With a little help from the miners: Distributed Ledger Technology and Market Disintermediation

Date

2018-04-09

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Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to argue for the role of the blockchain, i.e., distributed ledger technology, in building innovative business models, including machine money, autonomous economic agents and decentralised organisations.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper is conceptual/argumentative. As such, it draws on research on (e-) commerce, theories of markets, disruptive innovation and extant studies and conceptual work at the intersection of cryptocurrencies, M2M commerce and the internet of things.

Findings: We highlight three application areas for blockchains, whereby they can function as applications, can help develop autonomous economic agents, and can lead the development of decentralised autonomous corporations. With regards to the question of market dis-intermediation, we suggest that, rather than complete disintermediation, the most probable scenario is that of new types of intermediaries finding previously unthinkable roles to play in mediating blockchain-based economic transactions. With regards to the inhibitors that slow down the technology’s adoption and, therefore, the development of new business applications, we posit that these relate mainly to the inherent risk of the technology, infrastructure requirements, scepticism of early decision makers and the lack of required new skills and competencies.

Originality/value: We examine how new forms of digital money and technologies embedding trust in decentralized networks will alter markets and commerce, at a time when many regulatory issues remain unresolved; in doing so, we focus on how blockchain-enabled technologies can be used to enable and further develop decentralized trusted peer-to-peer transaction ledger systems and applications and lead to sustainable business models.

Description

This research has been partially funded by the Athens University of Economics and Business, through the “Action 2: Support for postdoctoral researchers” and the “Original Research Publications” research funding programs.

Keywords

blockchain, distributed ledger technology, disruptive technology, disintermediation, distributed autonomous corporations, smart contracts

Citation

Zamani, E.D. & Giaglis, G.M., (2018). With a little help from the miners: distributed ledger technology and market disintermediation. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 118(3), pp.637–652.

Rights

Research Institute

Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)