A new study into 43 blockchain solutions implemented in the international development sector revealed a zero percent success rate. It also found that blockchain vendors didn’t respond to requests for evidence of their solutions’ results.
BLOCKCHAIN STILL HAS MUCH TO PROVE
A team from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) examined 43 implementations of distributed ledger technology (DLT) across the sector. The various DLT projects covered a wide variety of tasks, and users included NGOs, contractors, and government agencies.
But the team found no evidence of success or even insight gained through the projects. They wrote:
We found a proliferation of press releases, white papers, and persuasively written articles. However, we found no documentation or evidence of the results blockchain was purported to have achieved in these claims.
When the team conducting the study reached out to several blockchain vendors directly, they faced a stony silence. None of them responded to requests to share data on program results, or MERL (monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning) processes.
Despite all the hype about how blockchain will bring unheralded transparency to processes and operations in low-trust environments, the industry is itself opaque.
While vendors are eager to push the value blockchain will add to a process, many clients do not know the questions to ask when assessing suitability.
EVERYONE’S A CRITIC
Critics claim that vendors oversell the benefits of blockchain technology and that underneath lies a simple database with scalability issues. Its adoption over other forms of data storage can be based on faith in the vendors’ claims.
However, even though the results in international development remain unproven, this does not mean blockchain is without value. The level of interest across many industries is unprecedented as investment grew by 316 percent in 2018, according to recent findings. But while the budgets of aid programs may preclude a thorough assessment of the benefits of distributed ledger technology, corporations throwing millions into R&D could yet yield some beneficial results and products.
Oil giants, BP and Shell, for example, are now using a blockchain solution to trade crude oil. Though, it remains to be seen if this experiment will bear fruit.
Nevertheless, there are apparently many players ‘hyping’ the benefits for personal gain, the benefits are clearly there to be ‘hyped.’