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Blockchain Disruption and Smart Contracts

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  • Lin William Cong
  • Zhiguo He

Abstract

Blockchain technology provides decentralized consensus and potentially enlarges the contracting space using smart contracts with tamper-proofness and algorithmic executions. Meanwhile, generating decentralized consensus entails distributing information which necessarily alters the informational environment. We analyze how decentralization affects consensus effectiveness, and how the quintessential features of blockchain reshape industrial organization and the landscape of competition. Smart contracts can mitigate informational asymmetry and improve welfare and consumer surplus through enhanced entry and competition, yet the irreducible distribution of information during consensus generation may encourage greater collusion. In general, blockchains can sustain market equilibria with a wider range of economic outcomes. We further discuss anti-trust policy implications targeted to blockchain applications, such as separating consensus record-keepers from users.

Suggested Citation

  • Lin William Cong & Zhiguo He, 2018. "Blockchain Disruption and Smart Contracts," NBER Working Papers 24399, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24399
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L4 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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