Blockchain Has a Perception Problem

By Tyler Kirk

The International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) just wrapped up a panel on “FinTech and the Transformation of Financial Services” here in Washington, DC. Presenting 4 propositions, the IMF invited the panelists and the audience to vote on whether they agreed or disagreed with each. Following the panel’s discussion on each proposition, the votes were compared. To the exclusion of all other Fintech topics, there was an almost singular focus on blockchain in each panelist’s response to the propositions. This focus by itself is illuminating, however the audience and the panel diverged dramatically on one proposition, whether FinTech will help rather than hinder regulation of AML and combatting the financing of terrorism (“CFT”). The panel agreed, 92% to 8%, that FinTech would assist with AML and CFT efforts. The audience was essentially split, agreeing 57% to 43%. Similarly, 40% of the audience believed FinTech posed a threat to financial stability while only 17% of the experts shared that view. The takeaway here is that, while those of us who are intimately familiar with this technology clearly understand its benefits, the general electorate does not. So, does Congress? Financial regulators? Now is the time to engage counsel and shape public policy.

Here are the results for all 4 propositions, with each paraphrased:

  Agree Disagree
1. AI will have a greater impact on financial services in the next 3 to 5 years than DLT.
Panel 27% 73%
Audience 23% 77%
2. FinTech will make banks obsolete or redundant.
Panel 25% 75%
Audience 18% 82%
3. FinTech will endanger the financial industry.
Panel 17% 83%
Audience 40% 60%
4. FinTech will help rather than hinder regulation of AML and CFT.
Panel 92% 8%
Audience 57% 43%

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