OECD Secretary General Calls Blockchain an “Unprecedented Technological Revolution”

Speaking at the very first OECD Blockchain Policy Forum taking place in Paris this week, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria opened the conference calling blockchain (or distributed ledger technology) an “unprecedented technological revolution.”

The Forum saw the participation of multiple public officials including the Premier of Bermuda – E. David Burt, the Prime Minister of Mauritius –  Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the Prime Minister of Serbia – Ana Brnabić and more.

Gurria said that blockchain possesses great potential, as well as some obvious limitations;

“Blockchain does have great potential to cut out the middle-man, drive efficiencies and bring about new ways of doing business across a range of sectors. For example, the World Bank has demonstrated this with its first globally issued blockchain-based bond, which has brought settlement times down from around five days to just a few seconds. Blockchain is also shaping up to be a valuable part of governments’ digital toolkit, and goes far beyond its common financial applications.”

Gurria noted that multiple countries are looking at how blockchain tech can improve the “transparency, accountability and efficiency of public services.”

“These efforts are all in their early stages, but the potential is clear. Blockchain is part of a wider digital economic transformation. Governments need to make sure they understand the technology and keep up to date with developments. However, many of blockchain’s current uses have also raised legal and regulatory issues that still require a ‘trusted third party’ – that is, government. In financial services and within the broader economy, governments have a clear role to play in making sure that markets are fair and orderly. They need to do this in a policy environment that also allows promising new innovations to develop.”

Gurria tied the emergence of blockchain technology to Bitcoin stating the creators ‘”sought to eliminate the need for trusted third parties in financial transactions,” adding that this event took place during the depth of the financial crisis. The OECD is seeking to help policymakers better understand the ongoing digital transformation “underpinned by new technologies like blockchain.”

Gurria closed by stating;

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented technological revolution. The potential gains can help us to make a quantum leap forward; equally, if we do not manage this transformation, it can significantly – even dangerously – disrupt our world.”

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