Blockchain Deathmatch: A Debate on Private Versus Public Blockchains at SXSW 2019 [Video]

At SXSW 2019, a panel of blockchain experts – IBM Distinguished Engineer and CTO Open Technology in the IBM Digital Business Group Christopher Ferris, Associate Professor of Finance at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin Cesare Fracassi, Venture Partner for Blockchain Capital Jimmy Song, and Professor of Law at St. Mary's University School Of Law Angela Walch – discuss what is real and what is buzz in the world of blockchain as well as the consequences of a decentralized future.

The foundations for the blockchain and digital currency economy developed quickly with blockchain technology's noticeably early impact on a wide array of industries including finance, healthcare, government, music, film, and more. The push for a decentralized future on the blockchain has only been fueled by the attention cryptocurrency markets have received in mainstream media. Now there are two schools of thought that separate blockchain enthusiastspermissioned (private) blockchains, and permissionless (public) blockchains. Private blockchain supporters believe in bringing blockchain-based solutions to enterprises while public blockchain supporters vie for the widespread adoption of decentralized cryptocurrency and distributed applications to the masses.

“Just saying it’s open source is not an out. If we integrate [Bitcoin] into the financial system, it can affect others who didn’t click through the open-source software license. It’s systemic. You either control it or you don’t.” - Angela Walch

At the root of the argument, these technologists are debating which blockchain (public or private) will allow for a decentralized future where we don't depend on traditional financial systems. This adoption of blockchain will require more assurances to businesses building on it and investors involved. In reality, the decentralized future could be dependent on both blockchains working together.

Watch the full conversation for a deeper dive into the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

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Photo by Christopher Bouie

By Ari Roth