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Educating blockchain: study shows public wary of the technology



British users are not yet on board with the blockchain bandwagon, according to new research. Over a third (35%) of Brits say they would not trust an organization using the technology with their personal information, and that they are not fully aware of what blockchain actually is.

The research, conducted by OnePulse, found that 11% of those who were familiar with blockchain said they would not trust a business using it, meaning that overall nearly half of the public would avoid organizations using blockchain technology. 

28% said that they would not trust an organization using any technology they don’t understand, highlighting that businesses need to be careful on what new tools and services they are pushing into the public domain.

As businesses double down on their security in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) age, many are considering how they can use Blockchain to provide an additional layer of security, in part due to the technology’s “incorruptible” nature.

Overall, 53% of the survey respondents had never heard of blockchain before, with only 18% able to correctly identify what the technology actually is.

The research was carried out at the recent IP Expo Europe trade show, and it found that even those who do know what blockchain actually is are wary of the technology. 

The news comes despite blockchain being touted as the “next big thing” in a wide variety of industries, with the technology cited as a breakthrough in work ranging from security to healthcare.

“Blockchain is a technology that many people in the industry are still struggling to wrap their head around, so it’s of no surprise that it’s also causing plenty of confusion for the general public," said Andy Steed, director of content for IP Expo Europe.

"Businesses need to make sure they are not only deploying new technology like blockchain in a way that will have a meaningful impact, but that they are taking the time to explain what the technology is in easy to understand language to their customers instead of simply stating that they are using it.”

In response to the study’s results, Chris Burruss, president of BiTA (Blockchain in Transport Alliance), tells FreightWaves, “I don’t think people in general can separate crypto from blockchain, but it’s almost like saying Facebook and the internet are the same thing. The internet continues to exist without Facebook, and blockchain can exist without cryptos. People have to learn to separate them and learn what the technology is.”

As to the idea of not trusting the technology, Burruss says, “What you’re doing is creating transparency and you’re creating security. What do you have now? You have a centralized system, which are prone to data breaches. We’ve seen it time and again, if not daily, they’re a part of a normal occurrence. Blockchain seeks to create greater security. It’s not necessarily impossible, but it’s highly improbable [to break it]. The decentralized—every node having a same copy of the data—it’s a shared copy of the truth. As opposed to a centralized, which is one version of the truth.”

Burruss adds that it’s natural for the general public to be suspect, “but right now I think we’re somewhere between the hype and reality.” While blockchain is certainly not a solution for everything, companies have to look at whether it’s for them or not. “It’s a decision tree,” says Burruss.

BiTA was formed by experienced tech and transportation executives to create a forum for the development of blockchain standards and education for the freight industry. Their goal is to bring together leading companies in the freight technology industries that have a vested interest in the development of blockchain technology. Thousands of companies have applied for membership. For more information, click here.