Blockchain Disruption and Smart Contracts
51 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2017 Last revised: 21 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 10, 2018
Blockchain technology provides decentralized consensus and potentially enlarges the contracting space using smart contracts with tamper-proofness and algorithmic executions. Meanwhile, generating decentralized consensus entails distributing information which necessarily alters the informational environment. We analyze how decentralization affects consensus effectiveness, and how the quintessential features of blockchain reshape industrial organization and the landscape of competition. Smart contracts can mitigate informational asymmetry and improve welfare and consumer surplus through enhanced entry and competition, yet the irreducible distribution of information during consensus generation may encourage greater collusion. In general, blockchains can sustain market equilibria with a wider range of economic outcomes. We further discuss anti-trust policy implications targeted to blockchain applications, such as separating consensus record-keepers from users.
Keywords: Anti-trust, Cryptocurrency, Competition, Decentralization, Distributed Ledger, FinTech, Incomplete Contracts, Collusion, Information, Repeated Games.
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