Why it’s hard to trust a blockchain
Blockchain, by its very definition, should engender trust. But in reality, companies confront trust issues at nearly every turn. For one, users must build confidence in the technology itself. As with any emerging technology, challenges and doubts exist around blockchain’s reliability, speed, security and scalability. And there are concerns regarding a lack of standardisation and the potential lack of interoperability with other blockchains.
Also contributing to the blockchain trust gap is a lack of understanding. Even now, many executives are unclear on what blockchain really is and how it is changing all facets of business. Although the public narrative has moved beyond bitcoin, even the more recent focus and hype around ICOs only hint at the potential impact. Blockchain’s role as a dual-pronged change agent — as a new form of infrastructure and as a new way to digitise assets through tokens, including cryptocurrency — is not easy to explain. Think about other new technologies: users can try on virtual reality goggles or watch a drone take flight. But blockchain is abstract, technical and happening behind the scenes.
Another challenge for blockchain is building trust in the network. It is perhaps ironic that a technology meant to bring consensus hits a stumbling block on the early need to design rules and standards. Take payment systems and mechanisms in banking. Though everyone plays by the rules of existing systems today, they don’t necessarily agree on how an alternative blockchain-based model should be designed and operated.
Likewise, there’s a lack of comfort regarding regulation. The majority of regulators are still coming to terms with blockchain and cryptocurrency. Many territories have begun studying and discussing the issues, particularly as they relate to financial services, but the overall regulatory environment remains unsettled.