Blockchain in financial markets and intermediation : a qualitative exploratory study of the impact of blockchain technology on the financial market infrastructure and financial services
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- Master Thesis 
A blockchain is an open, decentralized ledger that provides a cryptographically secure way of transacting without the need of trusted third parties. The technology has garnered a variety of claims and perceptions regarding the future of financial institutions. Originally introduced to circumvent the incumbent financial intermediaries, blockchain technology has increasingly attracted interest from the very institutions that it was meant to replace. In this exploratory study, we seek to analyze the impact of blockchain technology on the current market infrastructure by conducting a literature review and in-depth interviews with experts and stakeholders from the financial industry. Our findings suggest that smart contracts can automate and potentially decentralize a variety of transactions. Moreover, the introduction of initial coin offerings has brought about a new means of peer-to-peer fundraising in a space previously dominated by venture capital firms, but financial intermediation will likely remain to support the effective functioning of financial markets by resolving information asymmetry. Furthermore, we find that the distributed and immutable nature of blockchain technology provides a robust and secure infrastructure by increasing the integrity of data. This will interconnect institutions across financial markets by streamlining settlement- and verification processes and potentially expanding global financial services in ways previously neglected. The foundation of the financial system will, however, remain. We have considered various aspects such as regulatory concerns and market designs to unfold the extent of potential gains and limitations provided by blockchain technology. We conclude that there are yet many unknowns with respect to the extent and speed with which blockchain technology will impact financial services and intermediation. However, the technology will improve efficiency in current infrastructures, as well as facilitate new decentralized ways of transacting.