For the accountancy profession, distributed ledgers might help with tasks particularly linked to recording and tracking of information
—Narayanan Vaidyanathan, ACCA

Distributed ledgers and blockchain technology has the potential to improve trust in financial transactions but seem more likely to support, rather than replace, the work of professional accountants, according to a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

The report, Divided we fall, distributed we stand: a professional accountant’s guide to distributed ledgers and blockchain explores how such examples of networked financial and regulatory technology are already showing signs of significant potential to enhance trust and security in business and consumer transactions. 

Yet the report also notes that despite much discussion, such innovations are still in the early stages of adoption and a lot will depend on their ability to provide solutions at scale.

Business processes that are characterised by inefficiencies (eg trade finance), or exist because of a lack of trust (eg Know Your Customer requirements in financial services) or poor supply chain visibility (eg for global garment supply chains) are all key areas for distributed ledger applications, according to the report. 

Narayanan Vaidyanathan, head of technology insight at ACCA and lead author, says:

'For the accountancy profession, distributed ledgers might help with tasks particularly linked to recording and tracking of information. In audit, for example, this might open up the possibility of basing the opinion on the entire data-set rather than a sample. Also, rather than relying on an annual snap-shot, a more on-going view of business performance might become possible. 

Like any technology, however, it is important to know where not to use them, as much as where to do so. If you want to interpret a standard taking into account a particular business context, figure out fair values of assets, or deal with an issue requiring ethical judgment – these tools seem less likely to provide the definitive answer.  

Perhaps the lesson of history is that technology works best when combined with human judgement. Just as online learning co-exists with classroom teaching to create blended learning solutions these tools may be at their best when combined alongside human expertise’, he concluded.

ACCA’s report Divided we fall, distributed we stand: a professional accountant’s guide to distributed ledgers and blockchain is available to read here: http://www.accaglobal.com/uk/en/technical-activities/technical-resources-search/2017/april/divided-we-fall-distributed-we-stand.html 

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Notes to Editors

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. 

ACCA supports its 188,000 members and 480,000 students in 178 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 100 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence. 

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.