Beyond Bitcoin: Leveraging Blockchain to Benefit Business and Society

TRANSACTIONS: THE TENNESSEE JOURNAL OF BUSINESS LAW, 2019

University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming

73 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2019

Date Written: August 27, 2019

Abstract

Although many people equate blockchain with bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts, the technology also has the potential to transform the way companies look at governance and enterprise risk management, and to assist governments and businesses in mitigating human rights impacts. This Article will discuss how state and non-state actors use the technology outside of the realm of cryptocurrency. Part I will provide an overview of blockchain technology. Part II will briefly describe how public and private actors use blockchain today to track food, address land grabs, protect refugee identity rights, combat bribery and corruption, eliminate voter fraud, and facilitate financial transactions for those without access to banks. Part III will discuss key corporate governance, compliance, and social responsibility initiatives that currently utilize blockchain or are exploring the possibilities for shareholder communications, internal audit, and cyber security. Part IV will delve into the business and human rights landscape and examine how blockchain can facilitate compliance.

Specifically, we will focus on one of the more promising uses of distributed ledger technology – eliminating barriers to transparency in the human rights arena thereby satisfying various mandatory disclosure regimes and shareholder requests. Part V will pose questions that board members should ask when considering adopting the technology and will recommend that governments, rating agencies, sustainable stock exchanges, and institutional investors provide incentives for companies to invest in the technology, when appropriate. Given the increasing widespread use of the technology by both state and non-state actors and the potential disruptive capabilities, we conclude that firms that do not explore blockchain’s impact risk obsolescence or increased regulation.


Keywords: blockchain, bitcoin, smart contract, government, land registry, provenance, disclosure, ethereum, UN, human rights

Suggested Citation

Narine Weldon, Marcia and Epstein, Rachel, Beyond Bitcoin: Leveraging Blockchain to Benefit Business and Society (August 27, 2019). TRANSACTIONS: THE TENNESSEE JOURNAL OF BUSINESS LAW, 2019; University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3443675 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3443675

Marcia Narine Weldon (Contact Author)

University of Miami School of Law ( email )

1311 Miller Drive
Miami, FL 33146

Rachel Epstein

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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