Most would have heard about blockchain but not many know what it is. So, what is blockchain?
The Singapore CFO Institute (SCFOI) together with the Singapore Management University (SMU) recently organised a roundtable discussion on blockchain and smart contracts – and their impact on CFOs and lawyers.
Participants included a diverse mix of CFOs, lawyers, academics and even blockchain experts.
An alternative form of payment
From the get-go, it was established that blockchain, along with its predecessor bitcoin, is a form of cryptocurrency or virtual currency that is fast emerging as an alternative form of payment.
Participants agreed that with its potential to increase efficiency and minimise costs and even the risk of fraud, blockchain technology presents a myriad opportunities for businesses and transactions. Already, blockchain technology is being used in smart contracts which facilitate, verify and self-execute contractual clauses.
While most participants recognised the immense benefit of this technology, some questioned how with its lack of a central authority, it could potentially be misused – trafficking of arms by terrorists for instance. Also, as a new technology, it has to be adopted by the mass market to truly have any impact on businesses worldwide.
All in all, the discussion was a most robust one with participants leaning towards two schools of thought – proponents or sceptics of this latest disruptive technology.
Will blockchain end up being just a technological fad? It is still early days, but judging from the meteoric rise of bitcoin – the currency is already being accepted as payment by a number of big businesses including Dell, Reddit, Expedia, PayPal, and Microsoft – it is unlikely that blockchain will be going away anytime soon.
The roundtable session was moderated by SMU’s Professor David Lee and former Chief Executive of the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC) Mr Uantchern Loh. The results of the discussion will be compiled into a White Paper by the university. #
The SCFOI is a workstream under the umbrella statutory body of the SAC and is dedicated to advancing the role of CFOs and CFO aspirants.