Written by Justin Ahmed
Must Read of the Week:
A great deal of hype has surrounded the emergence of blockchain technology and its potential to disrupt and transform financial services industries across the globe – lowering the costs and complexities of transactions, improving transparency, and supporting service delivery to the unbanked. Still, maybe not enough attention has been paid to its potential to alter enterprise management structures, networked business models, and consumer-company dynamics at their very core.
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Don and Alex Tapscott reveal some of their key findings from a two-year research project spanning hundreds of interviews with blockchain experts. The authors expound upon blockchain’s power to shift business, government, and society in ways even more profound than the advent of the internet. Central to such power is the ability to impart productivity gains while eliminating the need trusted intermediaries. For example, smart contracts (software programs that self-execute complex instructions) and autonomous agents (bundles of smart contracts acting like rich applications) are such applications which can eliminate contracting, payment, agency, and coordination costs and facilitate structural shifts in enterprise management.
Much of the focus of blockchain technology in the context of global development has been on applications improving efficiency of financial services (e.g. remittance platforms offered by BitPesa in Kenya and by Rebit and coins.ph in the Philippines) and on increased transparency and capacity of public service providers (e.g. for land registry as provided by Factom in Honduras and Bitland in West Africa). However, start-ups have emerged across the blockchain space for ends as diverse as protection of intellectual property, crowd-sourcing project management, and expansion of “sharing economy” infrastructure. Some multinationals have themselves taken up the call to adapt to and anticipate the shift, as Visa has through the launch of an innovation laboratory in Bangalore solely dedicated to global blockchain technology development. As the article’s authors recognize, the individual control and immutability afforded by distributed ledgers holds implications for management, collaboration, exchange, and ownership across increasingly-integrated segments of the economy across the developing world.
Read the article here, or purchase their book on the same subject released this week: Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business and the World.
Peru: 34 Peruvian savings banks have launched a fully-interoperable national e-wallet system, “Billetera movil” (BIM)
Pakistan: Enclude partner, Karandaaz Pakistan, part of a consortium to set up USD 58 million Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company (PMIC)
Bangladesh: $81 million Bangladesh Bank heist linked to 2014 Sony hack and additional SWIFT breaches
Global: Kount’s ‘Nine Deadly Costs of Fraud’
United States: Lending Club facing questions concerning executive leadership, stock prices, and the future of its entire lending niche
Wearables / Financial Responsibility
United States: Intelligent Environments releases Pavlov-inspired electro-shocking bracelet to support financial responsibility