On 12 July 2018 the GI Hub’s COO, Mark Moseley, joined a webinar panel on blockchain and its applications for infrastructure, hosted by the International Project Finance Association (IPFA). Blockchain is the technology that underpins Bitcoin and other similar ‘cryptoassets’, such as Ethereum and Ripple. Its potential, and the recent volatility of cryptoassets, has made the technology one of the most hyped and misunderstood technologies in the market. As highlighted by the panel, emerging technologies going through a stage of being overhyped is not neew, and the panel drew several analogies to other technologies that went through similar phases, including during the early days of the internet, noting that this is part of the evolution and development of a nascent technology.
The panel was tasked with considering the possible applications for blockchain technology in infrastructure as well as the challenges. The panellists were in strong agreement on one key point: blockchain may be a relatively new technology technology, but the scope of its potential application is great. The panel approached the question from several angles, highlighting the technology’s potential application in the supply chain and financial markets, as well as its early adoptions in the energy sector. Mr Moseley specifically highlighted the GI Hub’s focus on developing a ‘Smart Infrabond’ to help to open up financial markets in infrastructure to more investors and create efficiency and greater liquidity. For a detailed discussion on the GI Hub’s ‘Smart Infrabond’ concept, see Mark Moseley’s blog on the topic.
The panel also highlighted some of the challenges to adoption including the need to reconcile the use of the technology with existing regulatory arrangements, and the processes for managing disputes, especially in regard to disputes arising in the context of automated contractual mechanisms, (i.e. smart contracts). Specifically on the topic of disputes, the panellists noted that the inherent transparency of blockchain technology has the potential to have a strong positive impact on minimising disputes, though disputes will still arise, and smart contracts will typically need to exist alongside traditional contractual arrangements to manage those disputes.
IPFA members can access the full recording here.