Of Two Minds, Multiple Addresses, and One History: Characterizing Opinions, Knowledge, and Perceptions of Bitcoin Across Groups

Research paper by Xianyi Gao, Gradeigh D. Clark, Janne Lindqvist

Indexed on: 09 Mar '15Published on: 09 Mar '15Published in: Computer Science - Computers and Society


Digital currencies represent a new method for exchange and investment that differs strongly from any other fiat money seen throughout history. A digital currency makes it possible to perform all financial transactions without the intervention of a third party to act as an arbiter of verification; payments can be made between two people with degrees of anonymity, across continents, at any denomination, and without any transaction fees going to a central authority. The most successful example of this is Bitcoin, introduced in 2008, which has experienced a recent boom of popularity, media attention, and investment. With this surge of attention, we became interested in finding out how people both inside and outside the Bitcoin community perceive Bitcoin -- what do they think of it, how do they feel, and how knowledgeable they are. Towards this end, we conducted the first interview study (N = 20) with participants to discuss Bitcoin and other related financial topics. Some of our major findings include: not understanding how Bitcoin works is not a barrier for entry, although non-user participants claim it would be for them and that user participants are in a state of cognitive dissonance concerning the role of governments in the system. Our findings, overall, contribute to knowledge concerning Bitcoin and attitudes towards digital currencies in general.