing account, or creating a new one which they can later add to a few (definitely not all) protocol apps or a main third-party wallet. For many, this will be their first crypto wallet.
A home for your tokens
The home tab provides a high level summary of your portfolio, a breakdown of the tokens you hold with their current dollar value plus recent performance, and easily accessible shortcuts let you perform the three core actions: buy, swap, or send tokens.
Explore and research tokens
The explore tab helps you discover discover tokens through Top Charts, keep a close eye on your favorites, and search for any token. You can visit a token's page to learn more about it, look into their key stats, and acquire it by paying or trading for it.
Look back in time
The activity tab provides a basic record of your past transactions and operations.
Push and local notifications allow you to set price alerts to respond to sudden market changes in the tokens you hold and follow, as well as get notified about relevant protocol news such as major votes and upgrades.
You can buy any token traded on Uniswap paying with a card, bank account, or ApplePay. Even if the on-ramp doesn't natively support the token you're looking to buy, the app will behind the scenes buy a supported one, and use a router contract to deliver your desired token.
This will require basic compliance checks (KYC) and is opt-in for users that need it, particularly those new to crypto. This is not something you'll set up in every protocol app; third-party apps are better for people looking to use multiple protocols anyway.
Manage your positions
Track the performance of your token positions over time, and manage them with quick actions for buying more tokens, swapping them, or sending to other crypto addresses.
Swap and send tokens
Swap any tokens you hold through Uniswap, or send (and receive) to other crypto addresses. Set custom settings like slippage tolerance, deadline, speed, and more.
Leverage your phone's capabilities
Home-screen widgets help you track your portfolio and specific tokens at a glance, and TouchID helps you keep your tokens and keys safe in a convenient way.
The screens above might just a concept, but real versions of protocol apps based on these ideas are not a matter of if, but when. Web apps and third-party wallets will always be better for mature users, but protocols have a unique opportunity to onboard millions of people to crypto by building friendly, personal, and focused mobile apps that stand on their own.
You can read more about the argument for protocol mobile apps here.