I recently attended a talk by SLA Europe on ‘What is the Blockchain and what can it do for you?'  Presentations were delivered by Dr Aeron Buchanan of the Web3 Foundation, Sally Connor of EY and Simon Drane of Earlsferry Advisory. Attendees comprised information professionals and legal staff, all of whom had a diverse range of interest and knowledge in blockchain technology.

Buchanan and Drane highlighted how decentralised consensus platforms (DCPs) can take the role of trusted intermediary as part of the contractual web. Blockchain technology boosts transparency, allows decentralisation, immutability and it can act as an automated intermediary in financial transactions. For example, automatic payment for late delivery, flight delays, warranty registrations and signing for goods are advantageous functions.

The representative from EY, Sally Connor, focused on the risks associated with blockchain technology. Questions were raised surrounding the legal ownership of data in a blockchain, control of a blockchain and whether a blockchain could meet regulatory compliance. Also, who is responsible for making sure that the data going into the blockchain is correct, reliable and accurate? If we are unable to modify or remove data, does this create a potential risk for multiple sectors? If the data entered into a blockchain is incorrect or inaccurate, what is the potential impact?

There is significant potential for blockchain technology to streamline processes and improve efficiency. However, from the perspective of an information professional, there are questions surrounding confidentiality, the volume of data, the accuracy of data and immutability. Assurances are required over controls and the impact of blockchain technology on the current and future workforce. The impact could be considerable and discussion surrounding adaptation, integration and the future of this technology should involve the information professional.