Together we can define the future of blockchain technology

By Hadley Stern

We are at the beginning of a transformational period in the evolution of blockchain technology, and financial services is squarely in the crosshairs. But what does the future look like?

Fidelity’s Journey

This week, Fidelity’s Chairman and CEO Abby Johnson delivered a keynote speech at Consensus 2017—the largest and most popular blockchain conference in the United States —where she discussed our experiences and challenges working in the blockchain space.

Abby explained that Fidelity has been exploring blockchain technology, including Bitcoin and Ethereum and other DLT technologies, for several years. In addition to our internal efforts, we partner with several academic institutions, including Harvard, MIT, and, most recently, IC3, to support the continued development and adoption of this technology.

One of the early learnings of our efforts was the emerging desire of some of Fidelity’s customers to use Bitcoin to contribute to charitable causes. In response to this need, Fidelity Charitable worked with Coinbase to enable individuals to contribute Bitcoin to their donor-advised fund account. To date, more than $8 million in donations have been made in Bitcoin.

Blockers

While we’ve been making strides, there are still challenges that are preventing the technology from moving forward. Abby acknowledged that we need to learn from and partner more broadly with our community, and asked people to reach out to Fidelity if they felt they could help to solve the following four roadblocks:

Technology
The blockchain technology could be truly revolutionary. But there are still some questions to be answered about the core technology and how it can be scaled as these systems grow.

Policy
Innovation in this space is fast-moving and is often outpacing regulation. It’s important that we find solutions and build products to protect customers’ interests and comply with regulation.

Control
Networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum by design have no formalized management structure. We want to collaborate with others to ensure that these systems grow with robust governance where needed.

Human
Blockchain was created for the people—let’s not forget that. However, we need to come up with systems and products that are more user-friendly and bring joy to our customers.

Here’s where you come in

As Abby told the audience at Consensus 2017, “what the internet did for the exchange of information is what blockchain has the potential to do for the exchange of value,” and collaboration within the community is key to building that future. If you have ideas on how we might solve any of the four blockers, we want to hear from you.

Photo courtesy of the Wall Street Journal