Accenture tinkers with blockchain

blockchainAccenture is changing a feature of blockchain by patenting a system that will allow data processed and stored using the technology to be edited.

This will effectively kill off a defining feature of the technology which makes it impossible to change. The consultancy said data would only be edited under “extraordinary circumstances,” to resolve fat-finger-type human errors and meet legal and regulatory requirements and address wrongdoing.

Obviously some blockchain users thought this idea was pants.  Blockchain is the latest investment by the financial services industry in the nascent technology, which promises to cut costs, reduce settlement times and increase transparency.

Normally the blockchain underpinning digital currency bitcoin is kept secure by data being shared across a global network of computers, which are incentivized by competing to win new bitcoins by data “mining”.

Technologists say that not being able to edit the technology makes blockchain unique and that without it, the term becomes meaningless.

Gary Nuttall, founder of blockchain consultancy Dislytics said that an editable blockchain was just a database. The whole thing about blockchain is that it’s immutable, so this just defeats the object.”

Because so-called “permissionless” blockchains like bitcoin’s have no centralized authority, it is essential that transactions cannot be tampered with.

Accenture claimed its prototype would be for the private “permissioned blockchains” favoured by banks, which would have designated administrators who manage the network under agreed governance rules.

Richard Lumb, Accenture’s group chief executive for financial services said that for financial services institutions faced with a myriad of risk and regulatory requirements, absolute immutability is a potential roadblock.