What in the World is a Blockchain?

A new survey shows that 60% of businesses haven't adopted blockchain and that could be because 40% said they don't understand the technology, or don’t see how it could be useful for their company.

A survey of C-level corporate executives conducted by RANE found that many lack a clear understanding of the technology or benefits of blockchain, a distributed ledger that can permanently record transactions between two parties.

This lack of understanding, combined with concerns over a lack of clear regulatory guidelines, could potentially hinder more widespread adoption of blockchain technology.

The survey was crafted in coordination with the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance at the Foundation  (CSIF)for Defense of Democracies. The survey was conducted in October 2017.

The RANE survey of Chief Compliance Officers, General Counsels, CFOs, CISOs, and CIOs across the financial services, consulting, healthcare, technology, manufacturing, legal, industrial, and security industries, found that over 60% of respondents have not yet adopted blockchain.

Other highlights of the survey include the following:

--Of those who have not adopted the technology, roughly 40% said either they don’t understand the technology, or don’t see how it could be useful for their company.

-- 23% of respondents cited a concern over lack of clear legal and policy frameworks governing blockchain applications, including half of those firms currently in the process of incorporating the technology, who say they still require additional understanding of security controls and protections before finalizing the implementation.

--Of those who responded that unclear legal and policy frameworks were the main impediments to blockchain adoption, 83% were from the financial services industry.

According to Yaya Fanusie, director of analysis at CSIF, most financial authorities are being careful to not prematurely over-regulate the blockchain space. This hesitation to create more precise guidelines for the technology’s evolving applications has left firms wondering how to navigate the regulatory uncertainty.FinCen issued broad guidance in 2013 requiring cryptocurrency exchanges to follow the same regulations as money service businesses.

It is unclear how nascent blockchain technologies may fall under established regulatory mandates such as Dodd-Frank, FINRA, SEC regulations, and the “right to be forgotten” under EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

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