Cryptocurrency has real potential to rival fiat currency as a way to pay for goods and services. In order for that to happen, it needs to meet or exceed the current user experience. Otherwise, what incentive does anyone have to adopt it? If using crypto means paying extra fees, dealing with constantly shifting values, or enduring interminable waits at the cash register, then it will never get off the ground.

Transaction times with crypto payments have to be fast because that’s what we’re used to with credit cards. Networks like Visa can process up to 45,000 transactions per second. Bitcoin, by comparison, can process only seven per second. In practical terms, that means that it can take up to 41 hours to process bitcoin transactions. We’re used to our credit card transactions being processed within several seconds; any longer than that, and we get seriously annoyed. The thought of waiting more than five minutes at a point of sale is laughable.

Obviously, bitcoin and its fan club are not ready for widespread use. How could the networks possibly handle an influx of transactions like we see on shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when 608,000 shoppers transact online each hour?

Though coins like Nano and Dash actually do have much higher processing capabilities than bitcoin, they lack the market share to make an impact. In addition, it’s still cumbersome and inconvenient for merchants to accept them.

Part of the problem is that until cryptocurrency can be used to purchase goods and services, consumers will see no reason to add crypto to their digital wallets. And until transaction times speed up, merchants will see no reason to accept crypto as tender. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation, with few easy answers in sight.

If we are to break the cycle and set a course for widespread adoption of cryptocurrency, it will be because a network becomes available that can process enough transactions at a time, facilitate currency exchanges, and stabilize exchange rates. Once that becomes available, look for coins on the market that meet all of these criteria.