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EDITOR’S NOTE | Chained to the future

While business folk and tech watchers go on attacking and defending blockchain, arguing in a loop over whether it has value or not, notable evidence of its growing credibility among large companies and authorities keeps racking up quietly in the background, writes Paul Unger.

IBM has signed an AUD$1bn (£740m) deal with the Australian government to introduce blockchain and other technologies to departments over the next five years. In Singapore, financial authorities are considering accepting blockchain for clearing payments and there is even talk of the currency being put on the secure database. In Sweden, Lantmäteriet, the country’s 400-year old land registry is to start testing blockchain for recording property sales.

In the UK, the revered London School of Economics has launched a blockchain course to enable students on the £1,800 six-week crammer, entitled Cryptocurrency Investment & Disruption, to value crypto coins and pick winners and losers. Buying shares in the companies trading bits of blockchain is different to using it as a decentralised ledger for secure contracts. It’s even more radical and this is the LSE, where state leaders around the globe hone their thinking.

In property, there are numerous examples of blockchain gaining traction, not least with venture fund MetaProp saying those not adopting it will be ‘wiped out‘. This month eLocations, the retail data startup, will use an initial coin offering to fund expansion.

The sport of kicking around the pros and cons of blockchain will continue for years. In the meantime, the likelihood of a positive outcome for believers will be enhanced by heavy hitters saying ‘yes we believe it’s worth a look’. More adopters means more testing, feedback, product refinement and investment in improvements, driving adoption as the experience gets better. The greater the number of people wading into blockchain, the higher the probability they will prove the tech and themselves right. Those leaving the game before it’s started can be certain they won’t be winning anything soon.

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