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The BoF Podcast: Blockchain Explained

Speaking at BoF VOICES, venture capitalist Ken Seiff and Blockchain co-founder and CEO Peter Smith elucidate on the development and potential of a technology still in its nascent stages.
Peter Smith (Right) in conversation with Rohan Silva | Source: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion

OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — It may be easy to define blockchain in a string of technical buzzwords (a decentralised, frictionless, way of permanently exchanging value between two entities on an open ledger) but what does it actually mean?

To further explain how it works and what we can do with it, venture capitalist and "recovering retailer" Ken Seiff compares blockchain's infrastructure to that of the internet. The internet allows for the exchange of data between two entities (be it GPS location sent from a phone to Google Maps or an image to Facebook). However, much like the users of dial-up and email in the '90s would never had anticipated the advent of Uber and Airbnb, blockchain as a technological infrastructure has not yet had its potential fully realised.

Building on Seiff's overview of its development, Peter Smith, in conversation with Rohan Silva, offers a deep-dive into the origins and machinations of blockchain technology. For all its technical intricacy, the way we can comprehend something as conceptual as blockchain comes down to branding, perception, and whether the description is voiced by an engineer or an entrepreneur.

As both Seiff and Smith note, blockchain can be used to facilitate the transfer of values that as of yet are unfathomable. But even in its current state, says Smith, “it will change the power structure between the people who create and the people who buy and the people in the middle who finance.”

For the fashion industry, which relies so heavily on the interplay between creativity and commercial management, the implications of adopting blockchain technology are of great significance.

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