Trusting the Faceless and Decentralized? An Exploration of Trust Among Cryptocurrency Users and Non-Users

Abstract

Digital currencies have been gaining an increasing interest over recent years, which resulted in a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Naturally, this growth attracted various actors, including, but not limited to, dishonest, or outright fraudulent cryptocurrency start-ups and exchanges. While these threats are well-documented, little is known about how users develop and maintain trust towards the actors in the Blockchain domain. This project presents results of an interview study (N = 20) investigating trust among cryptocurrency users and non-users. Findings show that the vast majority of trust determinants are based on unreliable information (e.g., information on social media or white papers) prone to mimicry and fraud. Further, factors are identified that negatively correlate with the trust perception of non-users (e.g., usability issues of cryptocurrency tools and exchanges), thus, possibly resulting in non-involvement. We conclude with design recommendations that can help in fostering trust and reduce the risk of malicious actors.