26 January 2017
Making tea on the blockchain
Background:A new algorithm is entrancing the world of finance. The energy unleashed to challenge all existing solutions (from cross-border payments to post-trade securities settlement) and improve them is wonderful. But is Blockchain really new? More importantly: is it any better than the methods we had before? Should we business people even be talking about algorithms? Are some of the basic premises – like wanting to get rid of a central arbiter – really a good idea? Maybe the new champions just want to position themselves as the new central points of control! How would a fully distributed system work in the real world – especially since the basic algorithm does not seem scalable, uses inordinate amounts of energy and is even surprisingly bad at privacy?
Can one tweak the blockchain to make it more efficient, adhere to regulations like AML/KYC without losing all advantages? Or are we all just following the latest hype and will end up discovering that Blockchain is only for idealists (or criminals) intent on bypassing banks and central authorities? Maybe Blockchain really only is good for making tea.
The speaker – who studied Computer Science and spent many years at IBM managing the evolution of distributed solutions without blockchain – muses on hype versus reality and the tendency for our sometimes lemming-like behaviour. A reality check is offered on how to use the energy unleashed in the Blockchain debate to solve real problems in a practical way.