Last week, I got out of work and I headed over to 3rd ave to the Grant Thornton building to attend a seminar. The event was sponsored by ConsensSys and Balanc3, venture production studios that are focused on building and scaling tools and software products powered by Ethereum. They want to get operating systems around the world using their ethereum platform to innovate and expand business everywhere using Blockchain. I forked over $15 for the ticket because they were serving food and drinks!
The seminar was hosted by the ABC (Accounting Blockchain Coalition), a group whose main objective is to “educate and empower its members to understand the impact and opportunities that blockchain technology brings to the accounting industry.” I wanted to see how other industries were being impacted by this technology, how they were starting to utilize it, and what this means for business long term. Grant Thornton is not one of the “Big 4” in accounting, but being #6 in the world surely makes them a leader in the industry. They have recently created a subdivision specifically for Blockchain technology and clients of theirs who have started to transact on this currency.
I would like to now summarize some of the main points that I took from the seminar:
Companies are popping up left and right by creating different tokens from the Ethereum open source platform. With these crypto currencies emerging, startups are converting 100% from the start, with protocols that pay employees 100% with crypto currencies instead of regular fiat currencies (dollar, pound, euro), while working on redesigning enterprise resources. One thing that the ABC looks at is how this can affect accounting procedures. One major roadblock will be taxes as people will have to report earnings, in regards to the cost basis and the realized gains and losses. The ABC is set out to help companies and individuals with account for these conversions.
Another point to keep in mind when dealing with digital currencies is that the recorded value of a certain coin is always changing, and therefore must be tracked for use at any given time. That is what the blockchain ledger is for. The value of 10 ETH will fluctuate regularly, so it is very important for accounting to keep track of current value based on a record of prices. Everything purchased needs to be recorded at a certain value so long as we are dealing with multiple currencies (USD/ETH). Things can truly only be streamlined when everything is seamlessly recorded on a permanent ledger. The ledger will help reduce the need for a lot of overhead in the audits.
The next part of the presentation was lead by Balanc3. Balanc3 is like a Quickbooks for the crypto space. They help to maintain a transaction log, similar to a balance sheet, for companies performing regular crytpo transactions. With all transactions recorded in the blockchain ledger, the balance sheet and other financial statements in the program can be constantly updated in real time to give the viewer an accurate representation of the company/token in real time.
Now the main part of the talk/presentation was asset tokenization. This world has a finite number of tangible assets, but there is endless opportunity in the digital space to work with and utilize those assets. Therefore, creators of the Ethereum blockchain have a lot of control. Businesses have started to create tokens and currencies to represent real world assets, in order to trade their value, quicker and easier. When I hear the word “tokens” I picture my 5 year old self at the arcade. In order to play games, I had to cash in real USD in exchange for the silly arcade tokens that only worked in the machines. By using these tokens and earning tickets, you had the opportunity to trade their value for prizes. Tokenization is essentially that, the conversion of real tangible and intangible assets to a digital token on a blockchain in order to trade for assets. Assets such as real estate, businesses, art, gold, commodities and many of these assets are hard to split up or convert into shares on a decimal level. Now buyers and sellers of assets trade papers and money that only represent part or all of the asset. Many times there are huge processes involved or red tape that limits access and availability to these assets. Things like paperwork, titles, ownership documents, liens, etc. If we already have the technology such as the blockchain why not switch to digitize the transaction similar to how bitcoin works? Startups, small tech businesses, and even major financial companies are competing to do what bitcoin has done which is basically tokenizing assets similar to what bitcoin did to the fiat currency initially.
There will be a digital footprint of all transactions. In this way fractional pieces of assets can be bought and sold in the form of digital currency or tokens. Transfers will happen quickly on a decentralized platform without the need of a central control.. Ethereum has quickly become the major breeder for tokenization because it was created as an open source platform, allowing businesses to create their own currencies for this specific purpose. Businesses are having “ICO’s” that allow investors to buy in the initial sale of these tokens with their current ETH and the use of “smart contracts”. You can lock in on smart contracts and utilize them for so many different business purposes. These aspects make Ethereum versatile and ready for widespread utilization in the currency marketplace.