Anticipating the Economic Benefits of Blockchain

Article English OPEN
Melanie Swan (2017)
  • Publisher: Carleton University
  • Journal: Technology Innovation Management Review (issn: 1927-0321)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.22215/timreview/1109
  • Subject: blockchain | cryptocurrencies | cryptoeconomics | cybersecurity | digital asset registries | digital goods | distributed ledgers | economics | eWallet | lightning network | long tail markets | payment channels | programmable money | smart assets | smart contracts | streaming money | Technology (General) | T1-995 | Management. Industrial management | HD28-70

In this general overview article intended for non-experts, I define blockchain technology and some of the key concepts, and then I elaborate four specific applications that highlight the potential economic benefits of digital ledgers. These applications are digital asset registries, blockchains as leapfrog technology for global financial inclusion, long-tail personalized economic services, and net settlement payment channels. I also highlight key challenges that offset the potential economic benefits of blockchain distributed ledgers, while arguing that the benefits would outweigh the potential risks. The overarching theme is that an increasing amount of everyday operations involving money, assets, and documents could start to be conducted via blockchain-based distributed network ledgers with cryptographic security, and at more granular levels of detail. One economic implication of widespread blockchain adoption is that the institutional structure of society could shift to one that is computationally-based and thus has a diminished need for human-operated brick-and-mortar institutions.
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