Cryptocurrency Effects in Digital Transformations

Principal InvestigatorDr Catherine Mulligan

Researchers: Iain Stewart and Jenny O’Connor

Research Partners: The University of Surrey

Funder: EPSRC

Duration: February 2015 – July 2017

Crypto-currencies have the potential to transform fundamental aspects of industry and society and make a considerable difference to the activities of government bodies and policy-making. They are perhaps the truest form of digital economy technology that has yet emerged – sitting at the crossroads of technology, economics, social sciences and business – where cryptography has managed to disrupt our established practices and notions of trust, identity and value. They may be viewed as an extreme form of “prosumption”, where the blurring of a distinction between producers and consumers has extended to the currency system itself.

Digital currencies that are based on cryptographic protocols are termed crypto-currencies. These allow end-users to operate a financial system “without trust in third-parties” (Weber, 2014) through the use of a distributed public ledger. These systems are technologically innovative and potentially extremely disruptive not only of money and payment systems, but also of centralised structures of control, recording and validation. Combining the University of Surrey and Imperial’s expertise in computer science, cryptography, economics, business and management, this research will consider the issues emerging from crypto currencies, such as Bitcoin, and their associated underlying technology, the block chain.

This research has four main themes which are closely inter-related through the issue of “currency” and present wide ranging research opportunities.

  • Digital transformations
  • Privacy
  • Community
  • Institutions

Proposed Outcomes

  • Policy documents to guide central and local government, industry bodies  and research agencies.
  • methodology for companies using crypto-currencies and blockchain technologies, providing a step-by-step guide to each phase aimed at start-ups and incumbents.
  • Pilot studies examining the potential impacts of crypto-currencies.
  • community of academic researchers and professionals able to develop the research area and support in developing future research calls in this area.
  • Dissemination of impact evidence identifying risks and opportunities for the UK.