Michel Rauchs, lead cryptocurrency and blockchain researcher at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), part of Cambridge University, talks about the challenges in classifying blockchains with New Money Review editor Paul Amery.

Some interview highlights:

  • Confusion over the meaning of the terms ‘blockchain’ and ‘distributed ledger technology’ is worsening

  • A true blockchain has decentralised control, yet decentralisation is not a binary property—it varies continuously, depending on the way a system is set up, its hierarchies and power structures

  • A blockchain without decentralisation is better described as a shared database—yet such shared databases could still be revolutionary in sectors where data has historically been held in silos

  • The trade-offs involved in competing blockchain systems are rarely advertised by their promoters

  • Any analysis of a blockchain must be holistic: it must cover the structure of the underlying protocol, the network itself and the kind of data recorded

  • The study of blockchains draws on many academic disciplines: for example, computer science, cryptography, network science, economics, finance, anthropology, sociology and politics.