Scotland '˜laying foundations' for in-demand blockchain

Four in five executives globally now have blockchain initiatives under way, as Scotland lays 'strong foundations' for harnessing the technology's potential, according to new research published today.

Steve Davies, blockchain leader at PwC: 'Scotland has good momentum in exploring blockchain.' Picture: Peter Devlin
Steve Davies, blockchain leader at PwC: 'Scotland has good momentum in exploring blockchain.' Picture: Peter Devlin

A study conducted by PwC, which surveyed 600 ­bosses in 15 territories including 41 in the UK, showed 84 per cent of company executives are currently undertaking blockchain initiatives, with a ­quarter of these already ­having fully live blockchain implementations or running pilot projects.

A blockchain is a digital ledger made up of a growing list of records, and best known as the foundation for Bitcoin cryptocurrency trading.

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Despite its potential, concerns regarding “regulatory uncertainty and trust” are the biggest obstacle to companies adopting it for wider business needs, the study said, although collaborative projects seeking to tackle such issues are now under way in Scotland.

Steve Davies, blockchain leader at PwC, said: “Scotland has good momentum in exploring blockchain.

“While there is always more to be done, we can already see collaboration between government, academic institutions, the private sector and the dynamic emerging tech sector overall, laying strong foundations for harnessing the potential of the technology.”

The Blockchain Technology Academy at the University of Edinburgh, was launched last year by the School of Informatics, in conjunction with technology group IOHK, while the Scottish Government has partnered with Wallet-Services, a start-up based at Codebase in Edinburgh, to establish a blockchain strategy.

This follows the Scottish Government’s commitment, outlined in its digital strategy published last March, to exploring the potential of blockchain and distributed ledger technology to make public services safer.

However, Scotland still has work to do to become a global blockchain player, as respondents perceived the US and ­China as the most advanced markets in its development, with 29 per cent and 18 per cent of the vote respectively.

Davies said companies are keen to make the most of blockchain, as it can bring benefits such as cutting out intermediaries, reducing cost and increasing speed of ­business processes.

He said: “Businesses tell us that they don’t want to be left behind by blockchain, even if at this early stage of its development, concerns on trust and regulation remain. Blockchain by its very definition should engender trust. But in reality, companies ­confront trust issues at nearly every turn.”

According to Davies, maximising the technology’s potential would require the “transformation of business models, roles, and processes”.