What is happening in blockchain and crypto?

Ross Thompson, accountancy and finance lecturer at Arden University, gives us an update on where we’re at with regulation in crypto, what’s happening and why it is so important that our next generation of business leaders know all about it.

Crypto is not something that has been regularly featured in the news. Constant updates and regulatory changes aligned with general uncertainty has left many confused and unsure whether they should even toy with the idea of it at all.

What’s new?

While trading of cryptocurrencies is not directly regulated in Britain, offering services such as trading in cryptocurrency derivatives does require authorisation, which has in the past few months sparked discussion.

UK crypto asset firms (including recognised cryptocurrency exchanges, advisers, investment managers, and professionals) that have a presence or market product in the UK or provide services to UK resident clients must register with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and comply with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism regulations.

The Bank of England (BoE) does not consider cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to be money in the traditional sense. It is regarded as property, although there are many caveats to this: both the FCA and the BoE have guidelines for the use of cryptocurrencies, but these are quite vague and inconclusive.

In June 2021, the FCA took several actions, shifting the crypto and blockchain landscape in various areas, including both exchanges and cryptocurrency derivatives investing. These measures are focussed on organisations and do not clarify for individuals the legal ramifications of owning and using cryptocurrencies.

Why it is important for business leaders to be crypto-aware

Despite all the uncertainty around blockchain and crypto, we are still expecting to see a shift in its use. Nationwide supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and restaurants including Just Eat and Deliveroo are now accepting bitcoin as a way of buying a gift card via Bitpay. On the other side of the pond, AMC, Amazon and Tesla have expressed interest and future plans to embrace crypto.

Blockchain has a lot of potential and can infiltrate a variety of industries outside of banking and finance – from the property market to higher education institutions. The transparency and speed of blockchain can make property transactions – which often include copious amounts of paperwork, possible fraud, and errors in public records – more efficient, safer and easier.

Crypto also potentially eradicates the needs for banks and other intermediaries. Creating a currency unique to the university for its students to use, for example, could prevent grants and loans from being used for reasons outside a student’s university journey.

There are numerous examples that outline the potential and the shift in industry transactions that blockchain and crypto can bring – which is why students of today need to be learning about it.

Game changers are created by thinking ahead

In order to get ahead of the game and better realise, not only the benefits of blockchain but also the ways in which it will disrupt areas for clients and businesses, universities and education institutions need to be teaching students all about blockchain.

With an increasing number of companies now using blockchain to enhance business productivity and efficiency, the demand for analysts, programmers, and blockchain developers is rising every day. But it isn’t just about training students so the next generation can look after the mines and tech. As the technology becomes increasingly vast and popular, business leaders, accountants, lawyers and hospitality professionals – to name a few – will need to be aware of the possibilities blockchain presents.

By Ross Thompson

Ross Thompson is an experienced academic and management consultant, and he has held several senior roles in finance and marketing. A qualified company secretary, his research and consultancy interests encompass blockchain, graduate employability and corporate strategy.

 

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