During Bitcoin Wednesday on 7 November, 2018, Professor Michael Mainelli of Z/Yen will give a presentation on governance, regulation, and standards for decentralized smart ledgers. Z/Yen is a London-based think-tank and venture firm that produces the Distributed Futures (smart ledger) and Eternal Coin (new currencies) research programs. They also conduct research for the Cardano Foundation, among other organizations.
Since before the time of the Sumerians, ledgers have been one of civilization’s essential mechanisms to prevent cheating. Ledgers maintain a record of transactions. For example, they can be used for tracking real estate, financial or social activity. Traditionally, a central third party preserves the ledger’s integrity; it protects the transaction history from being changed, and adds new ‘validated’ transactions. However, successful central third parties often become natural monopolies, exposing them to two temptations, corruption and indolence.
Smart Ledgers are multi-organizational databases with a super audit trail and some embedded code. Smart Ledgers handle many of the processes of safeguarding and preservation of the transaction history through technology, which potentially reduces the ‘switching costs’ for users who want to move to a new central third party. Both the technology and the lower switching costs reduce the likelihood of overly powerful natural monopolies.
Smart Ledgers are the ‘next big thing’ in technology. They represent a technology for fair play in a globalized world as they provide our international ICT infrastructure with an ‘Internet of Record’. They are already being used for identity, documentation, and agreement exchange. These applications, perhaps much more than payments, are why Smart Ledgers are important both technologically and economically.
Michael’s talk will provide examples from other industries: While the financial sector overly focuses its attention on the use of smart ledgers for payments, Michael will show how commercial firms are already using these structures in many other ways. He will end his presentation with some speculation on how indemnities and insurances could play an increasingly important role in helping society gain from the identity, documentation, and agreement exchange potential of Smart Ledgers.
In addition to his role as Executive Chairman of Z/Yen Group, Professor Michael Mainelli is an accountant, securities professional, computer specialist, and management consultant, educated at Harvard University and Trinity College Dublin. He earned his PhD at London School of Economics where he was also a Visiting Professor. He began his career as a research scientist, and later became an accountancy-firm partner and director of Ministry of Defence Research. He co-founded Z/Yen in 1994 while working in merchant banking.
Z/Yen advises numerous firms globally, including strategic advice for financial information services firms such as Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg, technology firms in investment analytics, major exchanges, numerous investment banks, and insurers looking at gambling models for event insurance or weather. He has led Z/Yen from creating smart ledgers through work with the Financial £aboratory, Taskforce 2000, Long Finance and The London Accord, Global Financial Centres Index, Global Green Finance Index, and Global Intellectual Property Index. He is an Alderman of the City of London, Emeritus Professor at Gresham College, Fellow of Goodenough College, and Master of the Worshipful Company of World Traders. His third book, “The Price of Fish: A New Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions”, won the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards Finance, Investment & Economics Gold Prize.