As a world of internet users grapples skeptically with the rise of multimillion-dollar JPGs and crypto exchanges funding celebrity-filled Super Bowl spots, a network of blockchain startups are trying to create on-ramps more consumer-friendly in its vision of the crypto internet.
Investors are betting that Ethereum will emerge from its Wild West roads – with high transaction fees and often rampaging scammers – into a network where everyday users can transact securely. Rainbowa crypto startup building a mobile wallet app that lets users interact with decentralized apps on the Ethereum blockchain, wants to be the app users download to tap into that future.
Rainbow looks more like the crypto wallet app a Snap or TikTok would design with rainbow gradient buttons, emoticons galore and overall a far less sterile feel than headline competitor MetaMask, which has announced in November that it had more than 21 million monthly active users from 1 million just over a year earlier. Rainbow’s focus on design doesn’t mean it avoids the complexities of the crypto ecosystem; the app allows users to connect to decentralized apps and invest in tokens through decentralized exchanges like Uniswap.
Rainbow’s goal is to get as much technical know-how out of the process and make things like buying or selling a multi-thousand dollar NFT as easy as tasks like ordering an Uber. .
“We try to be the app on everyone’s home screen.” Rainbow co-founder Mike Demarais told TechCrunch in an interview. “From the beginning, we’ve been super design-focused, and what that really means is that we basically started from scratch and designed the wallet for our needs as builders and users, but really, this turned into a departure from previous wallets. , which have long been this super utility, quasi-developer tool.
The startup told TechCrunch it closed an $18 million Series A round led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s venture capital firm Seven Seven Six. The round ended last October and followed a $1.5 million seed round.
The central challenge for the new wave of user-friendly wallets like Rainbow or Solana-based competitor Phantom, among others, is to create a consumer gateway where users not only feel comfortable buying tokens in-app, but are empowered to delve into the unknown without feeling like they need to call an engineer who can read an EVM smart contract.
“We are at this strange point as an industry, where even today it is not ready for the general public”, said Demarais. “In 2017, all the engineers at tech companies are getting into crypto, but now it’s really like the tech-savvy public is getting into crypto… There’s still a lot of work to be done to making everything super accessible to someone who has never heard of most of these things.
The startup is still at the start of this quest, but is making progress in bringing more users on board. The company recently launched a public beta of the Rainbow app for Android after a long time as an iOS-exclusive experience. The startup has a strong focus on the mobile experience where MetaMask has less of a presence, although they also have desktop integration in the works.
“None of us would be here without MetaMask…we love MetaMask to move the space forward, but basically the name of the game is to be the app on people’s home screens,” said Demarais. “You’re not going to walk into a cafe and pay with MetaMask, this experience feels nightmarish, like…killing me.”