加密货币的价值值得肯定 但马太效应过于明显

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  • Marten Risius
嘉宾简介

Marten Risius

克莱姆森大学管理学院教授

核心要点

区块链在电子商务中应用有限

金融科技将赋能而非重塑金融行业

加密货币的价值值得肯定

解决加密隐患关键在于使用者教育

不宜用过严的监管来规避风险投资者的损失

前言

首先,我想先强调整个区块链领域正在迅速发展。相关的猜想有很多,但实际的应用寥寥无几。两年前,每个人都认为区块链会使金融服务业过时。银行为了胜过彼此,在开展实际工作之前,发布关于区块链开发项目的消息。如今,我们看到供应链行业有了更多的发展,银行业似乎已经过时了。所以我们需要回顾一些基本的观点。

区块链技术不一定是现有数据库的良好替代品。如果您正在寻找数据库,您可能会考虑现有的解决方案。区块链技术可以为社会经济的变化提供基础,但不会是存储数据的替代方案。

从我的角度来看,在数字商品的转移上,区块链的全部潜力都会发挥作用。如果我们将区块链技术与实物的转移相结合,我们会引入可以操纵的可信接口点。举一个常用的例子,对于一个有钻石矿藏的公司,如果想要使用区块链技术来保证钻石不被军阀开采,只有在提供给区块链的数据可以信任的情况下才可行。那么如何保证呢?大多数情况下,它无法得到保证。而如果你借助任何类型的第三方,如政府机构或其他技术(RFID芯片,GPS信号),那么他们也可以被操纵。因此,我们需要认识到的是,即使在将数据添加到区块链后很难对数据进行操控,但在数据添加到区块链之前,仍然可以被操纵。类似于信息系统面临的传统“垃圾进,垃圾出”的挑战。


01

区块链在电子商务中应用有限

金融界:区块链技术对电子商务有何影响?

Marten Risius::在我看来,金融服务,供应链提供商和政府机构等似乎都正在探索如何使用区块链来补充完善其服务,而不是被其取代。我们更有可能会看到基于区块链的服务补充当前的业务形式,而不是取代它。 特别是关于电子商务:正如引言中所提到的,如果我们谈论数字商品的转让,我们可能会看到区块链带来相当大的改变。 但就实物产品的数字价值交易而言,这似乎不是一个完美的区块链应用场景。


02

金融科技将赋能而非重塑金融行业

金融界:基于区块链的Fintech会怎样影响金融业?您认为距离金融业大规模应用区块链技术有多远?

Marten Risius::我还没有看到金融科技对金融服务业的的巨大影响。毋庸置疑,已经有一些金融科技公司取得了相当大的成功,但大多数金融科技公司最终(甚至可能只是为了)被金融业的老牌企业收购。与许多互联网初创公司类似,金融科技能够为客户提供价值,但却无法为公司提供价值。简单来说,这意味着他们提供便利的服务,但人们不愿意为此付费。因此,在大多数情况下,它们最终会被集成到现有系统中,要么就会消失。我个人不记得有任何一家银行因为它被金融科技创业公司取代而破产。 同样,我认为这种趋势将同样发生在以区块链为基础的金融科技上。

目前,我看到的基于区块链服务的最主要案例是代币发行融资(ICO),我简单地将它概括为众筹,IPO和风险投资的组合。不幸的是,由于存在一些欺诈性的ICO,同时实际投资开发的应用比例很小,ICO的声誉很差。但从概念上讲,ICO似乎是一个可行的用例,为我提供了将募资和投资系统民主化的大好机会。

03

加密货币的价值值得肯定

金融界:比特币和加密货币会怎样影响金融体系?它们会改变现有货币的地位吗?

Marten Risius::我是加密货币的价值的坚信者,但是前面提到的有关可信接口的问题仍有待解决。 然而,随着我们越来越多地用电子方式进行交易,我们也可能看到基于加密货币的交易增加。至少我会欢迎这一变化。 比特币目前地位显著,大多数货币都与之相关,但我无法判断是比特币还是其他加密货币会是未来的选择。


04

解决加密隐患关键在于使用者教育

金融界:在区块链上存储的资产和数据是否存在风险?目前对安全问题有什么解决方案吗?

Marten Risius::很多人正在讨论加密货币在暗网中的作用。我不能判断非法活动在基于区块链的解决方案出现之后是否有所增加,因此我不会讨论这些推测。

但我可以说的是,区块链技术存在一些隐私风险。区块链事务通常需要非对称加密,这意味着你拥有一个任何人都无法访问的安全私钥以及您可以为事务共享的公钥。这并不是一个新颖的概念,例如,在过去,当为电子邮件引入PGP加密时,人们不理解这个概念,并十分愿意分享他们的私钥。这意味着几乎任何人都可以以他们的名义发送经过验证的电子邮件。这是一个很大的安全风险,而且持续了数十年。如果你感兴趣的话,从1999年的“为什么Johnny无法加密”开始有一系列关于这个主题的学术文章。我相信在今天仍然有文章在讨论“为什么Johnny仍然无法加密”。如果您现在考虑人们可能将他们的健康数据,财务数据或政府数据存储在区块链上并开始共享他们的私钥,那么这可能是灾难性的。即使人们不共享他们的私钥,他们也需要为他们的钱包设置适当的密码。但考虑到几乎没有人使用正确的密码管理器工具来创建安全密码,那么就存在更多安全风险。因此,如果你只是简单地向人们提供这项技术,但没有适当地教育他们如何使用这些技术,我认为风险很大。

05

不宜用过严的监管来规避风险投资者的损失

金融界:区块链的数字身份是否会给监管带来困难?您如何看待区块链时代的监管?

Marten Risius::我认为大多数区块链社区都对监管持怀疑态度。而且从我的角度来看,也有很合理的原因。例如,ICO的一个重要优点是它们可以在没有太多监管的情况下快速交易。这吸引了投资者,帮助新技术成长和走向成熟。但与此同时,这种狂野的西方心态和机会让很多人承受了损失。在这个领域,合理的监管似乎很难,因为政策制定者通常对技术知之甚少,而且严重受已有行业的说客的影响。但同时,我看到一些规定将有利于增强区块链技术对公众的吸引力。因此,我个人欣赏允许快速发展的轻微监管。这种监管的形态超出了我的领域,但我很乐意参与这些讨论。目前,我认为制定一些技术行业标准非常重要,因为它们目前正在开发中。我的建议是,在看到这项技术的发展方向之前不要过度监管。在这项技术上亏损的人很可能是风险偏好者,并且无论如何已经通过这种风险投资行为赚了很多钱。所以我会主张在这一点上减少监管,然后在我们了解风险时采取明智的方法。

06

对话实录

Up front I would like to stress that the entire field of blockchain is rapidly developing. There is a lot of speculation and only very few live applications. Two years ago, everybody thought blockchain would render the financial services industry obsolete. Banks outdid each other by pushing news releases on blockchain developments and projects before actually working on anything. Nowadays, we see more development in the supply chain industry and banking seems out of fashion. So we need to remind us of some basic ideas.

First of all, blockchain technologies are not necessarily a good replacement for existing databases. So if you are looking for a database you may want to consider the existing solutions. Blockchain technologies can provide the foundation for socio-economic changes, not for alternative forms of storing data.

From my perspective, the full potential of blockchain bears fruit when we consider the transfer of digital goods. If we combine blockchain technologies with the transfer of physical goods, we introduce trusted interface points that can be manipulated. For example, the often cited case of using blockchain technologies to guarantee that diamonds are not procured from warlords can only work if the data provided to the blockchain (for example from the companies who mine the diamonds) can be trusted. How can that be guaranteed? Most often it cannot be guaranteed. And if you use any type of third parties such as governmental agencies or other technologies (RFID chips, GPS signals) they can be manipulated as well. So we commonly need to understand that while it is difficult to manipulate data after it is added to the blockchain, data can still be manipulated before it is added to the blockchain. Similar to the traditional "Garbage in, garbage out" challenge that information systems face.

JRJ: What changes do you think will take place in business services in the following five years?What impact do you think the blockchain technology has on e-commerce?

Marten Risius: To me it seems that businesses such as financial services, supply chain providers, and governmental agencies are exploring how to use blockchain to complement their services instead of being replaced by it. To me it seems likely that we will see blockchain based services complementing current forms of business instead of replacing it. Regarding E-Commerce in particular: As mentioned in the introduction, if we are talking about the transfer of digital goods, we might see considerable effects of blockchain. But regarding the exchange of digital value for physical products, this seems not like a perfect blockchain use case.

JRJ: How does Fintech based on blockchain technology affect the financial industry? How far do you think we are from the large-scale application of blockchain technology in the financial industry?

Marten Risius: I haven't seen the big impact that Fintech was assumed to have on financial services yet. There are certainly some Fintech companies with considerable success but the majority of Fintechs ended up (or maybe even just aimed for) being bought up by established players in the financial industry. Fintechs, similarly to a lot of internet startups, are capable of providing value to the customer but don't provide value to the firm. In simple terms it means that they offer a convenient service, but people are not willing to pay for it. So for the most part they end up being integrated into existing systems or they disappear. I personally cannot recall a single bank going out of business, because it was replaced by a Fintech startup. Simiarly, I would expect this trend to continue with blockchain based Fintechs.

Marten Risius: Currently, the main use case I see for blockchain based services are initial coin offerings (ICOs). I would summarize them in simple terms as a combination of crowd funding, IPOs, and venture capitalism. Unfortunately, they have a poor reputation due to a few fraudulent ICOs and the low percentage of actually developed applications. But conceptually ICOs seems like a viable use case to me with great opportunities to democratize the funding and investment system.

JRJ: How do they influence the financial system? Will they change the status of present currency?

Marten Risius: I am a firm believer in the value of cryptocurrencies. However, the aforementioned aspect of the trusted interfaces remains to be solved. As we increasingly conduct transactions electronically, however, we may also see an increase in cryptocurrency based exchanges. I would welcome that at least. Bitcoin has a prominent status right now and most currencies are linked to it. But I am not able to suggest whether Bitcoin is the future or another cryptocurrency.

JRJ: Is there a security risk in the storage of assets and information on the blockchain? What solutions are currently available for security issues?

Marten Risius: A lot of people are discussing the role of cryptocurrencies on the dark web, for example. I cannot say wether illegal activities have increased since the appearance of blockchain based solutions. Therefore, I will not participate in these speculations.

Marten Risius: What I can say, however, is that blockchain technologies have some privacy risks. Blockchain transactions typically require asymmetric encryption meaning you have a secure private key that nobody should ever get access to and a public key that you can share for transactions. This is not a novel concept. In the past, when PGP encryption was introduced for e-mails, for example, people did not understand the concept and willingly shared their private key. This meant that principally anyone could send out verified e-mails in their name. That was a big security risk. This went on for decades. If you are interested, there is a whole series of academic articles on this subject starting with "Why Johnny Can't Encrypt" that started - I believe - in 1999 with articles still coming out on "Why Johnny Still Can't Encrypt" today. If you consider now that people might store their health data, financial data or governmental data on a blockchain and start sharing their private key, it could be desastrous. And even if people don't share their private key, they need to set proper passwords for their wallets. But considering that barely anyone uses a proper password manager tool to create safe passwords, there are more security risks. Thus, I see great risks if you simply provide people with this technology without properly educating them on how to securely use them.

JRJ: Does the digital identity of the blockchain bring difficulties for regulation? What do you think of the regulation in Blockchain Era?

Marten Risius: I perceive most of the blockchain community to be sceptical of regulation. And - from my perspective - there are good reasons for it. For example, an essential benefit of ICOs is that they can be quickly executed without much regulation. This attracts investors and helps a young technology grow and mature. At the same time, however, a lot of people lost a lot of money because of this wild west mentality and opportunity. Reasonable regulation seems difficult at this point, because policy makers commonly understand very little about the technology and are heavily influenced by lobbyists of the established industries. At the same time, I see that some regulation would be beneficial to make blockchain technologies attractive for the general public. Thus, I personally would appreciate some light regulation that allows rapid developments. What that should specifically look like is beyond me but I would love to participate in those discussions. For now, I think it is important to have some technical industry standards as they are currently developed. My urge is not to overregulate before we see where this technology is headed. The people who loose money through these technologies are probably risk affine and have made a lot of money through that behavior already anyhow. So I would advocate for less regulation at this point and then take informed approaches as we learn about the risks.

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