Whether you think of it as a distributed ledger, decentralized database, computing infrastructure, open source/ software development platform, cryptocurrency, transaction platform, or financial services marketplace, the bitcoin blockchain is driven by two key features: that it is a peer-to-peer network, and that it unbundles trust. Imagine moving from Googling for things to offering proof-as-a-service instead (which itself begins with rethinking identity).
In fact, there’s a lot of parallels — both in evolution and development — with the blockchain and the internet before it. Only the blockchain doesn’t need the web. And that has profound implications for what applications and new businesses are now possible, especially in financial services. But if “the worst place to develop a new business model is from within your existing business model”, then how can banks move beyond mere process innovations to offering entirely new services built on the blockchain? Many financial institutions are trying to get ahead of the blockchain disruption by exploring it proactively, but how do they overcome the innovator’s dilemma and looking at startups like animals in a zoo?
In this episode of the a16z Podcast, William Mougayar, the author of the new book The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology shares how traditional, established industries can overcome the innovator’s dilemma in this case; what the future of banks might be; and what new applications, services, and startups are possible due to the features — really, benefits — of the blockchain. Because the blockchain, ultimately, is an innovation platform.