Global Blockchain Benchmarking Study

Dr Garrick Hileman and Michel Rauchs.

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The first Global Blockchain Benchmarking Study gathered data from over 200 enterprise DLT start-ups, established corporations, central banks and other public sector institutions, including non-public data obtained through confidential online surveys. It provides an empirical overview of the current state of both enterprise and public sector use of blockchain and DLT. 

The study details the emergence and evolution of the DLT ecosystem, explores its actors and their business models, and examines the current state of the industry in terms of use cases, network and application deployments, as well as key challenges to broad DLT adoption. It also explains the concept of ‘blockchain’ and DLT, attempts to clarify terminology, highlights the different DLT architectures, and dives into governance-related issues. 

Highlights of the report

  • Significant growth of the enterprise DLT ecosystem
    At least 115 DLT start-ups employing more than 2,000 people are active in the ecosystem, in addition to large established corporations that increasingly set up entire business units and research labs exclusively dedicated to DLT.
  • The protocol layer is slowly maturing
    Several dozen start-ups and established corporations are building and improving the core infrastructure (protocol frameworks, core building blocks), but ‘immature technology’ is still considered one of the key challenges to broader DLT adoption.
  • Only limited network and application deployment to date
    The vast majority of users are experimenting with small-scale, isolated networks; live applications are mostly built as ‘permissioned layers’ on public blockchains.
  • Majority of use cases focus on financial services
    The majority of enterprise DLT companies are targeting financial and insurance-related use cases and actors, but increasing attention is being given to non-monetary applications (e.g., identity, supply chain, intellectual property).
  • Trend towards opening core infrastructure platforms
    An increasing number of companies are open-sourcing their codebases, shifting monetisation of the platforms to higher stack levels (e.g., consulting, application development, support).
  • Key challenges to broader DLT adoption remain
    unclear regulatory environment and legal risks are most often mentioned as key challenges; study participants consider privacy and confidentiality to be more of an issue than scalability and performance concerns.
  • Interoperability still in its infancy
    The current landscape is fragmented and comprised of incompatible protocols, but there is an increasing focus on developing common standards via the joint development of enterprise DLT frameworks by a variety of consortia.
  • Significant public sector DLT activity observed
    Local, regional, national and multilateral institutions are all engaged in DLT-related activities; 77 per cent of countries represented in the study have multiple institutions showing an interest in DLT.
  • Public sector institutions are experimenting with a variety of DLT protocols
    Sixty three per cent of central banks and 69 per cent of other public sector institutions (‘OPSIs’) have already been involved in proofs of concept and/or running trials; OPSIs are generally further ahead than central banks.
  • Ethereum has been widely tested at central banks
    Fifty seven per cent of central banks are experimenting with either the public Ethereum network or a permissioned version.
  • Existing DLT deployment plans
    Fifteen per cent of OPSIs plan to deploy DLT-based applications this year, and another 23 per cent plan to do so within the next two years; the timetable for central banks is more conservative than for OPSIs.

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