Bitcoinist recently spoke with Angus Champion de Crespigny, Financial Services Blockchain and Distributed Infrastructure Strategy leader at EY, the multinational professional services firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom. De Crespigny has established the firm’s first Digital Currency and Asset Technology group which consults businesses and financial institutions on blockchain and consensus technologies.
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Angus gives us an inside look at how he feels about private blockchains, the Bitcoin blockchain, and how these protocols will be transformative tools with financial sectors and other areas in society’s infrastructure.
“It’s been an exciting few years learning how this technology was going to disintermediate financial services to where we are now, where financial institutions are all in on this.”
Angus Champion de Crespigny On Blockchain Technology and Bitcoin
Bitcoinist: How did you first get involved with blockchain technology?
Angus Champion de Crespigny (ACdC): It was about three years ago when I read about the technology in some funny little column. It was interesting to see that it would manage to create this currency that relies solely on the internet. The more I read about it, the more it fascinated me. I was educated as a software engineer I developed a real-time cryptographic voice encryption device a master project. After that, I moved into financial services and regulatory compliance, and I started looking at the whole space. I could see that this technology was incredibly powerful, but there was a whole lot of obstacles by bringing into the real world.
It’s been an exciting few years learning how this technology was going to disintermediate financial services to where we are now where financial institutions are all in on this. We are still working on figuring out when that critical mass is going to hit. That’s a very brief history of how I got plugged into this technology.
“On the public side if there’s something in the digital world that you want to prove happened there is no better place to do that then on the Bitcoin blockchain. It’s the most secure network in that sense by a significant degree. There’s value in that.”
Bitcoinist: Do you believe legacy finance institutions are embracing blockchain because they think they may be disrupted?
ACdC: I believe there is an element of that. There’s also the element of ‘everyones looking at it and you would be silly not to’ as well. Let’s say some clearinghouses hear all this noise about this technology being able to disintermediate them, the exchanges, and intermediary market. To be one of these kinds of firms and not look at it would probably be unwise.
I think what we are seeing though is a lot of financial institutions looking at blockchain technology because it is good business practice to look at something that has this much hype about it. They are starting to see that rather than it being a threat it could be an enabler of great opportunity. The financial sector is a very complex sector, and it takes a lot of the time and effort it takes to clear and settle. The bulk of most issues come from operational or regulatory costs. So as the financial institutions are getting more familiar with it, they start seeing other opportunities it’s just a matter of how they make those opportunities real.
“There are certainly some things around it that could limit its growth and the ability to make difficult decisions with regards to the code may strengthen the network for key participants. There’s a lot of power in the network that should keep it going for quite some time.”
Bitcoinist: What is your opinion in regards to the attributes of permissionless and permissioned blockchain technology?
ACdC: I think there are strengths to both and I believe that you can’t say one is better. I think it would be unwise to say they both don’t have a place. I don’t think they are necessarily competitors or direct substitutes. Permissioned ledgers can be valuable tools essentially bringing together markets where the lines are clear of central intermediaries. One of the interesting things about trade and finance is because you got a series of chains where there no central party everyone can trust. But if you got this network which becomes that trusted central party, there is value there. Finding that value proposition is where we come in and consult our clients helping them work through the technology.
On the public side if there’s something in the digital world that you want to prove happened there is no better place to do that then on the Bitcoin blockchain. It’s the most secure network in that sense by a significant degree. There’s value in that.
Bitcoinist: Do you feel open blockchain protocols such as Bitcoin and Ethereum will remain in the industry as private blockchains become more popular?
ACdC: I think it would be unlikely for Bitcoin at this point to entirely die. There’s a lot of money invested in it and a lot of people using it in various ways. If it were to remain the dominant network or maybe Ethereum or something else were to be established at the moment that is too early to tell. I would be very surprised if Bitcoin were to disappear. There are certainly some things around it that could limit its growth, and the ability to make difficult decisions with regards to the code may strengthen the network for key participants. There’s a lot of power in the network that should keep it going for quite some time.
Bitcoinist: Between settlement, Internet of Things applications, supply management, and smart contracts what will be developed first in this industry?
ACdC: Things are starting off small with things that have been deployed and are functional. If you are looking at financial services then you are going to have large-scale adoption. However, it takes a very long time for systems in financial institutions to adhere to this technology. There’s a lot of financial businesses that are already technology companies with the amount of infrastructure they have so if you’re looking to change any of that it is a big project. People are seeing changes now and possible full-scale adoption in the next 2-4 years. Therefore it is highly possible that outside of financial institutions is when you are going to start to have significant adoption because you have less legacy infrastructure. Plus also you have less regulation in non-financial sectors.
Thank you, Angus, for speaking with us and letting us know about your background with this innovative technology.
What do you think about private and public blockchains? Are they competitors or meant to work together? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Linkedin, EY.