The idea of ​​the chancellor's blockchain is a desperate headache of the Brexit cane


Knowing only a little bit about the complexity of Brexit, but rather about the overwritten financial technology, we should guess that the former is not going too well. The reason is a statement by Phillip Hammond, chancellor of the company, reported Monday by Reuters:

"There's technology available (…) I do not pretend to be an expert on it, but the most obvious technology is blockchain," Hammond told the question about how the government could get regular business after Brexit .

The problem is the Irish border. The post-war agreement in Northern Ireland is based in part on a smooth and friction-free relationship with its southern neighbor, which in turn has relied on both parties belonging to the European Union. Brexit threatens to cancel this agreement.

If the UK leaves the EU completely, or will rely on the rules of the World Trade Organization in a scenario of non-agreement, a difficult (unpopular) border must emerge if Northern Ireland flanks. Or there must be some sort of special status for Northern Ireland, which fragments the United Kingdom. Either the UK post-Brexit report with the EU must be close to what is pre-Brexit. (Martin Sandbu is the obligator to read everything).

It is sure that the technology used at the border is a red herring, because even the best database can not stick its nose into a truck. Here, for example, one of the IT experts quoted in the Irish Times calls the idea of ​​technological solutions to the border question "total absurdity":

"It's one of these things that if people say it often enough, they start to look like something that could work," said Sadhbh McCarthy, who set up and led the Irish and European Security Center (CIES).

"If the border problems were so easy to solve, do you think the United States, with all its resources, was considering the possibility of building a great wall with Mexico?", Added McCarthy, who also held • Chief Executive Officer at the European Biometrics Forum. and in numerous IT roles with the likes of IBM and Diageo.

Wired also examined technological solutions to handle 6,000 heavy vehicles a day crossing the border and decided they were "untested or imaginary". Blockchain as a border solution is both.

So what inspired Hammond to jump on the bandwagon? It could have been a "white paper" literally called "Blockchain for Brexit", published last week by Reply Ltd, a consulting firm that promised a "solution that could save billions of global pounds through controls without borders and virtually foolproof tracking systems" for their goods ".

Or maybe he spent time with Tory Grant Shapps, Michelle Mone, Damien Moore, and Eddie Hughes, nonsense fans of nonsense.

David Cameron (pictured here from Alphaville to a bitcoin wallet envelope-opening opening party of the office in February 2017) could also be a role model:

The fact is that a shared registration system for online payments is not the same as an "infallible tracking system" for goods. A blockchain, in its purest form, is a bit of energy-intensive, slow and cumbersome technology that tracks cryptocurrency transactions. But that "currency" is nothing but a series of figures. It does not exist outside the Internet. To track goods digitally, you must somehow "render them" and trust that tokens represent physical assets. Blockchain can not do it.

It is also very unclear what "blockchain technology" actually refers to. Outside the world of cryptocurrency, its essential characteristics have been reduced to making the term meaningless. The only common definition is a "distributed ledger technology", which replaces only an incomprehensible bit of jargon with another.

The chancellor might have stumbled upon it, because so many companies are throwing money, but maybe someone could let him know that the effort was long enough to produce experts willing to say that the Emperor has no clothes. Here, for example, is Angus De Crespigny, who has spent the past four years consulting the blockchain and crypto activities at EY, but has now stopped:

While there is certainly a disconnection between business processes and technology, rather than limiting the development of business cases, I believe it has actually led to the opposite problem: unjustified beliefs and hype of what technology can do.

This is taken from a piece published by Coindesk last week, in which he explained why he had "lost faith". De Crespigny also argued that the benefits of the often cited blockchain, such as encrypted data, automated reconciliation and almost instantaneous data transfer and tracking, can be achieved with existing database systems.

Perhaps all a bit technical and complex for a chancellor who is not an expert in these things. But this paragraph could resonate:

A somewhat different vision that I have heard is that blockchain technology is the future, and therefore while we can not quantify the benefits, it is worth moving on to the new paradigm to keep up with the curve.

When the world is crumbling around you, it's worth staying ahead of the curve.

So even if this elusive blockchain technology could provide a "virtually infallible" tracking system for assets (it can not), it does not begin to solve the problem of how to separate one member country of one trade union from another that does not it is, when both sides want a fluid edge. More than two years after the referendum, with the analytical weight of the public administration behind him, the Chancellor clings to straws in the wind.

Related links:
Theresa May must make a choice with respect to autonomy or access to markets – FT
The Brexit threatens the end of the era of "civilization" of Northern Ireland – FT
Sell ​​all crypto and leave the whole blockchain – FT Alphaville
The insiders blockchain tell us why we do not need blockchain – FT Alphaville

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