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U.K. Parliament Holds Critical Discussions on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

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The U.K. Parliament’s Treasury Committee held a hearing on May 1st on the topic of blockchain and digital currencies. Witnesses included Ryan Zagone, Ripple’s Director of Regulatory Relations, Martin Walker, Director at Centre for Evidence Based Management, Dr Grammateia Kotsialou, Researcher at King’s College London, and Chris Taylor, CEO of Everledger.

Walker criticized blockchain technology by saying that it is not beneficial in financial institutions and has no benefits. “All that it takes to make a credible idea into a fad is people just switch off their brains and stop thinking. Over 20 years in and around the banking industry — blockchain is a fad, but I have seen many fads in my career. If 10% of what I’ve heard in my career had come true, we would have these amazing banks that run for £1 a week,” said Walker.

Walker also spoke about Ripple’s money transfer tracking feature, which he thinks isn’t much different to the existing SWIFT messaging system. He said using blockchain doesn’t guarantee that people will “update the status of where the payment is”. He also mentioned that “lack of liquidity” doesn’t allow Ripple to transact internationally. “And holding Ripple, a currency which has seen its price drop 80 percent and then back up 100 percent in the course of the last two months is just not credible. So, putting cryptocurrencies into the financial sector is a huge source of risk,” concluded Walker.

While Zagoen defended Ripple’s status, Walker continued explaining that blockchain technology isn’t a new phenomenon. Banks are including blockchain friendly features only because of the “hype” surrounding the technology. Walker said, “Genuine innovation is hard. We’ve created what one of my colleagues calls ‘innovation theater.’ If you want to be seen to be innovative, all you have to do is a proof of concept using blockchain. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t go anywhere.”

Image Credit: ParliamentLive.TV

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