A select group of entrepreneurs and government and university representatives came together at the end of September for a series of roundtable discussions to explore the future of Blockchain and how it can best be implemented in the Netherlands. Discussions highlighted the promise that Blockchain offers, but they focused primarily on the greatest challenge to implementing the new technology successfully in the Netherlands: earning the public’s trust.
During the ‘Blockchain Future of Trust Summit 2017,’ which took place in the 800-year-old venue of the Ridderzaal in The Hague, 250 participants shared their vision of and experience with the relatively new technology. They also collaborated on potential implementations of Blockchain to solve societal issues such as global trade, public safety, identity theft, humanitarian aid and more.
But the participants’ enthusiasm about Blockchain’s possibilities plays itself out against the backdrop of public distrust in the technology. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows that the gap between the public’s trust in the technology sector and its trust in Blockchain technology in particular is greater than anywhere else in the world. In spite of the fact that there is a significant decline in public trust in institutions, the average Dutch person still trusts the technology sector to do ‘what is right.’ Their trust in the Blockchain technology sector is in the distrust zone, however.
The Dutch public is generally distrustful about new technology. One concern they’ve voiced about technology in general – protection of consumer and user data – likely underpins their distrust of Blockchain. There is clearly confusion within the public about how it works and how accessible private information is to others. These concerns play out alongside the reality that Blockchain can enhance transparency in banking, business and government interaction.
So, how can businesses in the Blockchain sector work to building trust? It’s essential that people understand what Blockchain is, what happens with (personal) information and, importantly, how the technology can benefit them. Listen to and understand people’s concerns, anticipate them and address them openly. Trust is only won when you let people know they are being heard. So, listen actively and act mindfully.
Blockchain has much to offer the average consumer, but fear and distrust of the unknown and the motives behind the companies’ implementation of this technology make people reluctant to embrace it. There is a way forward in all of this! A well thought through and planned content and engagement strategy can build public awareness and trust step by step.
Develop and execute such steps as authentically and transparently as you can, if and where possible using ‘normal everyday’ people as ambassadors. Be strategic about your content you publish and the channels you use to reach people, tailoring things to specific needs and concerns. Trust will grow as people start to understand the technology and its benefits for the public will become tangible.
In short, the smooth and as-swift-as-possible implementation of Blockchain technology starts with building public trust. Essential to build trust are transparent communication and direct interaction with the public about how it works and how it benefits them. Blockchain is a highly promising technology that could offer traceable and safe data exchange. People simply need to be well informed and reassured.