Blockchain and CSR: Transparency & Technology, Facilitators of Trust.
If there is one theme that is indissociable from blockchain, it is the transparency of transactions. Not from the stakeholders’ identity, protected by a cryptographic method, but from the distributed and decentralized register. But while transparency is an undeniable confidence-building vector, trust does not necessarily need transparency to be established. A transparent business relationship will undoubtedly be a source of trust, but the reverse is not true. A business relationship based on trust will not necessarily be transparent. At the heart of any relationship, whether commercial, diplomatic, banking, social, marital, etc., is the matter of trust. Would blockchain be the technological solution that could automate transparency and guarantee total trust in any form of transaction?
Many hope so, and this technology embodies the idea of a technological alternative to the principle of trust. Nevertheless, blockchain and its various applications are only tools and their properties are therefore dependent on their designers and/or their governance systems. While decentralized governance is found in the essence of this technology and in several of its applications, the concentration of computing power within a few mining cartels has biased the probity of some of them. Furthermore, the multiplication of projects and the growing interest of “conventional” industries have seen the emergence of completely non-transparent blockchains with centralized, federal or even plutocratic governance systems. The question of transparency therefore goes beyond the technological framework to the ambition of the designer.
Technology at the service of ambition
If transparency is not about technology, but design, intent, ambition and therefore ultimately about governance, then any leader, any organization, any board of directors can voluntarily make the choice to be more transparent, with or without technological help. Why did it not happen yet? Perhaps because our current organizations were not designed with this ambition and because nothing (or too little) in the performance evaluation tools encourages this virtue. However, individuals’ expectations (citizens/consumers) in terms of transparency have never been so expressed and never so pressing. The feelings of mistrust in our societies are exacerbated. To prevent this trust from disintegrating, the time has come to value the transparency of organizations and to create reward mechanisms across the board of society (taxation, bonuses, remuneration, mandate, etc.). What if blockchain is not a magic solution, it offers a technological basis that can facilitate the implementation of such mechanisms.
This is the observation shared by CyrilPaglino, founder of Starchain Capital and the blockchain incubator The Garage: Well used, blockchain protocols provide strong guarantees of transparency, security and reliability… Due to its intrinsic technical characteristics and its ability to create virtuous incentives, this technology has everything to be the technical base of a more responsible economy and ethics.
Blockchain therefore has all the characteristics to develop a technical infrastructure favorable to this ambition. It provides leaders the opportunity to design these schemes, to program, automate and embed them in their organizations in a sustainable way. In the coming world, creating new rules of the game and weaving the Web of renewed confidence will be essential to any hope of conquering or retaining market share.
By Lepetit Jeremi — Retreeb’s Co-Founder
Translated from French into English by Julie Lenfant