Cryptocurrency and the ‘Ecology of Technology’

In the last budget, the government set aside £10m for research into cryptocurrencies – and the first grant has now been awarded to the Surrey Centre for the Digital Economy.


The EPSRC grant, CREDIT (Cryptocurrency Effects in Digital Transformations), is for £400k and will be led by Roger Maull, Professor of Management Systems at Surrey Business School, closely supported by Dr Cathy Mulligan co-director of the Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering.


Dr Mulligan and Dr Phil Godsiff (project researcher) are also part of a group of advisors developing a report on Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) for Professor Sir Mark Walport, the Government Chief Scientific Advisor.


This is the first grant to study the implications of cryptocurrencies and includes four work packages:


  • Business models;
  • Legislation and regulation;
  • Governance;
  • Privacy and identity.


According to Prof Maull, ‘DLT is possibly the most revolutionary technological advance at the moment – there’s virtually no limit to what we can do. The implications are profound: it means a whole different way of monitoring national income and wealth, with ramifications for how the economy is managed and run.’


In Australia, for example, the securities exchange are considering using the blockchain for clearing and settlement, and a recent change in Australian law will enable the payment of social benefits via coloured coins. This means that potentially benefits can be paid in a digital format that only allows it to be spent at, say, a named supermarket over a specific time period.


Such mechanisms are not limited to financial or public services but can also be used to store data on almost any asset e.g. health data and potentially insurers or health care providers may be able to incentivise certain ‘healthy’ behaviours with healthier food as a reward from the supermarket.


This grant builds on the CoDE team’s mission to explore, understand, and predict the ‘ecology of technology’ – the far-reaching effects of technological innovation on every aspect of our digital world. Sector-changing developments are virtually an everyday occurrence now – what could be next?


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About the Author : Kris Henley

Communications and Outreach for Surrey Business School's Centre for the Digital Economy, a newly-founded research centre to explore the implications of the Digital Economy for business, government and society.

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