With a little help from the miners: distributed ledger technology and market disintermediation

Efpraxia D. Zamani (School of Computer Science and Informatics, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)
George M. Giaglis (Department of Management Science and Technology, Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Publication date: 9 April 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to argue for the role of the blockchain, i.e., distributed ledger technology, in building innovative business models, including machine money, autonomous economic agents and decentralised organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is conceptual/argumentative. As such, it draws on research on (e-)commerce, theories of markets, disruptive innovation and extant studies and conceptual work at the intersection of cryptocurrencies, machine-to-machine commerce and the Internet of Things.

Findings

The authors highlight three application areas for blockchains, whereby they can function as applications, can help develop autonomous economic agents and can lead the development of decentralised autonomous organisations. With regards to the question of market disintermediation, the authors suggest that, rather than complete disintermediation, the most probable scenario is that of new types of intermediaries finding previously unthinkable roles to play in mediating blockchain-based economic transactions. With regards to the inhibitors that slow down the technology’s adoption and, therefore, the development of new business applications, the authors posit that these relate mainly to the inherent risk of the technology, infrastructure requirements, scepticism of early decision makers and the lack of required new skills and competencies.

Originality/value

The authors examine how new forms of digital money and technologies embedding trust in decentralised networks will alter markets and commerce, at a time when many regulatory issues remain unresolved; in doing so, the authors focus on how blockchain-enabled technologies can be used to enable and further develop decentralised trusted peer-to-peer transaction ledger systems and applications and lead to sustainable business models.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research is partially funded by the Athens University of Economics and Business, through the “Action 2: Support for postdoctoral researchers” and the “Original Research Publications” research funding programs.

Citation

Zamani, E. and Giaglis, G. (2018), "With a little help from the miners: distributed ledger technology and market disintermediation", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 118 No. 3, pp. 637-652. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMDS-05-2017-0231

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Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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