Trust is critical for business. Today, we trust banks to hold our money, e-commerce companies to deliver the products we buy online, and payment platforms to protect our transactions from fraud or misappropriation. The Accenture Technology Vision 2016 indicates that 83 percent of executives believe that trust is indeed the cornerstone of the digital economy. So what if trust were technologically embedded into the very nature of transactional activities?
Blockchain is a distributed (decentralized) digital network that enables the exchange of value or the ability to confidently share data—including financial assets and contracts—in a secure environment (see "What is blockchain?"). By design, blockchain builds trust into every transaction and shared data source, enabling greater security, cost efficiency and optimized reconciliation processes.
So far, blockchain has gained the most traction in the financial services industry. According to a report published by Santander InnoVentures last year, the technology could cut bank infrastructure costs for cross-border payments, securities trading and regulatory compliance by $15 billion to $20 billion a year by 2022. But blockchain also has the potential to become a general-purpose technology—a breakthrough, like the steam engine, electricity or the Internet, that changes how society and the economy work. The World Economic Forum has predicted that, by 2027, 10 percent of global GDP is likely to be stored on blockchain platforms.
As such, blockchain will alter traditional value chains, forcing stakeholders across all industries to rethink their roles in the not-so-distant future. What if you could unlock new revenue sources, sell to machines directly or shift your primary focus from operating to innovating? Major corporations like Citibank, Intel and Philips are already experimenting with the technology, and CEOs in every industry should consider the potential effects of blockchain in three critical areas: strategy, customers and operations.