Towards understanding and improving the crypto-asset user experience

Artemij Voskobojnikov


Abstract: The crypto-asset domain has grown substantially over the past years, both in terms of overall market capitalization, available crypto-assets, and the number of users. While the underlying protocols are well-studied, little attention has been paid to the user behaviors. This dissertation presents the results of mixed-methods research that investigated the motivations, behaviors, and user experience challenges of both users and non-users of crypto-assets. We found that crypto-asset usage is nuanced and is influenced by factors, such as the asset at hand, the amount invested, and the level of expertise of the respective user. This heterogeneity in behaviors was also confirmed through a cluster analysis. Through this analysis, we identified three distinct types of crypto-asset users, which we labeled as cypherpunks, hodlers, and rookies. While both cypherpunks and hodlers had high perceived self-efficacy (i.e., the ability to use crypto-assets and tools), they differed in their risk perceptions, with hodlers believing to be more vulnerable to potential risks, such as software wallet vulnerabilities. The rookies started to use crypto-assets recently and, unsurprisingly, had a lower self-efficacy when compared to the other two. They also owned fewer crypto-assets and used custodial wallets more often. We also identified factors influencing the adoption intention and behavior and found self-efficacy to be a major deterrent. Besides the perceived high complexity of crypto-assets and, in turn, the perceived inability to use them, non-users also cited the high risks and lack of regulatory support as a reason for non-involvement. Lastly, we investigated user experience complaints about the top five mobile crypto-wallets, i.e., mobile apps that allow users to manage their cryptographic keys for crypto-assets. We discovered that these wallets have severe usability issues. While some of these issues (e.g., crashes and freezes) are commonly encountered in mobile apps in general, others are domain-specific, such as inadequate fee and key import settings. We found that such issues led to dangerous errors and offer design recommendations in order to reduce such risks. Our findings further the understanding of the crypto-asset users and non-users and can improve the user experience by informing the design of more effective and user-friendly key management.

Keyword(s): Crypto-assets ; Cryptocurrencies ; Technology adoption ; Adoption intention ; Natural language processing ; Thematic analysis ; Review analysis ; User behavior ; Cluster analysis

Published in: Artemij Voskobojnikov, "Towards understanding and improving the crypto-asset user experience", PhD Dissertation, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, August, 2021::

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 Record created 2021-11-03, last modified 2021-11-03

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