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US Department of treasury still doesn’t get it

In a post made on the fiscal.treasury.gov title Five Quick Takeaways on Blockchain, there are a number of things that the US Department of treasury just doesn’t seem to understand relating to blockchain technology.

In the post they claim the following:

To help you determine if blockchain is a potential solution, you can apply criteria to your use case. If you answer “yes” to several of these questions, a blockchain solution may be worth considering

We are going to review the questions and why some of them are flawed as well as review a few other topics posted within the article.

  • Do you need a structured central repository of information?

This is completely backwards for blockchain technology. The question should not be related to a structured central repository. In fact, a standard database would be a better use case for anyone answering yes.

The question should be Do you need a structured decentralized repository of information?.

If a decentralized solution is needed this means those who have access to the data need a trusted ledger solution to ensure no one is cheating or manipulating ledgers. This is one of the key aspects of blockchain technology so a centralized repository is a non-factor for blockchain technology.

  • Is more than one entity reading or writing transactions to a database?

This may be important, but doesn’t really explain enough about the details. A database such as sql can allow multiple parties and applications to write to the same database.

As with the first question, it’s about whether that data needs to be immutable, meaning no one can change or alter the data after it is written to the database.

  • Is there less than total trust between parties/entities in the ecosystem? (for example, one user will not accept the “truth” as reported by another user)

Actually the opposite of this more true. If there is total trust between parties, they should have no issues with a blockchain, because total trust should never exist without proof of that trust. Even if all parties believe there is a total trust taking place, it doesn’t mean it is.

As human’s we are prone to telling lies. Every organization and business is susceptible to false truth because of the human factor, so anytime there is trust involved, whether people are distrusting or trusting of other parties, there is a need for blockchain.

  • Are central gatekeepers introducing costs and /or “friction” when verifying transactions (for example, manual verification)?

This is actually a fair question. Anytime the word central comes up, decentralization is needed.

  • Are there routine or logical interactions that occur that could be programmed to self-execute (for example, smart contracts)?

This is another good question, but it should also be noted that this may need some outside the box thinking. There are often times a self executing smart contract could replace things that are overlooked as having the ability to self execute.

Businesses will always prefer to use a self executing contract because it will eliminate employee’s and thus save money.

However there are times that a self executing contract could replace an entire business model, and businesses are going t o be less likely to want to implement such contracts. What business or agency wants to make themselves obsolete – especially when talking about government agencies.

After these 5 questions were posted, in a second headline a very interesting statement was made.

Interviewing stakeholders also allows you to understand aspects of a process or practice that people think are working well. Documenting these pain points (and good points) will help in developing user stories that will be used to build your blockchain application.

This is interesting because it posed an overlooked reason for a blockchain. Documenting the pain points and the good points of those being interviewed. Having documentation of everyone’s views on a public ledger, could eliminate confusion, misunderstanding, overlooking, or otherwise eliminating any “he said/she said” disagreements in the future.

The last headline of the document also brought up some interesting statements, that are also problem points the government agencies don’t seem to grasp and understand.

There is no way to sugar coat it – agency governance processes can be time-consuming. But preparing for and presenting your project in front of your investment review and technical review boards can bring to light perspectives or issues you haven’t considered.

Building enough time into your project plan to present and explain blockchain technology in clear, easy-to-understand terms will help you plan for, and move through the process swiftly.

Whereas this statement is a good idea, it’s not always as easy as they seem to want it to be. By presenting projects to agency governance processes you put your project at risk. Further many projects in this space are solely based on complex mathematical equations and there is no easy way to try to explain mathematics to politicians.

This can lead to projects being misunderstood and closed down for no other reason that one brought attention to them in the first place. A prime example of this would be bitcoin itself.

Had anyone actually tried to bring bitcoin in front of an agency, they would have most likely stopped it before it ever started, because the truth is anything that may jeopardize the future of control a government or agency holds, is not going to be welcome with open arms.

Overall the article is a good start to the treasury department understanding blockchain, but it is exactly that, just a start. They still have a lot to learn and understand about decentralization within blockchain technology – and that seems to be a topic they want to avoid understanding for their own self-regulating interests.

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