Should Accountants Care About Blockchain?
34 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2019 Last revised: 11 Mar 2020
Date Written: September 16, 2019
The use of blockchain technology has increased tremendously over the last decade. Blockchain continues to evolve and new features and capabilities are developed continuously. Although the use of the technology started in cryptocurrency (specifically, Bitcoin) it has expanded to other areas that can benefit from a shared, secure, ledger. This paper investigates the potential impact of blockchain technology on the accounting profession. The paper analyzes data security and privacy considerations, technology, adoption and implementation considerations, and some considerations that relate specifically to accounting and auditing. We find that the unique needs of an accounting information system may not be a good match for blockchain as it currently exists. While we explain that blockchain may deliver many benefits, particularly in the areas of data reliability and the financial statement audit, we identify several factors which raise significant questions about whether blockchain will ever be significantly integrated in the accounting function. Chief among those concerns is the scalability of the technology at an acceptable cost. While significant investment has and will be made for further development of blockchain business applications, it is our assessment that proponents of blockchain integration in accounting have not yet made the economic case for it. We also have significant concerns about whether blockchain technology can adequately address risks associated with data security and privacy. Addressing all these issues will be a minimum requirement for gaining widespread acceptance by firms and their accountants.
Keywords: blockchain; information technology adoption; distributed ledger; accounting information systems
JEL Classification: M40, O14, O33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation