2018 Annual Review

How would widespread adoption of blockchain affect your business?

With partners from Saïd Business School, we conducted blockchain scenario analyses with senior executives

Evangelists of blockchain technology say its effects on business could be as transformative as the internet has been. Yet most executives are still getting up to speed on blockchain. And many questions remain about the technology itself, such as: Can it work at scale? Is it secure? How will it be regulated?

To help GCs think through these and other issues, we hosted an event that focused not only on blockchain fundamentals but also on how the technology could affect their businesses. The event was co-facilitated by experts from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

Hosted in London by White & Case’s co-head of financial institutions, the seminar featured a wide range of both White & Case lawyers and external experts, including a leading QC, the CEO of a blockchain company and the UK prime minister’s fintech ambassador. Participants came from a wide range of global corporations, financial institutions and industry bodies.

The sessions on scenario analysis were a highlight of the event. One scenario, which was called “Regulatory Patchwork,” involved the widespread adoption of blockchain technology in the context of rising global populism. In this scenario, blockchain policies and regulations are fragmented across regions and countries, and markets increasingly favor “borderless tech” that effectively sets policy itself.

Another scenario, called “Blockchain-Powered Nation,” involved widespread adoption in a world where China leads in the development of blockchian technology and creates state-sponsored infrastructure for economic and political exchange. In this scenario, the Chinese platform is so much more sophisticated than other platforms that many of the world’s largest corporations shift their attention to building their most complex and lucrative services on top of it.

Participants considered a number of questions, including: How does the scenario challenge
your current assumptions? What risks and opportunities would it present? What capabilities would your organization need to develop to address them? And what would you do right now if you knew the scenario would come to pass?

The event reinforced our conviction that the ability to imagine alternative futures is a critical skill in an era when disruption is the norm and the pace of change continues to accelerate.


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