Politics and speed of change hit blockchain adoption

By David Beach | 12 February 2019

The slow adoption of blockchain solutions has little to do with the maturity of the technology but rather the speed at which it changes and the politics behind the consortia required to build the infrastructure, according to Adi Ben-Ari, CEO of Applied Blockchain.

“We’ve found that in many environments the benefits could be quantified and that work could at least begin with the technology in its existing state. But the bigger problems were and still are political, environmental and competitive, but the tech is not the barrier to the pace of blockchain innovation,” he said, speaking on a panel at London Blockchain Week.

“We work with customers within supply chains and shipping,” said Ben-Ari, whose organisation delivers blockchain solutions to the likes of Shell, Toyota and Vodafone. “And then there’s the dilemma of when to jump in because when you set up the consortium and start the work you’re putting a stake in the ground on a particular tech base. That’s very difficult to do in this environment because the technology is so fast moving.”

Anthony Woolley, head of innovation UK at Societe Generale, agreed with Ben-Ari that the technology is not the main barrier holding blockchain back from wider penetration –rather that further industry collaboration is required to realise proper applications.

“Technology is not at the top of the barriers list,” he said. “It’s still emerging but if the challenge were only the technology a lot of those problems would have been pushed through. The problem is building the infrastructure before you’re able to run the applications on top while holding a number of parties together in a consortium,” he said.

A recent report by the Australian government’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) recommended that companies “focus on the problem… before applying the solution.”

Woolley pointed to the bank’s own history of refocusing the path of the technology and ultimately endeavouring to find the right use case.

“We started by looking at use cases around smart contracts, cryptography and tokenisation in derivatives in 2014-2015,” he said. “The problem is when you have an emerging technology, everyone intellectually projects forward very fast.

“The use cases that initially interested us are some of the last things that will come to reality. We’ve found that the applications are moving; some use cases are nearer, some use cases are further away,” said Woolley.

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