Why Mobile Crypto-Wallets Are Hard to Use

Over the past years, the cryptocurrency domain has grown substantially. As of May 2021, there exist over 6,000 different cryptocurrencies with a combined worth of over $2.5 trillion USD. The corresponding user base has also changed significantly and is no longer only made up of cypherpunks and computer experts as was the case in the early days of Bitcoin. One of the main reasons for this phenomenon is widely accessible software tools that lowered the entry barriers and made it possible to purchase and own cryptocurrencies with a single click. Managing these cryptocurrencies, however, has been found to be challenging for the users and it remains largely unknown what features of current wallets contribute to the poor UX, why, and to what extent.

In a corpus of 45,821 app reviews of the top five mobile cryptocurrency wallets, we identified and qualitatively
analyzed 6,859 reviews pertaining to the user experience (UX) with those wallets. Our analysis suggests that both new and experienced users
struggle with general and domain-specific UX issues that, aside from frustration and disengagement, might lead to dangerous errors and
irreversible monetary losses. We reveal shortcomings of current wallet UX as well as users’ misconceptions, some of which can be traced back
to a reliance on their understanding of conventional payment systems. For example, some users believed that transactions were free, reversible,
and could be canceled anytime, which is not the case in reality. Correspondingly, these beliefs often resulted in unmet expectations.
Based on our findings, we provide recommendations on how to design cryptocurrency wallets that both alleviate the identified issues and
counteract some of the misconceptions in order to better support newcomers.

You can find more information in the paper:

Artemij Voskobojnikov (website, LinkedIn), Oliver Wiese, Masoud Mehrabi Koushki, Volker Roth, Konstantin Beznosov. The U in Crypto Stands for Usable: An Empirical Study of User Experience with Mobile Cryptocurrency Wallets. Proceedings of the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (ACM CHI’21), 2021. The paper received an honourable mention from CHI 2021.


The following video provides a quick overview of the research.


You can also watch the full video presentation of the paper at CHI 2021 below.