Latest great post by Reuben Godfrey, our roving Bitcoin, Blockchain expert and enthusiast, reviewing the recent Chainsmiths #blockchainbreakfast, hosted by Kevin Loaec. See more articles by Reuben here. Image from Pixabay.

Blockchain? Not by the hairs on their chinny-chin-chins.

Observing the hype around blockchain and the potential impact on the finance industry recently I’ve been reminded of a familiar children’s story.. the tale of the Three Little Pigs. Blockchain is the wolf, huffing and puffing and making poetic, existential threats.. Bankers? Well, they’re the three little pigs. An organised cabal hunkering down reassuring each other with well practised mantras. At the risk of labouring the comparison, with each refinement of app developed on Blockchain the big banks have insisted that their house can withstand the storm.. all the while keeping an eye over their shoulder and gathering sticks and bricks to bolster their retreat.

Most major banks have begun to explore blockchain technologies but many seem to be missing the point.. they’ve reverted to type, wondering what’s in it for me and how can we be ahead of the curve..?? The thing is, when blockchain finally gets through this awkward adolescence there will be no need for banks, or bankers, as we know them today. There will be no inflation, no derivatives, no funneling funds off shore.. none of the flatulence that banks currently provide.

With the bitcoin civil war still raging and message-boards and news sources infiltrated by shills and sock-puppets (/r/bitcoin has more astroturf than the superbowl) the need for physical meetings and trusted advisers is growing. Last week Chainsmiths held a breakfast that served as a ‘Blockchain 101’. Aimed at banks and finance houses, the hour-long session gave a good overview of the history, current state-of-play and foreseeable ‘big-picture’ impact of the burgeoning technologies. MD Kevin Loaec did a good job in presenting a value-proposition for engaging his team. However, as I tweeted after the event, it was like watching a room full of canal magnates learning about the railroads; confused, alarmed and dismissive. Some of the younger attendees seemed genuinely interested and engaged but there was a smug-apathy amongst most of the more seasoned shirts there.

Then it occurred to me; most of these little-pigs have nothing to worry about, nor should they. Like the gut of seasoned pints-man, this fat won’t be shifted easily. The priority among bankers faced with this fintech revolution is to safeguard their-own immediate interests not to build a better World. These guys (mostly guys) finished top of their classes and went directly to the most profitable career they could; finance. Some probably considered medicine but that involves getting your hands dirty, after all.

More events are needed but I believe the focus must be taken away from converting the un-convertible. The beauty of blockchain is that you don’t need someone’s permission to play and banks, try as they might, cannot centralise the technology. As with other professions that have been hollowed-out by technology (accountancy, design, music production, photography) a career in finance is no-longer the banker it once was.

(I should mention, I have nothing against anyone that has chosen to work in this industry.. I don’t hate the players, I hate the game. Heck, some of my best friends are bankers.)

Back to the little pigs.. some will remember how this tale ends; the wolf, frustrated with being denied permission to enter the brick-house, shimmies down the chimney into a bubbling cauldron the canny final pig had left there in anticipation. With all the money [power] banks currently wield, will blockchain meet the same gruesome end? Only if we keep asking for permission.


Next time.. why is the insurance industry like Billy Goats Gruff?

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