Report on “ Distributed Ledger Technologies: Challenges, opportunities and the prospects for standards”

DLT(Distributed Ledger Technologies)/Blockchain refers to a type of database which is spread over multiple locations (i.e. a distributed database) and which can be used like a digital ledger to record and manage transactions. Although the technology is at a relatively early stage of adoption and significant challenges remain, it's becoming apparent that DLT/Blockchain holds the potential for major opportunities across several sectors. Furthermore, standardization efforts related to DLT/Blockchain have recently gathered momentum with the setting up of the ISO technical committee (TC/307) on Blockchain and electronic DLT.

We commissioned RAND Europe to carry out a rapid scoping study to examine the potential role of standards in supporting Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT)/Blockchain. The current document, intended for dissemination to interested parties, aims to serve as an overview of the study conducted in early 2017. A more comprehensive report, with more detailed results of the analysis and findings and complete descriptions of the methods, is also available and will be published at a later date.

In this report, we present an overview of the current landscape of DLT/Blockchain developments and closely examine the issues that are central to the development of DLT/Blockchain. We articulate a set of areas for further consideration by the DLT/Blockchain community regarding the potential role of standardization. Rather than providing a definitive list of topics, the aim of the study is to provoke further discussion across the DLT/Blockchain community about the potential role of standards in supporting the development and adoption of the technology. The research has been carried out using a mixed methods approach involving a focused review of the literature, in-depth interviews with experts from public and private organizations, and an internal workshop.