The Promises and Limitations of Blockchain: Taking Stock and Lessons Learned

Joyce J Shen

Blockchain is viewed by many as big as, or even bigger than, the development of the Internet. Blockchain technology and its applications have been evolving rapidly. A number of factors have contributed to both the advancement of this technology and the quick build-out and iteration of applications in financial services and other industries. This chapter will provide a survey of key activities in blockchain in terms of venture capital, the developer community, market infrastructure and governmental initiatives. It will look in-depth at each of these activities and how they strategically contribute to a complex and rapidly evolving technology stack. Finally, the chapter will explore what it might take for blockchain technology to fulfil its promise.


With regard to funding, institutional venture capital and corporate ventures have been very active. According to the World Economic Forum, approximately US$1.4 billion was invested into blockchain between 2013 and 2016 (World Economic Forum, 2016). While many of the investments in 2013 and 2014 were Bitcoin start-ups, since 2015 many of the venture investments have been increasingly oriented toward blockchain-enabled

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