What Corporate Boards Should Know About Blockchain

Inside Americas Boardrooms
Technologies like blockchain or cryptocurrency are not just trends-they're here to stay. More companies are finding valuable applications for these emerging digital technologies, which means that many of today's corporate boards have some catching up to do.

In this episode, Barbara Berlin, a director with PwC's Governance Insights Center, and Grainne McNamara, a principal with PwC's Digital Team, join host TK Kerstetter to start from the beginning:

  • What is blockchain?
  • How are today's companies using blockchain to add value? What are the future applications?
  • What questions should boards be asking management (and themselves) about this emerging technology?
Berlin and McNamara provide a thorough explanation of blockchain and outline the most common business use cases today (e.g., currency, identification, supply chain tracking).

''Always starting with the [company] strategy--and whether any business use case fits within the current strategy--is where [the board should] start the conversation,'' said Berlin. ''...How do we disrupt ourselves?''

As with any new technology, McNamara also emphasizes the delicate balancing act between innovation and risk:

[blockquote source="Grainne McNamara, Principal, PwC's Digital Team"]If [the company is] going to open up [its] internal system of control and connect into these networks, there is a risk associated with that. And that risk comes in the form of cyber risk, third-party risk, vendor risk, etc. Again, it's really important to think through [these risks] with management: 'Although [we] want to be open and collaborate and innovative...[we] do need to protect the enterprise and [we] do need to think about how these risks get managed.[/blockquote]