Determining the Inherent Risks of Cryptocurrency: A Survey Analysis

Steven A. Harrast, Debra McGilsky, Yan Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cryptocurrencies pose several risks that impact the inherent risk assessments of auditors. The SEC has issued warnings about the risks (Clayton 2017), and the PCAOB lists virtual assets as a key focus area in future inspections (Vincent and Wilkins 2020). This study examines how accounting professionals perceive the inherent risks associated with cryptocurrency based on their likelihood of occurrence and expected impact on financial statements. We find the risk of determining cryptocurrency value is perceived as having the highest likelihood of occurrence, and unauthorized private key access has the highest impact. Combining the evaluations of likelihood and impact, we rank the risk of ineffective exchange-level controls as having the highest inherent risk. We also find that inherent risk judgments are negatively correlated with cryptocurrency experience. Professionals with prior cryptocurrency experience, or who work for a company planning to process cryptocurrency transactions, rate inherent risk lower than those with less experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)A10-A17
JournalCurrent Issues in Auditing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • accounting risk judgments
  • cryptocurrency
  • cryptocurrency risk judgments
  • exchange risk
  • ineffective exchange controls
  • inherent risk
  • risk
  • risk rankings


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