Imperial IC3RE mines cryptocurrency technology for wider benefits

Researchers at Imperial College are investigating applying the technology behind cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, for wider benefits.

The new Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering (IC3RE) will explore how the technology can have applications beyond digital currency.

Imperial IC3REIt has received seed funding from Imperial’s Faculty of Engineering and Department of Computing, and there is also a research grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Applying this technology to other transactions such as keeping track of property ownership “could revolutionise how governments and businesses operate and how citizens carry out their lives” it says.

Professor William Knottenbelt, Director of the Cryptocurrency Centre, said:

“We are on the brink of the next digital revolution. The College is in a unique position to harness the potential of the technology that currently powers cryptocurrencies.”

“Just as the industrial revolution and the internet spawned innovation, so too will this technology, opening the doors for new business models to be developed and helping existing companies improve the way they do business and the way communities live their lives.”

Possible benefits? A couple of examples are cited by Imperial. In the finance industry, says the university, reconciliation exercises between banks – comparing records of transactions to determine discrepancies – could happen more rapidly and securely using a distributed ledger.

Distributed ledgers could also enable traders in precious commodities to authenticate the origin of precious stones such as diamonds, it says.

A multi-disciplinary team at the Centre will carry out the underpinning technology, design and social research with governments and industrym, with the aim to enable its smooth transition into the wider economy.

Dr Catherine Mulligan, Assistant Director of the Centre, comments:

“Cryptocurrencies have shown us that we do not need a third party – a middleman – to successfully process transactions between users. It can all be done digitally by a distributed computer network secured by cryptography, which makes transactions much more resistant to fraud.”

“Many financial institutions are focusing on how they could use distributed ledgers to improve banking, but we feel the potential applications are much broader and far-reaching. It could spawn completely new modes of doing business. The opportunities are limitless and work at the Centre aims to make the adoption of distributed ledger technology by society as smooth as possible.”


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