Previous research has shown that users and non-users of cryptocurrencies have grave misconceptions about the technology. On the one hand this leads to risky behavior and eventually to financial loss , and on the other hand it erodes trust and adoption of the technology. On a larger scale this mistrust leads to policies that are detrimental to a flourishing development of privacy preserving cryptocurrencies such as Zcash [2, 3, 4]. However, Zcash as a currency profits greatly from network effects based on a wide adoption by users and it is therefore crucial to support potential users in trusting and adopting Zcash as a form of currency.
The solution is to create tools the users interact with that facilitate the formation of trust and are easy to use. To do so it is important to understand which factors are important for new users when the interact with Zcash through user interfaces, online tools and wallet applications. Although, there has been prior work in e-commerce and e-government, these results can not be directly translated to cryptocurrencies. Therefore, I will conduct user studies to analyze which factors are crucial for to convert potential users into actual users of a cryptocurrency. The studies will look at wallets and other software in the ecosystem and produce guidelines and actionable advice for software developers of the Zcash ecosystem. The results will provide a factual basis for these guidelines and, I believe, are crucial for improving the state-of-the-art of current tools. Because policy makers are also potential users, easy to use tools that facilitate trust will also help potential policy makers to understand the technology more easily and lead to better decisions.
The focus of the study will be tools for actions that are traditionally difficult for users (interacting with cryptographic keys, backups, etc) or are potentially difficult to understand and trust (shielded transactions). As such the study will entail a recently funded proposal for ZF Grants (Paper Wallet Generator) and the ZCash iOS Wallet or Zepio with its development currently on hold. Being able to evaluate the new tools and applications before their release will also help developers and companies to save costs because issues can be identified during implementation and there is no necessity to fix them post-release, which traditionally incurs high costs.
I have worked as a researcher in usable security and privacy for more than 4 years. I have previous publications about usability issues of cryptocurrencies. Details @ my website
1. Literature research to identify influencing factors and trust proxies 2. Expert walkthroughs of existing ZCash wallets supporting shielded and transparent transactions - focusing on shielded support 3. Generate mock-ups and simulators for the lab study 4. Run comparative lab study with about 15 Participants to evaluate new designs (based on the devised design guidelines) against current designs 5. Analyze results and write up the design guide
1. Month 1: Literature research (Task 1) and expert walkthroughs (Task 2) 2. Month 2: Generate mock-ups and simulators (Task 3) 3. Month 3: Lab study (recruitment and planning) (Task 4) 4. Month 4: Lab study (conducting) (Task 4) 5. Month 5: Result analysis and design guide creation (Task 5)
For the complete project we expect around 5 months of duration and about 50 000 euro for the time intensive tasks of literature research as well as the lab study. This includes the necessary preparations, equipment and compensation of the study participants as incentive to participate.
(Time of writing around 50000 EUR at 66,7 EUR / ZEC)