Blockchain: Opportunities for Private Enterprises in Emerging Markets

Blockchain is an emerging technology that offers the possibility of re-engineering economic models and enabling the creation of markets and products that were previously unavailable or unprofitable across emerging markets. This report is intended to introduce readers to current developments in distributed ledger technology, or blockchain, with the vantage point of possible benefits to emerging markets. The first six chapters were written a year ago, while the last three are more recent and bring the perspective of a year of development in the nascent technology. Chapter 1 provides an overview of blockchain technology, followed by a look at its unfolding applications in emerging markets in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 examines whether blockchain can be used to mitigate de-risking by financial institutions. Chapters 4 and 5 look more closely at the financial services sector, including an overview of how blockchain fits into the spectrum of financial technology (fintech) innovations and the resulting provision of financial services (Chapter 4), and an analysis of blockchain’s contribution to reaching the unbanked and underbanked in various emerging markets, including in Latin America, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa (Chapter 5). Chapter 6 looks beyond fintech to explore how developments in applied blockchain technology can impact agribusiness, drug safety, and more generally provide enforcement tools to promote the reach of sustainable and inclusive business. Chapter 7 discusses the proper regulatory environment needed to stimulate competition and investment in blockchain technologies in emerging markets and beyond. Chapter 8 examines the potential of blockchain to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy solutions in these countries. Chapter 9 offers a review of legal issues associated with the use of blockchain and how these can be addressed.

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