Chartered Accountants Ireland has published an article by two academics in the GMIT School of Business about Blockchain technology and its impact on the accountancy profession in Ireland.
The article, by lecturers Fearghal McHugh and Trevor Clohessy, identifies how Blockchain and its technologies will change the people skills, processes, systems, and the structure of accounting practice currently applied to any transactions involved in the recording of any information.
The article outlines how Blockchain technology has big implications for those in the sector but, significantly, gives a market opportunity to those who are not. This opportunity is further enhanced when artificial intelligence integrates with Blockchain, the authors state.
Blockchain is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST ) as "tamper evident and tamper resistant digital ledgers implemented in a distributed fashion [ie without a central repository] and usually without a central authority [ie a bank, company, or government]. At their basic level, they enable a community of users to record transactions in a shared ledger within that community, such that under normal operation of the Blockchain network no transaction can be changed once published.
Co-author, Fearghal McHugh, Department of Enterprise and Technology, GMIT School of Business, said; “Blockchain will also open the market to new non-accountant operators who will be certified when AI accounting algorithms are integrated with Blockchain. The demand for this more open market, like the growth of e-business in the past, will be market driven, implying that the services and service level currently delivered are likely to shift up from transaction level to decision making advisor and system process review level consulting roles.
“Blockchain is currently being employed by large industry but across many fields and is at its early stage of evolution. However, it has managed to combine the components of systems together that were open to manipulation. This is closing, and information processes as we know them are evolving.”
Co-author Dr Trevor Clohessy, Department of Enterprise and Technology, GMIT School of Business, said; “Blockchain is a transparent and secure database shared either among a limited private group or available more publicly. Each participant owns an identical copy of the ledger. Companies traditionally use in-house centralised databases for record-keeping purposes. Blockchain uses distributed digital ledgers.
“Our article which is based on previous published research has identified a number of soft and hard technological skill sets which will be pivotal to both accountants and non-accountants in the future. For instance, accountants will need to be able to read and also have input into the creation of smart contracts in the future. These skill sets have already been incorporated into an online GMIT Springboard Blockchain for Business course which commenced in January this year (2020 ). Our experience from this course has been very positive and has highlighted the sustained need for training in the area.”