Re-risking in Realtime. On Possible Futures for Finance after the Blockchain

Bill Maurer

Abstract


Contemporary financial technology (“fintech”) efforts to enhance the clearance and settlement of transactions may reopen of long-settled questions about accounting, its role in the development of capitalism, its theological undertones, and its practical efficacy. This essay considers distributed ledger technology, the database systems underlying Bitcoin and similar digital currency experiments. Distributed ledgers do more than record transactions. They can also verify them without apparent human intercession, and they can execute more complicated tasks that take on the appearance of and have some of the same practical effects as contracts. If double-entry bookkeeping animated the modern constitution of subjects and objects of property, what do distributed ledgers herald?

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.6094/behemoth.2016.9.2.917