Platforms, blockchains and the challenges of decentralization

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

This commentary explores the feasibility of blockchain technologies (and cryptocurrencies) in contesting the power of centralized, corporate platforms. While proponents of blockchain and cryptocurrencies regularly proclaim their power to decentralize and counter corporate power, I am much more constrained in my assessment and note the significant challenges facing open blockchain approaches in competing with platforms. From this, I highlight three key areas in which blockchains may complicate platform operations, albeit in indeterminate ways. These include (i) closed, state-based blockchain systems focused on making back-office processes more efficient, (ii) the use of cryptocurrencies for platform-based transactions and (iii) providing digital objects with an element of "uniqueness"that makes them tradable in new ways. In the end, blockchain and cryptocurrencies are technologies like any others, providing affordances for some kinds of action over others but ultimately their embeddedness in practice and space shapes how they impact the organization and geography of economies, societies and regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-372
Number of pages6
JournalCambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Cambridge Political Economy Society. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • blockchain
  • corporate platforms
  • cryptocurrency
  • economic geography
  • non-fungible tokens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

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