Weirdly, blockchain can’t help combat coronavirus

There’s a time and place for blockchain-bashing, and now is probably not the time (though Alphaville is, of course, the only place). Frankly, there are more important and concerning things to write about at the moment.

But sometimes, when a spot of writer’s block just happens to coincide with the delivery of the most perfect exemplar of a techno-solutionist press release, well one’s appetite for blockchain-bashing is re-whetted.

Shimmying on into our inbox on Wednesday came the news that “Tech rivals collaborate on blockchain to combat COVID-19”! This of course wasn’t the first release we’d been sent on how the distributed technicolour dream-ledger could help combat this deadly pandemic. And nor, we concede with some regret, will it be the last.

In response to COVID-19, technology companies have ramped up collaborations on innovative technologies such as blockchain, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Charlotte Dunlap, Principal Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The industry can no longer afford to wait several years for new market segments such as blockchain to take off.” 

Well it’s simple. And reader, please do take your time to really savour this paragraph, because honestly even if we were trying to write parody we couldn’t have come up with this:

The dire nature of COVID-19 demands the ability to fast-track solutions at a Netflix-like pace. With the forthcoming enabling technologies, reducing complexity and the need for technical expertise in order to usher in a broader set of stakeholders, ‘citizen solver’ could become the newest catchphrase.

There’s then some fluff about a “potentially mega-blockchain initiative” to “integrate COVID-19 data” from relentless blockchain-pushers IBM and Oracle (who were actually already working together on blockchain projects, so coronavirus does not appear to be, contrary to what the release is claiming, the impetus for this). We’re never told what on earth this…

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