Is blockchain becoming the new digital?

Is blockchain becoming the new digital?

Algorand Inc.’s Sean Ford discusses why firms must get onboard, or get left behind

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Blockchain has been eluding business leaders since its ideation. But Sean Ford, chief operating officer of Algorand Inc., the creators of the public permissionless Algorand blockchain platform, believes the technology has the power to totally disrupt the financial services industry. 

“Traditional finance products were created around centralised, physical institutions with geographical constraints that largely appeal to their local populations,” he explains. “They were created before significant technical advancements. As a result, there has been a lot of friction in traditional finance, behind the scenes and for customers.” 

This friction has caused these institutions to struggle with efficiency, costs and security. “It has created borders that prevent a lot of people from participating in financial prosperity,” says Ford. “Decentralised finance removes these borders to improve inclusion, access and efficiency.”

But blockchain itself has had to come a long way in recent years to facilitate this level of global inclusion and borderless operations. 

“Blockchain creators have struggled with the trilemma of making their solutions scalable, secure and decentralised,” Ford explains. “Before Algorand, you could only have two of the three, which made it difficult to ensure a solution’s efficacy. 

“We have designed our experiences to be simple and user-friendly. We want our protocol to feel familiar, in a bid to demystify blockchain.”  

Algorand’s simplicity and instant veri­fication have helped to enhance attitudes towards the technology. 

“Institutions didn’t want to degrade the user experience from those offered by more traditional organisations and products,” says Ford. “There wasn’t a blockchain that could deliver those transfer speeds until Algorand. With our platform, transactions are completed and final in around four seconds – that’s pretty revolutionary.” 

Algorand and its employees are working to change widespread perceptions towards the cryptographic ledger technology, as they believe it could truly transform business processes. 

“Financial institutions need to get involved with blockchain if they want to ensure that they are well-positioned for competitive success in the future,” says Ford. “Companies that made the leap to digital in the noughties have seen unprecedented wins; everybody knows what Netflix is, while Blockbuster died. 

“Blockchain is something that people need to understand, and the industry needs to get better at explaining. It’s worth the investment because in two or three years, companies will look back and say, ‘Oh man, we have got some catching up to do.’” 

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issues delivered directly to your inbox.

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