World Economic Forum – Realizing the Potential of Blockchain

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A Multistakeholder Approach to the Stewardship of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

Preface

Distributed ledger technology promises to have far-reaching economic and social implications. By
leveraging a global peer network to assure directly and transparently the integrity of value exchanged
between parties, blockchain appears likely to transform a number of important industries that
supply or rely upon third-party assurance. It could prove to be a broader force for transparency and
integrity in society, including in the fight against bribery and corruption. It could also lead to extensive
changes in supply chains and governmental functions, such as central banking.
The extent to which this new technology realizes its potential will depend in substantial part upon
how well stakeholders steward its development. There remain important open governance questions
regarding both the functioning of the technology and its current and potential applications.
The World Economic Forum and its new Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is pleased
to publish this foundational survey of blockchain governance challenges and multistakeholder
cooperation opportunities. Authored by Don and Alex Tapscott, leading experts on both blockchain
and multistakeholder governance, this White Paper provides a structured analytical framework
and taxonomy for use by industry, technical, governmental, civil society and other stakeholders in
considering how they might collaborate to resolve problems and unlock opportunities beyond the
reach of any single actor.
As Don and Alex emphasize, a distributed ecosystem need not be a disorganized one, and improved
governance need not imply formal governmental legislation or regulation. A cooperative process of
multistakeholder dialogue and stewardship can go a long way in improving trust and helping new
technological systems develop in a socially beneficial manner.
This is the animating purpose of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: to provide an
international platform for public-private dialogue and cooperation in respect of the stewardship
and agile governance of new technologies. We thank the authors for their contribution, which we
believe provides a solid foundation for precisely such a process in respect of blockchain. We also
thank members of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on the Future of Blockchain
and others who provided feedback on the White Paper, which expresses the perspectives of the
authors alone and not necessarily those of the Forum as an institution or its individual Members and
constituents.
Richard Samans
Head of the Center for the Global Agenda and Member of the Managing Board
Zvika Krieger
Head of Technology Policy and Partnerships
Geneva and San Francisco, June 2017


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