Blockchain and the Global Governance of Anti-Money-Laundering

Show full item record

Permalink

http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201910023575
Title: Blockchain and the Global Governance of Anti-Money-Laundering
Author: Surakka, Päivi
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201910023575
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/305832
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: This thesis is a contribution to the budding discussion within social sciences about blockchain – an emerging technology that, for the last decade or so, has garnered a lot of attention especially with its cryptocurrency applications. More recently, blockchain has started to spread to fields outside of the financial sector as new imaginaries are being projected onto it in e.g. logistics, energy, entertainment, and the humanitarian sector. The study at hand focuses on blockchain in the realm of anti-money-laundering. Blockchain, when applied to cryptocurrencies, seems to propose challenges to the actors who try to prevent money-laundering, and institutional reactions trying to restrict or manage the use of certain blockchain applications have already started to emerge. However, these reactions have also affected the development of the technology itself. As blockchain is an emerging technology and phenomenon, the research conducted for this study is of the explorative kind. Reflecting on ethnographic observation and eight semi-structured interviews with e.g. cryptocurrency activists, NGOs and representatives from tax administration, central bank, foreign ministery, and financial supervision authority, the thesis examines the different imaginaries projected onto blockchain. By applying a combined framework of the global assemblages approach and the concept of practical activity, the thesis investigates the tactics, politics, morals and the subject of blockchain, and attempts to answer the following questions: How is blockchain being applied or resisted, in order to resolve the perceived problems in the field of anti-money-laundering? What is being tried to achieve by the use or resistance of blockchain in this field? Why is blockchain regarded to be of value or a risk? And fundamentally, if examined as a combined entity – who is blockchain? A myriad of interpretations emerge from the data. For many, blockchain holds promise of a better future where individuals have more power over their freedoms and assets. For others, blockchain is challenger that is controlled by no one and allows illicit activities to go unnoticed. For some, blockchain is a threat that should be restricted and governed. The main finding of the study is that blockchain allows many different agendas and imaginaries to be projected on to it. The “original” emancipatory values of blockchain that would allow its users independence, anonymity, immutability, and freedom from central governance seem to be extremely interchangeable with the values of governance and efficiency. The contradictory goals and morals enacted through blockchain have not been resolved. As the juridico-legal attempts to govern blockchain increase, certain blockchain-based actions could go deeper underground, making it more difficult for law-abiding actors to take part in blockchain-based activities. For the humanitarian sector, blockchain holds a lot of interesting potential. Blockchain could be used for e.g. improving access to energy, providing legal identities, and enabling cost-free remittances. The mutually constitutive nature of governance and technology should be taken into account as interpretations are made, so as to not prevent or hinder the development of applications with societally beneficial goals.
Subject: Blockchain
technology
money-laundering
anti-money-laundering
governance
global assemblages
practices
practical activity
explorative research


Files in this item

Files Size Format View

There are no files associated with this item.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record