Accelerating Blockchain

From Proof of Concept to Implementation

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Blockchain and distributed ledger technology are quickly gaining traction over the world. Private and public sector organisations are increasingly attempting to apply the technology to reduce costs or improve efficiency. The technology has the potential to make transactions and processes more transparent, trustworthy and efficient. Many are suggesting that it will revolutionise a number of industries. However, despite organisations’ enthusiasm and its rapid evolution, the technology is still in its infancy.

Many ‘proof of concept’ projects that attempt to prove the benefits of a particular use case of blockchain technology are underway or complete. Ultimately, most of these projects will fail and it may take years for potential benefits to crystallise. Even those that demonstrate promise will face many challenges in moving from proof of concept to implementation status.

The Global Leaders Exchange at the Future Blockchain Summit, held in May 2018, was commissioned to further the discussion on distributed ledger technology and formulate a set of outcomes that will accelerate the development of the industry. These sessions, hosted by Smart Dubai and sponsored by PwC, brought together governments, trade associations, policy makers and enterprise to engage in high level discussions and inform a framework to facilitate blockchain proliferation.

A particular focus was given to the following:

  • Overcoming collaboration and interoperability challenges
  • The role of governments in enablement and regulation
  • Best practices derived from implementation projects in different countries

This whitepaper summarises the main outcomes from the discussion and puts forward practical suggestions to help organisations make the transition from proof of concept to implementation.

“Blockchain will do for transactions what the internet has done for information”

Executive Summary

There is little doubt that blockchain technology has the potential to change the nature of capitalism by bringing more trust, efficiency, transparency and accurate recording to everyday transactions. But before this can happen, challenges must be overcome to allow proof of concept projects to progress to full implementation. These challenges range from technical, to organisational, to regulatory – and are complex in nature.

Education

The need for more and better education is clear. The continued development of a community to further raise awareness and champion the benefits of blockchain is needed to achieve tangible benefits from blockchain technology use cases.

Interoperability

Most blockchain applications are tailored to specific use cases, or industry sectors, and this trend of verticalisation (or specialisation) of blockchains is accelerating. These different blockchain protocols and applications have created the need for interoperability: defined as communicating and exchanging information and value between blockchains. Achieving this goal requires embracing the open source movement, agreeing common standards and establishing trusted blockchains, all of which are complex problems to overcome. The 2018 PwC Global Blockchain Survey highlighted that 41% of respondents cited interoperability concerns as one of their top three barriers to blockchain adoption.*

Collaboration

Collaboration is arguably more important to the proliferation of blockchain technology. The true benefits of blockchain are only likely to be realised when organisations work together to a sufficient extent – trust, transparency and efficiency can only be achieved at scale and across an ecosystem. Collaboration provides a platform for organisations to pool resources, knowledge and investment to reduce risks and accelerate development. A strong, distributed governance model is critical for success, the attributes of which must include open dialogue, transparency and in some cases independent facilitation.

Role of government

Finally, the role of government cannot be underestimated. Whether as an enabler (through industry advisory bodies, accessible platforms or sandboxes) or as a regulator (by establishing policy), governments have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of blockchain technology proliferation.

Government organisations such as Smart Dubai are providing vision and leadership to pioneer blockchain technology – enterprise organisations need to follow suit. The time is now to invest in education, identify opportunities for collaboration to drive progress, and engage with regulators and standards setters to establish clarity and stability.

Contact us

Matthew White

Matthew White

Partner, Digital Trust Leader, PwC Middle East

Tel: +971 (0) 56 113 4205

Oliver Sykes

Oliver Sykes

Partner, Digital Trust, PwC Middle East

Tel: +971 (0) 56 480 2447

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