The purpose of the project “The Potential of Blockchain” is to explore and describe the potential use of blockchain technology in general and phenomenom around the technology. The target is also to clarify and anticipate its role in the future from Finnish point of view. The research project outlines societal effects, possibilities and challenges of the blockchain technology as well. Due to this and based on the research will be introduced some thinkable reflections on policy making.

When you start searching information about ”blockchain” in the internet, you find a typical phenomenom with huge hype. It seems that the hype isn't muted even by the background of blockchain, which lies in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and in its technology, which basis The Economist has described as ”a currency based on clever cryptography which has a devoted following among mostly well-off, often anti-government and sometimes criminal geeks.”

Due to this, the roots of the project are in the widely spread media discussion on coming of blockchain technology. Blockchain has been described as revolutionary technology, which can be used in various branches of society. In financial industry the leading banks of the world are spending hundreds of million euros on startup companies, which are believed to develop applications to reduce transaction times and costs of the banking sector.

Many writers have compared a breakthrough of blockchain technology with the birth of internet.   As some critical commentators has noted we can almost identify blockchain talk as a hype. The hype can be easily verified by following news and commentaries about blockchain in media.  Even though breakthrough of blockchain can be true in some years and real-life applications are still missing, blockchain discourse promises healthy and wealthy times for the whole world soon. However, for example Gartner (August 2016) has concluded that the blockchain hype has reached its peak and users and the public are suffering from "inflated expectations" about benefits of blockchain technology. The hype or not, according to the WEF report (August 2016), more than US$1.4 billion has been invested in the blockchain technology over the past three years.  More than 90 biggest banks are engaged in distributed ledger technology discussions worldwide and 80% of banks predicted to initiate various projects by 2017.

The arrival of the blockchain technology has been bound to the interests of financial services sector.  Due to this, it has been banks and other financial sector firms, which are financially main advocates of it. PwC has estimated that there are about 300 technology start-ups developing ideas for how to make blockchain work for financial services. Most of them operate in the US or UK. However, possibilities of blockchain technology has been identified also in various industries and in public sector. Some applications are developed for example for use in health care, energy, education, general government and security services. Currently, new applications are searched very intensively all over the world by start-up companies, which develop new platforms and services. 

Duration: 1.8.2016-30.6.2017

Project manager: Docent Mats Nylund

Participating researchers: 

  • Magnus Westerlund
  • Mats Nylund