Cesare Fracassi,
Associate Professor of Finance, Director of the Blockchain Initiative at Texas McCombs, courtesy photo.

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform businesses and entire industries.

And the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin is at the forefront of this emerging technology with its newly launched Blockchain Initiative.

UT Austin is participating in a new program focused on blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and digital payments. Ripple, a distributed ledger currency exchange company, is providing the financial backing for the program. UT Austin is among 17 academic recipients worldwide selected for Ripple’s $50 million blockchain research program.

Silicon Hills News recently sat down with Cesare Fracassi, a McCombs associate professor of finance and the Blockchain Initiative’s director, to talk about blockchain technology and the new program on the Ideas to Invoices podcast.

“The goal of the initiative is to bring together all of the resources on the University of Texas campus to work on blockchain technology,” Fracassi said.

The Blockchain Initiative at Texas McCombs is focused on providing support to faculty to do research on blockchain technology, Fracassi said. It also provides students with opportunities to learn more about blockchain technology, he said. And it’s the nexus for blockchain technology to work with companies in Austin and San Antonio, he said.

Ever since humanity began, people have been using centralized ledgers to handle data. But in the last eight years, advancements in technology and cryptology have allowed people to create distributed ledgers, Fracassi said. It’s a network of nodes that must come to a consensus to figure out whether a transaction is valid or not, he said. It relies on a consensus algorithm to validate transactions, he said.

Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency and it relies on a distributed network to validate transactions.

“Bitcoin in a way is philosophically revolutionary, it brings control of a system from a central authority to a distributed one,” Fracassi said.

There is a lot of hype around cryptocurrencies right now, but most of them are going to die, Fracassi said.

“Only very few are going to survive,” he said.

Despite that, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are disruptive technologies that people need to pay attention to, Fracassi said. Philosophically and technologically, blockchain has the potential to really disrupt the way companies do business.

One of the big issues of companies getting together and collaborating has to do with who owns the data, Fracassi said. With blockchain technology, everyone holds the data, and it makes collaboration among big companies easier, he said.