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Towards a framework for the evaluation and design of distributed ledger technologies in banking and payments

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This paper provides insights into practical issues in the deployment of public and private distributed ledger technologies in banking and payment systems and conceptualises a framework for the evaluation of existing solutions and the design of new solutions in terms of practical utility and feasibility. The research approach entails the analytical examination of open questions solved by the decentralised concept of Bitcoin as well as explicit and implicit assumptions made by its underlying blockchain technology. The paper then proceeds to shed light on limitations arising from these assumptions when considering the practical implementation of industry-strength applications in the payments industry as well as in banking in general. Based on this discussion and decades of practical experience in processing billions of transactions in compliance with regulatory and legislative requirements, we identify seven classes of open issues: (1) efficiency concerning production costs and scalability; (2) speed of transaction confirmation; (3) finality or compliance to principles of accounting; (4) link to the ‘real’ world exemplified by settlement in central bank money; (5) resilience and governance model; (6) roll-out in a network industry; and (7) the issue of ‘smart contracts’. The paper thus contributes to theory and practice by providing a framework for the evaluation of existing technologies and for the design of new distributed ledger technologies in terms of its practical utility and feasibility.
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Keywords: Bitcoin; blockchain; distributed ledger technology; payment systems

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Payments Strategy & Systems publishes peer-reviewed articles and case studies analysing best practice, emerging issues and new thinking in how to develop a profitable, customer-focused payments strategy. It examines major issues facing the corporate, wholesale and retail payments industry from a business, risk and operational perspective.

    Edited by renowned payments expert Alec Nacamuli and guided by an eminent Editorial Board, each quarterly 100-page issue provides practical, detailed analysis of developments and trends in the payments business, regulation, new entrants and technologies and how to bring them all together to define your payments strategy, as well as actionable advice and ‘lessons learned’ from fellow professionals on how payment processing systems can be leveraged to maximise profitability, security and efficiency and minimise risk. It contains no advertising and no advertorial.

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