Cryptocurrencies as Technologies of (Dis)Trust

Alesja Serada, Jori Antti Grym, J.Tuomas Harviainen, Tanja Sihvonen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientific


Cryptocurrencies are often proposed to abolish formal institutions and expert systems (Tapscott & Tapscott 2016; Vidan & Lehdonvirta 2019). Adoption of cryptocurrencies was supposed to be initiated by the aftermath of the 2007 global financial crisis, which led to general decline in systemic trust (Roth 2009). The Edelman reports (Edelman Public Relations 2016; 2020) are often cited to prove public distrust in banks. However, based on their data, trust in banks already rebounded in the early 2010s, when exchange prices for cryptocurrencies started growing. We suggest here that trust in cryptocurrencies is correlated with trust in existing banking systems (see Tapscott & Tapscott 2016). We support this by Savehistorical evidence from Bitcoin adoption, reflected in academic papers (Kow & Lustig 2017; Andersen & Bogusz 2019) and Edelman public opinion reports. We also analyze the topic through the lens of trust studies (Giddens [1990] 2008; Blomqvist 1997; Roth 2009; Kroeger 2015). The purpose of our discussion is to demonstrate that trust in currencies is a particular case of the systemic trust that ties modern societies together (Giddens [1990] 2008). Local and subcultural ‘trust in code’ (Vidan & Lehdovirta 2019) or the ‘code is law’ principle (Hütten 2019) cannot replace institutional trust, because it is contingent on it. Cryptocurrencies are trusted when they become a part of the same system that they are supposed to disrupt, despite the intention of many cryptocurrency activists to build a financial system without banks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFinance and Society : For a post-disciplinary finance studies
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeB3 Article in conference proceedings
Event12th Annual Critical Finance Studies Conference - Virtual, United Kingdom
Duration: 27.08.202028.08.2020
Conference number: 12


  • 511 Economics


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