Trust unbundled: The promise and threat of blockchain

Written on Sep 14, 2017

By Gary Hunt, senior content editor

In recent weeks we’ve discussed how blockchain technology isn’t likely to cause immediate changes in accounting, how it might improve security and why it might be a source of anxiety for some CPAs.

In the conclusion of our conversation on blockchain technology, Ryan Watson, CPA, principal at Upsourced Accounting and Xero ambassador, said it “unbundles trust.”

“It's this idea that we have these organizations whose job it is to be a clearing house for trust,” Watson said in the latest episode of OSCPA Spotlight. When it comes to the accounting profession, “what is ultimately our jobs from an assurance perspective around the public markets? It's adding a layer of trust.

“And so, the promise of blockchain is that it unbundles trust in a way that says we don't need a third party to come in and validate that this particular thing occurred,” he said. “The technology does that by default.”

Sounds scary. So – again – we refer you to Episode I and Episode II of this discussion. But a new development that offers, as Watson said, “a higher degree of validity than a notary” is nevertheless likely to spark change.

Watch this episode now to hear Watson explain why he thinks the idea of unbundling trust around accounting transactions “holistically” is unlikely, and “is a bridge too far.” Also, catch Watson’s presentation, “The Connected Advisor: ReTooling with Technology,” this fall at the OSCPA accounting shows in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.


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  1. ghunt | Sep 15, 2017
    Jennifer, thanks for reading! I think what Ryan was saying is this: We pay to acquire a certain degree of trust in some transactions, notaries being the example he mentions. Trust is "bundled" with that job and with that expense. What happens when technology fulfills that role in a way some are saying is MORE trustworthy than the old way? What are the unintended consequences in a world where notaries are, perhaps, obsolete? I don't think you have to go too far down that road to see the potential for disruption in business. That's the takeaway, and I agree it's more a question than an answer now.
  2. Jennifer | Sep 14, 2017
    I'm not sure what on earth "Unbundling" Trust is supposed to mean???  Trust is a feeling.  A belief.  (Honestly this sounds to me like techno-babble and psycho-babble just had a baby they named "unbundled trust").  Using nonsensical jargon like this that is intended to scare people about the future can do more to undermine the trust of our profession than any emerging technology.  In future please give us updates about technology that we can actually use to explain how the technology may impact our clients not just articles designed to gain clicks. (i.e. This CPA would like an actual "Takeaway")

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