During a recent interview with CNBC, the Crown Prince of Liechtenstein, Prince Alois, admitted to having an interest in investing in cryptocurrencies and went on to speak in glowing terms about the potential for blockchain technology – the infrastructure that underpins the secure transfer of cryptocurrency – to enhance Liechtenstein’s own administrative capacity and transform various other sectors too.
Liechtenstein is a tiny nation-state in the heart of central Europe, with a largely German-speaking population of less than 40,000. The state’s Royal House generated a considerable amount of their wealth by offering a tax haven for famous and high-wealth individuals. The state was forced to rebuild its wealth from the ground up post-World War Two, when many of the state’s precious art collections were stolen. Its reclassification as a financial hub has brought considerable riches back to Liechtenstein.
Hans-Adam II remains Liechtenstein’s head of state but, since 2004, much of the day-to-day operation of the principality is handled by his son Prince Alois. Alois admitted in his discussion with CNBC that, with the state’s finances back in the black, blockchain could be utilised to improve the efficiency of the estate’s operational affairs. Alois is also the first from any royal house to comment on cryptocurrencies as an “asset class”, insinuating that his family may consider investment in virtual assets such as bitcoin to further enhance their estate.
Blockchain technology has the capability to “change a lot of things”, according to Prince Alois. The Prince is certainly correct in that blockchain will be able to improve the efficiency and integrity of tasks across a range of industries. In fact, there are many sectors where it is already being used as a force for good. As a decentralised platform for innovation, blockchain represents an exciting opportunity for industries to create transparent marketplaces for their customers.
Blockchain is helping to tackle the challenges associated with fund administration. Traditionally, businesses depended upon archaic software or inefficient paper-based processes to record expenditure. The use of smart contracts to automate tasks such as document processing and data logging has been key. Blockchain almost eradicates the prospect of data inaccuracies, ensuring more dependable, transparent expenditure tracking that allows regulated firms to demonstrate accurate, real-time reports of expenditure.
Online poker plaform, CoinPoker operates exclusively on the blockchain, offering provably fair, safer games for poker fanatics using the network’s own cryptocurrency, Chips (CHP), designed to be played exclusively at their poker tables. Blockchain could also be utilised to make the need for Escrow a thing of the past, transforming any industries that rely on middle-men in deals, such as real estate. Secure, automated and instant smart contracts could replace the need for costly intermediaries, drastically reducing settlement times and mitigate the risk of transferring assets. Even legal firms are teaming up with blockchain advocates such as the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance to educate lawyers on the premise of digitally-secured contractsthat could be transferred in real-time.
There’s no doubt that in the coming decades, blockchain will not just be used as an instrument of finance. As a decentralised solution, it can bypass the problems of political and institutional corruption. With the potential to foster huge social change around the world, it’s pleasing to see a royal house acknowledge blockchain’s potential to protect the rights of individuals and organisations for generations to come.