Potential Conflict of Interest? UK Parliament Blockchain [and Ripple] Critic Worked For R3

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Last week, UK Parliament held an evidence session aimed to inform regulators on the nature of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

There were four guest panelists, with Director Martin Walker of the Centre for Evidence Based Management taking a hostile stance against blockchain as a financial instrument and against the work of fellow panelist and Ripple representative Ryan Zagone in particular. Walker claimed that Ripple was not suited to operate in the finance sector, citing the volatility of the XRP currency and the fact that Ripple owned a majority share of XRP currency.

Walker went on to categorize blockchain projects in terms of “the good, the bad, and the ugly”. The former banking professional and blockchain developer lumped all cryptocurrency, ICOs, and decentralized system projects into the “bad” category, while acknowledging that “a much smaller part” of blockchain technology belonged in the “good” section, namely projects that had stripped all privacy and decentralized features to resemble existing systems which don’t use blockchain at all.

He stated that this could equally be achieved with decades-old technology, and insisted that blockchain as a technology that had “little to nothing” to offer the world of finance. Walker’s “ugly” category referred to the belief that blockchain has a great many practical use cases, which Walker of course denied.

Walker’s work with R3 Consortium

Though he had the most to say out of all four panelists, with regulators even asking him to be brief amidst collective laughter at one point, Walker neglected to mention in the 1 hour 53 minute session that throughout 2016 he worked as Product Developer for R3, arguably creating a conflict of interest as the majority of people watching and reading his testimony were unaware of this. R3 is a consortium of banks and other organizations that spent $59 million on a distributed ledger technology product called Corda. The company made headlines after claiming last year that despite popular opinion, the Corda product was not a blockchain.

 

The company came under fire from the crypto/blockchain community following the announcement, with many voicing the opinion that their efforts to integrate blockchain into the financial services industry had been a  costly failure. The company denied that this was ever their goal and blamed any instances of R3 referring to Corda product as a blockchain on”semantics”. In 2017 an article written by Walker was published on Finadium.com called “The real story behind the R3 Consortium’s “Admission of Defeat” on Blockchain“.

The article, in which Walker again refers to blockchain as “pixie dust”,  backs the idea that the company was never working on blockchain, citing Ripple as an example of another company that doesn’t operate a true blockchain. R3 are  currently suing Ripple in a $19 billion lawsuit over a terminated contract that would have allowed R3 to purchase 5 percent of the total XRP supply.

Featured image from UK Parliament/TV.

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Conor is a cryptocurrency journalist and an ICO writing consultant at The Written Craft content service. He's an advocate of decentralized public control of finance, an off-grid enthusiast, and really fun at parties too. Follow him on Twitter @iWriteCrypto to hear him roar.