Bitcoin has a ways to go when it comes to being understood by the general public and even by today’s bitcoin users. A recent study by Janne Lindqvist, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and a member of the Rutgers Wireless Information Network Laboratory, revealed that people who have not used bitcoin don’t think they ever can use it.
The study also found that bitcoin users are not well informed about how bitcoin works. They overestimate how private transactions are.
The study will be published at the annual Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in May, in San Jose, Calif. The conference, known as CHI, is the premier international conference on human-computer interaction. Assisting Lindqvist in the study were graduate students Gradeigh D. Clark and Xianyi Gao.
Lindqvist said the interviews were done a year before bitcoin developer Mike Hearn publicly stated bitcoin has failed, an event that drew major media attention.
The Rutgers researchers interviewed 10 bitcoin users and 10 non-users about their perceptions of the digital currency.
Those with no bitcoin experience said it was either too scary to use or would be too difficult.
Active bitcoin users did not know much about how it works. They expressed misconceptions about bitcoin’s ability to protect their anonymity since the transactions record in a public ledger and can be traced. The users trust the privacy and security mechanisms more than they should.
Bitcoin users want government insurance of bitcoin deposits, despite the fact that the users are largely anti-regulation and anti-government.
The participants’ ideas about an ideal payment system closely matched the features bitcoin currently provides.
Rutgers will conduct additional studies to gauge changes in perceptions following the current controversy that Hearn caused. Even if bitcoin failed, many stakeholders are interested in digital currencies, Lindqvist said. Because of bitcoin, there will be more cryptocurrencies or greater use of bitcoin and various currencies.
A cash-free society is possible in the future, he said, although he is not sure if people will be willing to give up cash.
Cash, he noted, is convenient for many purposes and provides anonymity. “What I personally like is the anonymity. You can’t track at all what I’m buying from the supermarket if I don’t use a loyalty card with my purchases when I pay in cash.”
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Last modified (UTC): January 26, 2016 07:00