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article imagePwC survey reports adoption of blockchain technology is stalling

By Karen Graham     Aug 28, 2018 in Technology
Regulation is proving to be the biggest sticking point in the deployment of blockchain solutions for businesses globally, with 84 percent of executives surveyed saying their companies are "actively involved" with the technology.
The 2018 Global Blockchain Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) of 600 global business executives across 15 countries has found that "Everyone is talking about blockchain, and no one wants to be left behind."
Blockchain is the technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. But it is actually much more than a financial instrument. Blockchain serves as a bookkeeping or ledger platform that is incorruptible, enforces transparency and bypasses censorship.
PwC found that 84 percent of business executives in the survey said their companies are "actively involved" with the technology, reports CNBC.
Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency  as the system works based on the blockchain tec...
Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency, as the system works based on the blockchain technology without a central bank or single administrator
Lars Hagberg, AFP
However, regulations are a big stumbling block with the development and deployment of the technology within many companies, registering higher than other issues. Fully 48 percent of respondents considered this a major issue with 27 percent identifying it as the single biggest barrier.
Additionally, 45 percent of business executives cited trust as being a big roadblock to the technology's acceptance, while 44 percent cited the inherent difficulty of bringing a network-based business together.
"In reality, companies confront trust issues at nearly every turn," PwC said. "As with any emerging technology, challenges and doubts exist around blockchain's reliability, speed, security, and scalability." However, the thought of turning over a business' ledger to the platform is still looked upon with a degree of risk, even though the platform is touted as faster and more secure by advocates.
Regulation a formidable barrier
There are a wide variety of approaches to regulating activities that blockchain technology can be used for, and it really depends on if a company is in Asia, Europe or North America. It seems that each region's unique approach to regulation brings with it some uncertainty.
As PwC points out, you can have regulation under GDPR rules in the European Union or no federal regulation, like in the United States. The PwC report states: "By and large, we expect existing regulation to extend to new business models and applications. If you remain agile, you’ll be able to adapt and remain compliant."
Alison Kutler, strategic policy advisers leader at PwC, told Forbes, “This conflict is creating tension, especially in industries with mature regulatory constructs and high-value transactions. In addition, widespread adoption of blockchain across jurisdictions and participants requires standardization, which is often achieved from a central authority."
And while it appears that a high percentage of companies surveyed say they are "actively involved" in blockchain technology, Bloomberg points out that only 15 percent of them have a live project and only 10 percent are piloting blockchain’s use.
Grainne McNamara, a principal at PwC, said in a phone interview that one problem with some companies is the cost of replacing legacy infrastructure with the new technology, and additionally, along that same line is the difficulty of trying to prove the new technology is better than what is already being used.
"It’s a little bit stunning how stagnant it is," McNamara said. "A lot of people took a few steps and are pausing before the bridge. They might be having a hard time articulating the ROI."
More about blockchain, PWC, Regulation, trust in system, cryptocurrencies
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