Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2022/075

Uncovering Impact of Mental Models towards Adoption of Multi-device Crypto-Wallets

Easwar Vivek Mangipudi and Udit Desai and Mohsen Minaei and Mainack Mondal and Aniket Kate

Abstract: The ever-increasing cohort of cryptocurrency users saw a sharp increase in different types of crypto-wallets in the past decade. However, different wallets are non-uniformly adopted in the population today; Specifically, emerging multi-device wallets, even with improved security and availability guarantees over their counterparts, are yet to receive proportionate attention and adoption. This work presents a data-driven investigation into the perceptions of cryptocurrency users towards multi-device wallets today, using a survey of255crypto-wallet users. Our results revealed two significant groups within our participants—Newbies and Non-newbies. These two groups statistically significantly differ in their usage of crypto-wallets. However, both of these groups were concerned with the possibility of their keys getting compromised and yet are unfamiliar with the guarantees offered by multi-device wallets. After educating the participants about the more secure multi-device wallets, around 70% of the participants preferred them; However, almost one-third of participants were still not comfortable using them. Our qualitative analysis revealed a gap between the actual security guarantees and mental models for these participants—they were afraid that using multi-device wallets will result in losing control over keys (and in effect funds) due to the distribution of key shares. We also investigated the preferred default settings for crypto-wallets across our participants, since multi-device wallets allow a wide range of key-share distribution settings. In the distributed server settings of the multi-device wallets, the participants preferred a smaller number of reputed servers (as opposed to a large non-reputed pool). Moreover, considerations about the threat model further affected their preferences, signifying a need for contextualizing default settings. We conclude the discussion by identifying concrete, actionable design avenues for future multi-device wallet developers to improve adoption.

Category / Keywords: Usability, Crypto-wallets, Multi-device wallets

Date: received 19 Jan 2022

Contact author: emangipu at purdue edu

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20220120:155849 (All versions of this report)

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