RAND Report: Timing Essential for Blockchain Standards

The European wing of the RAND Corporation, a US think tank, has argued for a slow-and-steady process for developing possible blockchain standards.

AccessTimeIconOct 25, 2017 at 9:58 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:04 a.m. UTC

The European wing of the RAND Corporation, a US think tank, has argued for a slow-and-steady process for developing possible standards around blockchain.

In a new report published on October 18 and prepared for the British Standards Institution (BSI) – the world’s first group of its kind and the official standards body for the United Kingdom – the think tank identified several areas that could be the target for standards developers. In RAND's view, the potential opportunities that blockchain offers are "vast" despite the "many challenges to contend with."

That said, the report’s authors also caution that the sector may be too nascent at this time to justify a serious investment of time by either governments or private-sector business.

The report also cautions that the sector may not be far enough along to justify a serious investment of time by businesses or government. Further, it reckons that "the timing for developing and introducing standards (which may build on existing standards) is critical," advocating for a not-too-early but not-too-late approach.

"An intervention that occurs too early could run the risk of locking in stakeholders to solutions that, in the long run, might not be the most effective and, in the process, potentially stifle innovation," the report states. "A standards strategy that occurs too late with regard to a technology potentially risks missing opportunities to maximise the benefits the technology could deliver."

Caution aside, the report details the areas in which standards could be applied, including interoperability, data privacy and identity, among others.

With the report, RAND – which receives some of its funding from the U.S. military and works for a variety of government agencies and private businesses within Europe – becomes the latest group to advocate for the development of standards (albeit on a perhaps longer timeline).

And in what is perhaps a nod to the ongoing work being pursued by the BSI, the report also suggests that standards-makers consider the wider impact of their work before moving ahead with any concrete proposals.

"Although it is a field characterised by rapid change and uncertainties, steps can be taken to better understand the current realities, drivers of change and impacted sectors," the report’s authors said.

The full RAND report can be found below:

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