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Blockchain: Virtues and Vices in the Cryptocurrency Realm

MIT Sloan Professor Simon Johnson, Faculty Chair of the MIT Sloan Fellows MBA program

According to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Blockchain Survey: Blockchain Gets Down to Business, the world’s most inscrutable technology is rapidly gaining traction in the enterprise sphere. Authors Linda Pawczuk, Jonathan Holdowsky, and Rob Massey note that business leaders are no longer asking whether blockchain will work—they’re asking how it can work for them. Their survey revealed that 86 percent of senior executives believe that blockchain will eventually achieve mainstream adoption, and a stunning 83 percent say their enterprises see a compelling business case for blockchain. On the cryptocurrency front, Facebook’s launch of Libra signals a belief in its ability to compete with established global currencies.

In researching this issue of the MIT Sloan Fellows MBA Program Newsletter, we found similar optimism around the future of blockchain. We pick up where we left off in our last issue, which was dedicated to non-currency models for blockchain, and delve deep into cryptocurrencies themselves. We have reached across the MIT Sloan Fellows network to get firsthand accounts from alumni and faculty who are researching or inventing with blockchain.

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Michael Casey explores how bitcoin fits into the history of currency—and what it means for the world’s five billion unbanked people. Silvana Lopez, SF ’16, cofounder and CEO of The Blockchain Challenge, takes up that theme and talks about how cryptocurrencies are pivotal to sustainable development. Jennifer Hongbo Jiang, SF ’17, explores trust issues regarding bitcoin, while Alin Dragos, SF ’17, head of strategic partnerships at the MIT Digital Currency Initiative, looks past bitcoin to a world with multiple cryptocurrency platforms. Prema Shrikrishna, SF ’17, illustrates how societies might correct imbalances of economic power through cryptocurrencies.

We’re already at work on the next issue, so enjoy your summer and know that a new set of intellectual adventures awaits you in the fall. If you’re not on the mailing list, you can right that wrong right now.

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