Some Fortune Crypto pricing data is provided by Binance.

Solana founder Anatoly Yakovenko on ‘the biggest bottleneck in crypto’

Solana founder Anatoly Yakovenko at the Solana Miami Hacker House event on April 7, 2022 in Miami, Florida.
To Solana Founder Anatoly Yakovenko, self custody is “the biggest bottleneck in crypto.”
Alfonso Duran for Fortune

Anatoly Yakovenko, the founder of Solana, sees a long road ahead when it comes to potential mainstream adoption of crypto.

“I honestly think it’s gonna be kind of slow because of this mental barrier to self custody,” Yakovenko tells Fortune, referring to the full possession of crypto assets and private keys for ownership. “We don’t know what those breakout applications are going to be that makes that shift. But something needs to give.”

Self custody, Yakovenko said, is “the biggest bottleneck in crypto.”

Adoption “really happens” when a person “figures out how to generate a key and store it securely, and then sign transactions. That’s a really slow process,” Yakovenko added. “People need to get it, and then the space grows. And it’s accelerating, but it’s still slow.”

Other issues, including security risks, also remain as hurdles to widespread adoption.

Solana is known as an alternative to Ethereum with its smart contracts, or collections of code that execute a set of instructions on-chain, that underpin NFTs and various applications in the DeFi realm. However, Solana has seen multiple outages and significant downtime, and some Solana-focused platforms have experienced hacks or other exploits. Though the latter isn’t necessarily Solana’s fault, it does weigh on users’ minds. (And most other networks have dealt with similar issues—some more than others.)

“When people ignore the best practices—when the best practices get easier, and then people ignore them—it’ll be pretty obvious whose fault that is,” Yakovenko said.

In the meantime, IRL experiences may help people warm up to Web3, the so-called decentralized iteration of the internet, said Yakovenko, with a touch of irony.

“Kind of counterintuitive, right? I think post COVID-19, people really are urging for real-life experiences,” he said, mentioning the Solana Spaces store that recently opened in New York. “Web3, so digital, it just felt like a silly thing that could work.”

Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.