Is blockchain about to take over?
Blockchain is increasingly cited as the solution to many of the world's problems, offering a low friction, tamper-resistant record of transactions or processes.
Harvard Business School's Iansiti and Lakhani argue that although blockchain offers great promise, “True blockchain-led transformation of business and government… is still many years away.” They argue that “It would be a mistake to rush headlong into blockchain innovation without understanding how it is likely to take hold”, and recommend a step by step approach to organisations planning to implement the technology within their activities.
EU focus on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies
There is increasing focus on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies among EU legislators and institutions, within a specific FinTech context and more broadly.
A May 2016 European Parliament report focusing on virtual currencies also emphasised the potential for Distributed Ledger Technologies beyond financial transactions. The MEPs' resulting resolution identified:
"DLT's potential to accelerate, decentralise, automate and standardise data-driven processes at lower cost has the potential to alter fundamentally the way in which assets are transferred and records are kept, with implications for both the private and the public sector, the latter being concerned in three dimensions: as a service provider, as a supervisor and as a legislator."
Blockchain now has a place both in the parts of the EU Commission dealing with financial services and digital technology. These units have come together to establish the Financial Technology Task Force. A recently closed consultation by the FTTF called for views on distributed ledger technologies in a financial services context.
Plans for a Blockchain Observatory and Forum
Now the EU Commission's Digital Single Market programme, is calling for proposals to set up a new organisation dealing with Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies in their broadest sense, and has €500,000 to spend. The plan for the proposed Blockchain Observatory and Forum is “to identify and provide analysis of the technological and organisational trends of emerging issues in an agile way”.
The call for tenders is open until 25 September.