Where is your distributed ledger technology now?
Reserachers documented 43 blockchain use-cases through internet searches, most of which were described with glowing claims like “operational costs… reduced up to 90%,” or with the assurance of “accurate and secure data capture and storage.” They found a proliferation of press releases, white papers, and persuasively written articles.
However, we found no documentation or evidence of the results blockchain was purported to have achieved in these claims.
We also did not find lessons learned or practical insights, as are available for other technologies in development.
We fared no better when we reached out directly to several blockchain firms, via email, phone, and in person. Not one was willing to share data on program results, MERL processes [MERL stands for monitoring, evaluation, research and learning] , or adaptive management for potential scale-up. Despite all the hype about how blockchain will bring unheralded transparency to processes and operations in low-trust environments, the industry is itself opaque. From this, we determined the lack of evidence supporting value claims of blockchain in the international development space is a critical gap for potential adopters.
[Researchers: John Burg, Policy, Planning and Learning Fellow at USAID; Christine Murphy, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Capacity-Building Specialist at Social Solutions International, Inc; and Jean Paul Pétraud, Monitoring and Evaluation Fellow at USAID.]