For all the hype and excitement around distributed ledger technology (DLT), speakers at the Forex Network Chicago conference debated the real value of decentralised systems such as blockchain.
“If you’re trying to build a business you need to make it cheaper, quicker, with better customer services and hopefully allow people to have more access. Let’s be honest, blockchain fails on nearly all of those things,” asserted Adrian Patten, co-Founder and chairman of Cobalt.
Patten added that the existing system for agreeing contracts has some elements that are beneficial, such as mediation, that decentralisation doesn’t necessarily allow for. By contrast, he described some of the things that he’s witnessed in the decentralised crypto trading space as “bloody scary”, adding: “A lot of these exchanges are being run on laptops and they’re lucky if they have Excel”.
Patten continued: “Decentralisation doesn’t have to be a good thing, at the moment it’s bloody scary and there’s a lot of people making a boat load of money that shouldn’t be. So let’s try and have a bit of sense about what is right and what is wrong.”
Cristina Dolan, co-founder and COO of InsureX, came to the defense of decentralised networks, arguing that although they don’t need to be used for everything, there are lots of use cases where they provide significant benefits, even if these benefits aren’t always immediately obvious.
Giving an example of this, Dolan cited the potential for a supermarket that has sold some bad food to be able to immediately figure out where that product had come from and where it had been distributed if everything was recorded on a decentralised ledger. This is something that currently would almost certainly take a lot longer and be more complex, possibly damage the brand of the supermarket as a result.
“So I think there are other intangibles that have something to do with the value that the technology can offer. I don’t think you have to put everything on [blockchain], but I think there are ways that it will evolve that will allow for this mathematically locked in record journey that will facilitate the ability to prove that trusted journey,” said Dolan.