Trust and trust theories have been studied across several academic disciplines for decades. Along with the growing prominence of blockchains, trust seems to be a key aspect of all blockchain applications. We hear the claim that blockchain technology could substitute for trust and wonder if any new technology could really make parts of well-established theories obsolete. We explore how blockchain technology changes the need for and the role of trust when trading high value physical goods. We outline the terms and theoretical concepts and analyze the role of trust when trading diamonds with or without blockchain technology along four characteristics of trust – the action, the trustor and trustee relationship, vulnerability, and the subjectivity. We find that blockchain technology simultaneously substitutes and complements for trust when trading diamonds. We discuss our findings and open a debate whether the impact of blockchain technology on granting trust is truly affects the role of intermediaries in the ecosystem. Finally, we conclude by promoting larger interdisciplinary IS-led work programs investigating how blockchains affect transactions, the role of trust, and the functions of intermediaries.
Loebbecke, Claudia; Lueneborg, Leon; and Niederle, Denis, "Blockchain Technology Impacting the Role of Trust in Transactions: Reflections in the Case of Trading Diamonds" (2018). Research-in-Progress Papers. 68.