Blockchain’s Future: Can the Decentralised Blockchain Community Succeed in Creating Standards?

16 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2019 Last revised: 17 Sep 2019

See all articles by Adrian McCullagh

Adrian McCullagh

Griffith Law School

John Flood

Griffith University; Queensland University of Technology; Centre for Blockchain Technologies

Date Written: June 14, 2019


Nakamoto proposed a new solution to transact value via the internet. And since 2009 blockchain technology has expanded and diversified. It has, however, proven to be inefficient in the way it achieves its outcomes, especially through the proof of work protocol. Other developers are promoting alternative methods but, as yet, none has superseded proof of work. The competing protocols illuminate a key feature of the blockchain community, namely, its inability to create consensus in a decentralised community. Because of this lack of consensus the formation of standards is particularly difficult to achieve. We examine three areas where some form of agreement over standards will be essential if blockchain is to evolve successfully. These three areas are blockchain governance, smart contracts, and interoperability of blockchains. We argue that because standards formation is such contested process the blockchain community will persist in creating difficulties for itself until it is able to overcome internal divisions.

Keywords: blockchain, standards, community, consensus, smart contracts, interoperability, governance

JEL Classification: O31, O33

Suggested Citation

McCullagh, Adrian and Flood, John A., Blockchain’s Future: Can the Decentralised Blockchain Community Succeed in Creating Standards? (June 14, 2019). Griffith University Law School Research Paper No. 19-09, Available at SSRN: or

Adrian McCullagh

Griffith Law School ( email )

Nathan Campus, GU
Nathan 4111

John A. Flood (Contact Author)

Griffith University ( email )

Nathan campus
Nathan, Queensland 4111

HOME PAGE: http://

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000

Centre for Blockchain Technologies ( email )

UCL CBT UCL Computer Science
Malet Place London WC
London, London WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom


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