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British blockchain industry

Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency, has real potential to disrupt industries and the UK has a chance to regain leadership in this market, according to a new report.

The report from the Digital Catapult, the UK’s advanced digital innovation centre, underlines the potential impact of distributed ledger technologies (DLT) on UK businesses, and has discovered what it describes as a ‘vibrant ecosystem’ active across a wide range of sectors, with British companies at different stages of development and numerous industry-spanning applications to help lower costs, enable more efficient public services and improve supply chain traceability.

After a difficult start – Bitcoin’s early associations with the dark web and very few examples of DLT in use outside of cryptocurrency – the UK became a globally recognised leader in DLT in 2015. During the intervening three years, however, rapid changes have seen the UK’s early lead slip behind China, Singapore, Malta and the USA, countries which have been more agile in their approach in supporting DLT pioneers.

Today Bitcoin may appear to have entered what some describe as a ‘death spiral’, with prices plummeting since early November, but this report, ‘Blockchain in Action: State of the UK Market’, having surveyed over 260 UK DLT companies, highlights the opportunities from adopting blockchain and other DLT.

The report shows how re-capturing the early promise, and smoothing out the road to success, could help to push the UK back into a leadership position.

According to Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult, active steps to improve the understanding of DLT in multiple sectors for the wider benefit of the UK economy is required. “To do that, and encourage further adoption of this technology, we must dispel the myths, cut through the hype, and educate organisations outside of the financial services sector to the varied applications of DLT and how we can help them to de-risk innovation.”

To support the development of DLT a new initiative from Digital Catapult – DLT Field Labs - that brings together technology businesses, industry partners and researchers to deploy and test the latest distributed ledger technology in real world, has been launched.

Companies looking at DLT are having to engage with an unclear and fragmented regulatory landscape, as well as damaging preconceptions about the viability of their sector and a lack of authoritative legal advice.

This initiative should be welcomed as a chance to explore the practical applications and benefits of using blockchain.

Neil Tyler

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