Wednesday, April 13, 2016

CFTC Commissioner on the Potential for Blockchain Technology

CFTC Commissioner J. Christopher Giancarlo recently delivered remarks on the blockchain, that is, the distributed ledger that is at the epicenter of Bitcoin.

I have long argued that, although the future for Bitcoin itself is somewhere between extremely limited and zero, that is not the case for the blockchain.

The blockchain has significant potential in finance and beyond.

Giancarlo does an excellent job in his speech of explaining how the blockchain could be used in finance. If you wanted to get an overview of how the blockchain can work in finance, this is the speech to read.

A couple of cautionary notes: Giancarlo is a regulator so he does look at the blockchain through the glasses of a regulator. I would advise that those examining the speech look beyond the questionable need for government to monitor financial transactions that is part of his theme and simply attempt put focus on his explanation of  how the blockchain could be used to record transactions and how such would of benefit to the private sector.

Also, of note, out of nowhere, Giancarlo states in the speech:
A recent report by Citigroup forecasts that retail banking automation including blockchain could spur a 30 percent decline in banking jobs across the U.S. and Europe over the next decade, the equivalent of eliminating nearly 2 million jobs.

He makes this remark with the seeming hidden implication that this is somehow a negative. The world changes, job opportunities change, until we are back in the Garden of Eden, there will always be job opportunities (though where the opportunities are in the economy may change over time). It is an internal contradiction to think a job loss means no other job opportunities.

The speech is here,


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