Blockchain Beyond FinTech – Why American Voters Should Be Interested

How leaders in the finance industry say block chain will soon revolutionize the gaming industry and the election process


I am not going to pretend that I understand blockchains. I simply do not. Nope. Nada. Zilch.

So when I had the chance at the GDS FST Summit in Atlanta, GA to interview someone heavily involved in the use of blockchains from Deutche Bank, I was eager to be demystified.

“Blockchain is a technology by which a number of large computers are interconnected, very similar to the way we have internet now, and these computers or nodes function to manage and support smart contracts,” says Dr. Navid Keshavarz-Nia, SVP of Information Security for Deutsche Bank.

Starting to glaze over.

“So blockchains perform many functions including things like maintaining the general ledger and communicates that information to other nodes and essentially provides a high degree of security, says Dr. Keshavarz-Nia. “It’s not possible to simply eliminate the ledger completely because you have it across multiple nodes, perhaps thousands of nodes as the program continues to grow”

I may or may not be blinking a lot at this point.

Ah yes! I hang out with hipsters and may or may not have been in the general vicinity of some well groomed bearded fellas in Brooklyn talking about Bitcoins. OK, I’m back in the game!

“Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency,” he explains. “It provides a mechanism by which assets can be transferred in computers…It provides the ability to transmit value or currency. It’s a transmission of ownership and provides a way to do it effectively without an intermediary because blockchains are a peer to peer environment and so far tests have proven very successful.”

I may or may not be drooling at this point.

Look, don’t judge me. I’m a reporter but I went to a liberal arts school and held a hefty double major of English and Art History. So block chains ain’t my bag, you dig? But then Dr. Keshavarz-Nia, clearly noticing how dull the expression on my face had become, saved me from the abyss of my own ignorance by giving me a real world, or Shawna Liberal Arts world, example.

“Digital disruption with things like blockchain will be enormously powerful in ways we haven’t seen before…and has enormous potential to change the way we do business today by providing tremendous value not only in the financial sector, but also in other areas as well,” he says.

Areas OTHER than the financial sector? Do tell!

“There are applications where we have seen evidence of it in the gaming industry,” exclaims Dr. Keshavarz-Nia.

Ok, I finally had a reason to take out my handy reporter’s notepad and jot something down. A little research quickly turns up the game Beyond The Void, which announced at an industry event in Las Vegas this past October that it was aligning itself to become the “first competitive” real-time strategy Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game that combines a blockchain-based Initial Coin Offering with a blockchain-token economy. The goal is to eventually create a new game culture where players have as much ownership of the environment as the developers. The game is described as being intensely competitive between players in order to feed the growing e-sports space.

And that’s not the only application outside of FinTech. Dr. Keshavarz-Nia gives another potential use that most every American can appreciate after this past fall’s presidential election, fraught with demands for recounts and accusations of voter fraud.

“There are folks who are also looking at it from a registration perspective,” says Dr. Keshavarz-Nia. “There have been talks recently about the prospect of creating an environment where you have votes that once they are cast are immutable. In some cases when you vote electronically your data isn’t stored and the results can be modified later. When you have the implementation of some of these blockchains in things like electronic voting you have records of it, actually multiple records of it, that are nearly impossible to destroy. That’s the real value of the blockchain. They are immutable.”

There are some great info graphics for Art History majors who need picture books to help explain how all this works. Essentially, by casting votes as transactions, a blockchain is created that keeps track of the tallies of the votes. These votes can be counted by everyone because of the blockchain audit trail, which can also verify that no votes have been changed or removed.

“You don’t have that problem with block chains,” explains Dr. Keshavarz-Nia, “because the information is always available. Even if you destroy one node, there’s no possibility of destroying every node unless some catastrophe occurs. It is tremendously safe and secure. I think there’s great potential for blockchain applications in business, in marketing and product development as well. ”

So I think it’s time to start studying those blockchain picture books and get prepared for a blockchain bonanza come next American presidential election.