This article discusses the cultural conceptions of trust underpinning the experimentation of blockchain startup applications beyond the financial sector. Based on qualitative research undertaken in the context of the so-called “Blockchain 2.0” scene, we show how a peculiar conception of trust, which blends the libertarian views of blockchain inventors with the neoliberal culture of competition and meritocracy that is typical of the startup world, underpins these implementations. As a result, we argue that “Blockchain 2.0” entrepreneurs ultimately fail to recognize the eminently social nature of the trust-building process. They emerge from our observation as unable to comprehend the extent to which the implementation of blockchain in a societal (i.e., not purely financial) context cannot do away with considerations about what kind of “social” the technology intervenes within, and find difficult to effectively conceive of how this technology embeds in existing social relations and power structures.

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