Open-Source Operational Risk: Should Public Blockchains Serve as Financial Market Infrastructures?

Chapter in Handbook of Blockchain, Digital Finance, and Inclusion, Vol. 2, Eds. David Lee Kuo Chuen and Robert Deng, Elsevier (2017)

23 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2016 Last revised: 25 Oct 2017

Angela Walch

St. Mary's University School of Law; University College London - Centre for Blockchain Technologies

Date Written: December 2, 2016

Abstract

This chapter explores the operational risks raised by the use of common 'grassroots' open source software practices in public blockchains, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, in their potential role as financial market infrastructures. These practices include the informal software development process, problematic funding for software development, and the possibility of forking inherent to open source software. The paper argues that the risks raised by these practices significantly undermine public blockchains' suitability to serve as financial market infrastructures. Further, they herald the need to reevaluate the use of these practices outside the blockchain technology setting, in other critical infrastructures based on grassroots open source software.

Keywords: blockchain, distributed ledger technology, DLT, distributed ledger, Bitcoin, Ethereum, open source, open source software, software forks, risk, operational risk, financial market infrastructure, fintech, critical infrastructure

Suggested Citation

Walch, Angela, Open-Source Operational Risk: Should Public Blockchains Serve as Financial Market Infrastructures? (December 2, 2016). Chapter in Handbook of Blockchain, Digital Finance, and Inclusion, Vol. 2, Eds. David Lee Kuo Chuen and Robert Deng, Elsevier (2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2879239

Angela Walch (Contact Author)

St. Mary's University School of Law ( email )

One Camino Santa Maria
San Antonio, TX 78228-8602
United States

University College London - Centre for Blockchain Technologies ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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