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Has blockchain found a use beyond crypto trading?

Has blockchain found a use beyond crypto trading?

PARIS — The bitcoin boom spawned new billionaires and videos of beach parties and Lamborghinis. The crypto crash has caused devastation for small investors and the bankruptcy of many businesses.

Blockchain technology underpins crypto and has been hailed as a world-changing innovation, but does it have any use beyond creating speculative financial instruments?

AFP asked crypto critic Stephen Diehl, author of the recently published “Popping the Crypto Bubble,” to apply the rule to some of the most popular claims about blockchain technology.


As tension and confusion engulfed the United States after the 2020 election, Mr. Changpeng Zhao, billionaire founder of crypto firm Binance, had a suggestion.

A “blockchain-based mobile voting app,” he tweeted, would mean “we won’t have to wait for results, or wonder about its validity.”

Fellow crypto-billionaire Vitalik Buterin replied that there were “significant challenges” but he thought it was “100% correct in direction”.

So far, experiments have been on a very small scale.

For Diehl, blockchain was more likely to introduce problems than to solve them.

“From the American perspective, each district runs its own voting program,” said.

“It is considered a characteristic because to corrupt an election, you would have to corrupt very many officials.

“Centralizing the voting system in one digital place would be quite risky – so all you have to do is corrupt the blockchain and you could corrupt democracy.”


At its core, the blockchain is a ledger, a way of storing transactions that is, according to fans, secure, transparent, and permanent.

These qualities have led countless enthusiasts to propose that technology could actually replace paper contracts for things like buying a home.

Mr Diehl said it was “absurd” that blockchain was “going back to things that were solved a millennium ago to justify its own existence”.

“It’s the system we’ve had since the Middle Ages – you have a government land registry, title and deed that are transferred when ownership changes,” he said.

“Blockchain doesn’t solve anything here.”


The blockchain was born out of a 2008 white paper on bitcoin, designed as an alternative to fiat currency.

The opening line reads: “A purely peer-to-peer version of e-money would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency. There are now over 10,000 more sitting on many different blockchains.

Big corporations are desperately looking for ways to accept crypto payments.

Mr. Diehl pointed out that crypto assets are speculative instruments that are not suitable for payments.

“When was the last time you paid for your coffee with Apple stock,” he asked.

“It just doesn’t happen. You want something that’s going to be stable so the price of your coffee will be the price of your coffee next week.”


Want to know where your mango comes from? Some supermarkets think the best way for you to find out is to access a blockchain-based system that can track fruits from the Central American tropics to your convenience store.

Walmart and Carrefour are among the companies announcing blockchain systems.

Carrefour told AFP earlier this year that shoppers could scan a QR code and find out where a range of products came from.

Stores hope blockchain will provide security, certainty and transparency.

Diehl pointed out that digital supply chain management has been around for years and is perfectly fine without blockchain.

“Blockchain doesn’t add any incorruptibility to the system,” he said, pointing out that people in the supply chain can lie on blockchain as easily as on any other platform.

“If I have a box of apples and I report that I put 100% in the truck, but take 50% out for myself, the blockchain is not going to prevent that.” AFP


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