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GAO Report on Blockchain as an Emerging Technology

GAO Report on Blockchain as an Emerging Technology

GAO Report on Blockchain as an Emerging Technology
Bill Kobren
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) yesterday issued a new report of potential interest entitled “GAO-22-104625 Blockchain: Emerging Technology Offers Benefits for Some Applications but Faces Challenges”.

According to the GAO, “…blockchain combines several technologies to provide a tamper-resistant record of transactions between parties without a central authority, such as a bank. Although cryptocurrency is the best-known use, blockchain has potential non-financial uses. For example, it could be used to manage supply chains, create less hierarchical organizations, and document real estate title transfers. This report also highlights potential benefits and challenges of blockchain. Data privacy, energy consumption, and regulatory uncertainty are key concerns. We present policy options for oversight, standard-setting, and more. There are potential applications for blockchain in supply chains, financial services, digital IDs, and more.”

They went on to observe that “…economies rely on central authorities and trusted intermediaries to facilitate business transactions. Blockchain is a technology that could reduce the need for such entities while establishing a system of verification. It might therefore improve a variety of financial and non-financial applications. However, the use of blockchain technologies raises a variety of ethical, legal, economic, and social concerns. GAO was asked to conduct a technology assessment on the use of blockchain, with an emphasis on foresight and policy implications. This report discusses (1) non-financial applications of blockchain, including potential benefits and challenges, (2) financial applications of blockchain, including potential benefits and challenges, and (3) policy options that could help enhance benefits or mitigate challenges of blockchain technologies. GAO assessed blockchain applications developed for or used in finance, government, supply chain management, and organization management; interviewed a range of stakeholder groups including government, industry, academia, and a venture capital firm; convened a meeting of experts in collaboration with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and reviewed key reports and scientific literature. GAO is identifying policy options in this report.”