Review Of Blockchain Revolution By Don And Alex Tapscott

Jul. 09, 2016 11:47 AM ETCOIN-OLD, BTC-USD2 Comments
Hazel Henderson profile picture
Hazel Henderson


  • Traces the emergence of blockchain as an instrument of trust.
  • Highlights the importance of blockchain in financial markets.
  • Details the challenges faced by blockchain technology.

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business and the World by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott, Portfolio Penguin/Random House, 2016

This 348-page panoramic view shows how fintech is disrupting traditional finance and how bitcoin's underlying blockchain technology is changing the global economy. If you are in an incumbent bank, insurance company, pension fund or managing assets, Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business and the World is required reading. Co-authors Don and Alex Tapscott are deeply knowledgeable, based on Don Tapscott's Wikinomics (2006) and Macrowikinomics (2010), while Alex Tapscott is CEO of Northwest Passage Ventures, a former investment banker now advising and building blockchain companies. His 2014 report on governing digital currencies for the Global Solutions Network was published by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

I became deeply immersed in this book in preparation for the expert workshop on Fintech for Sustainable Development of the UN Inquiry on Sustainable Finance to which Ethical Markets contributed a paper on Reforming Electronic Markets and Trading (2014). I was not surprised to see Canadian experts and market players punching above their weight as they have at the United Nations for decades. For example, we followed the development of fintech firms including IEX and supported its successful application to the SEC as now the nation's 13th national stock exchange. The same kind of technology-based market reforms as IEX's famous "speed bump" also are explored along with the current 1,379 fintech startups with combined funding of $33 billion now disrupting legacy finance.

Today's list of the Fintech 100 are only the tip of the iceberg. Big incumbent banks are now rushing to buy out, partner or coopt these fintech startups they see as taking some 25% of their business in banking, payments, loans and remittances as these information platforms and cell phones simply bypass old money circuits. There are 5,000 blockchains on Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) servers and banks, including Citi (NYSE:C) and Barclays (BCS), are developing in-house capabilities and facilitating fintech startups. Regulatory bodies including the UK's Financial Conduct Authority are helping with their "regulatory sandbox" and many startups are now in the Regtech field.

Blockchain Revolution surveys applications in the key area of trust, without which markets cannot operate. Chapters cover applications in finance, business models (including Airbnb (AIRB), Uber (UBER) along with cloud providers Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) but most still startups and pre-IPO), IoT, international remittances, art, music and culture - all disintermediating "middlemen" and empowering peer-to-peer relationships among individuals and small enterprises.

The most enlightening and important chapters are in part III "Promise and Peril" outlining the need for basic organization of a robust infrastructure for blockchain systems with ethical principles, standards and international governance - similar to that of the Internet, such as ICANN for domain names. The authors see blockchain as the next wave of global information, similar to the Internet in scope. But only if the technology design challenges are met, along with reducing the massive energy use and cooling needs of servers! Critical to success will be the creation of appropriate legal innovations, standards, principles and protocols for a new global governance network of multi-stakeholders such as the Global Solutions Network and that which fostered the Internet. Must reading, or as suggested by the upcoming conference: Finance Disrupted: Collaborate or Die! (The Economist, NYC, October 13, 2016).

This article was written by

Hazel Henderson profile picture
Hazel Henderson D.Sc.Hon., FRSA, is the founder of Ethical Markets Media, Certified B Corporation and producer of its TV series. She is a world-renowned futurist, evolutionary economist, a worldwide syndicated columnist, consultant on sustainable development, and author of The Axiom and Nautilus award-winning book Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy (2006) and eight other books. Her editorials appear in Wall Street International Magazine and many other media partners, including Other News, and her book reviews appear on Her articles have appeared in over 250 journals, including (in the USA) Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor; and Challenge, Mainichi (Japan), El Diario (Venezuela), World Economic Herald (China), LeMonde Diplomatique (France) and Australian Financial Review. Since becoming a full-time media executive in 2004, Hazel has stepped down from many of her board memberships, including Calvert Social Investment Fund (1982-2005), the Social Investment Forum and the Social Venture Network. She has been Regent's Lecturer at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Horace Albright Chair in Conservation at the University of California-Berkeley, and advised the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Science Foundation from 1974 to 1980. She remains on the International Council of the Instituto Ethos de Empresas e Responsabilidade Social, Sao Paulo, Brasil; serves on the Program Council of FORUM 2000, Prague, Czechoslovakia, founded by the late President Vaclav Havel; is a World Business Academy Fellow; an active member of the National Press Club (Washington DC), and a member of the Association for Evolutionary Economics. She is an Honorary Member of the Club of Rome. She shared the 1996 Global Citizen Award with Nobelist A. Perez Esquivel of Argentina. In 2007, she was elected a Fellow to Britain’s Royal Society of Arts, founded in 1754. She leads the Transforming Finance initiative, created the Green Transition Scoreboard®, co-developed with Calvert the GDP alternative renamed the Ethical Markets Quality of Life Indicators, co-organized the Beyond GDP conference for the European Commission, and funded three Beyond GDP surveys, finding strong support worldwide for ESG metrics in national accounting. In 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014, she was honored as a "Top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior" by Trust Across America. In 2012, she was honored with the Reuters Award for Outstanding Contribution to Development of ESG & Investing at TBLI Europe. In 2013, she was inducted into the International Society of Sustainability Professionals Hall of Fame.  Her 2014 monograph, Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age, published by ICAEW and Tomorrow’s Company, UK, is available for free download from

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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