INSIGHTS

NEWS AND INSIGHTS FROM IGNIVA

DECEMBER 12, 2016

Blockchain’s Transformative Potential

BY AURELIA BONITO

Blockchain is the name of both a company, and the technology that they’ve spawned. The potential of the technology promises to make them a huge business success, but also to make them somewhat of an afterthought once blockchain (the technology) becomes so universally applied that it is an integral part of our daily lives. It might be that one day Blockchain (the brand name) comes to denote all sorts.

The technology is essentially a type of decentralised database which allows people to edit a shared data-set, but only if the change is agreed by a majority of those sharing that data-set or database. It therefore allows for peer review, and does not rely on any central authority, but rather relies for its authority on the people who need to trust the information placed there.

Banks and financial institutions have already invested heavily in the technology, while new partnerships are being announced all the time. For example, leading blockchain (the technology) research and development company, IOHK, recently announced the creation of a Blockchain Technology Laboratory to bring academics and students to collaborate to provide solutions to problems within the industry.

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However, this technology has the potential to transform the world beyond the business and corporate sphere, with former PM David Cameron putting his weight firmly behind the public and social policy opportunities the technology offers. Speaking at the launch of Blockchain’s new east London offices, Cameron said, ‘Obviously you've got amazing opportunity using blockchain technology in areas like banking and finance and insurance, but I think some of the public policy applications are potentially transformational.

I think there are so many opportunities that your technology has because it is digital, because it is decentralized, because it is transparent, because it is held away from governments. You have this opportunity to give the poorest and the most marginalised, the most dispossessed people in the world, to be able to have property rights, to be able to carry out transactions, to be able to save, to be able to invest. Your opportunities for instance in the remittances markets — a huge market — to help people have lower transaction costs and better property rights, are massive.

I think you're on the brink of a very exciting revolution in all of those areas, which as someone involved in public life is very interesting. It's great to be at the start of a revolution here in London, I hope you keep this revolution going, I hope the government hears loud and clear the things that you need, and I hope you go on succeeding and growing.'

With Cameron touted as a potential future NATO leader, this seems to be a huge global for the company itself, the technology more widely, and the London tech and start-up scene as a whole. Watch out for blockchain technology, whatever name it comes under.