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The continued development of blockchain technologies by banks and other commercial organizations for potential non-bitcoin uses has opened an intense public discussion. On BankThink and social media sites, techies and finance pros are debating whether financial intermediaries can and even should harness an innovation that was designed for a decentralized, trustless digital currency. Here is a sample of the debate.
Related: Blockchains and Shared Ledgers: A Banker's Guide (research report)
Different Chains for Different Pains
In a November BankThink post, Tim Swanson, the director of market research at R3 CEV, took issue with those who dismiss the practical appeal of blockchains controlled by private entities. "Some bitcoin enthusiasts assert that non-bitcoin blockchains are all the same and that 'permissioned' blockchains – or blockchains that gate transaction validation – are not much different than relational databases mixed with snake oil," Swanson wrote. "The problem with this broad generalization is that it does not distinguish between what each project, startup and effort in the overall space is trying to do. It lumps them all together without bothering to distinguish the potential customers and problem sets these projects are addressing."