Accenture, a global professional services company
, has sparked fresh controversy with the launch of its prototype that enables blockchain technology to be “edited”. With this innovation, the company is directly challenging the stark feature of blockchain, its “immutability”, sparking discontentment among leading fin-tech institutions who consider it as a betrayal of what the technology is all about.
According to Accenture, its agenda behind designing this technology is to resolve human errors, accommodate legal and regulatory requirements, and address mischief and other issues, while preserving key cryptographic features.
“As we focus on new uses for blockchain technology beyond the realm of cryptocurrency, absolute immutability will become both a virtue and a vice,” said Richard Lumb, Group Chief Executive, Financial Services, Accenture.
“For decentralized cryptocurrency systems, such permanent accounting has been crucial in building trust and faith among participants. But for financial services institutions faced with a myriad of risk and regulatory requirements, absolute immutability is a potential roadblock.”
Lumb further adds that this invention strikes a balance for enterprise use that “preserves the fundamental value of the technology” while enabling enterprise adoption.
How does Accenture’s new blockchain work?
The technology, the company explains, is designed for “permissioned” blockchain systems, which are managed by designated administrators under agreed governance rules. This implies that it will not cater to “permissionless” systems, like the cryptocurrency system supporting Bitcoin, which is open and decentralized and where the absence of a single governing authority makes absolutely permanent, or “immutable” record keeping vital.
The invention also offers a capability where any edit made to a block leaves an immutable “scar” to indicate that the block was altered.
The company believes that the prototype would significantly serve enterprise uses of blockchain technology particularly in banking, insurance and capital markets.
“As blockchain solutions gain momentum in financial services and other industries, more and more real-world situations will emerge where information on blockchains simply needs to be modified or removed,” said David Treat, Managing Director, Accenture capital markets, Blockchain practice.
“Our solution makes it possible to deal with situations in a predictable fashion when things go wrong and to meet new and changing regulatory and legal requirements, like the ‘right to be forgotten’ and other data-privacy and retention rules. An editable form of blockchain will make the technology more practical and useful for enterprise systems and accelerate its adoption. It combines the confidence that comes from immutability with the pragmatism required in an imperfect world.”
With the ongoing opposition to Accenture’s new innovation, it is safe to assume that it will likely take a while to fully develop and implement editable blockchains in existing businesses, but it is not yet a castaway for business technology. Accenture will present the invention next week at Sibos 2016
in Geneva, Switzerland.