'Big 4' Accounting Firms Are Experimenting With Blockchain And Bitcoin

Contributor: Prableen Bajpai, Stocks, Technology, Blockchain

While the landscape for blockchain technology is still in its infancy, its potential is transformational and has led to entities across industries to experiment and embrace it. The ‘Big 4’ are no different. The four largest accounting firms in the world, dubbed as the Big 4, are active members of the blockchain revolution that’s all set to fundamentally change the way traditional services are offered and how businesses operate.

Here’s how each of these firms is engaging with Bitcoin and the blockchain technology.

Deloitte

Deloitte uses the words ‘enigma,’ ‘paradox,’ and ‘opportunity’ for blockchain technology. In 2014, Deloitte launched Rubix—a blockchain offering that provides advisory services and builds distributed applications for clients across sectors, including the government.

In May 2016, Deloitte’s first blockchain lab was created in Dublin followed by a second hub in New York in January this year and more such announcements are expected. Deloitte joined the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA) and the Hyperledger Project by the Linux Foundation in May 2017.

One of the very recent and interesting announcements has been the partnership of Deloitte CIS(Commonwealth of Independent States) with Waves Platform for “providing clients with comprehensive initial coin offering (ICO) services and customized blockchain solutions tailored for specific business tasks.”

The two will also work towards legal mechanisms for regulating ICO projects, something which is much needed.

Deloitte has been open to Bitcoin as well. To improve accessibility, enable hands-on learning—with a motive to push greater blockchain adoption in Canada--the company even installed an ATM in September 2016 at their downtown Toronto office. Bitcoin is also accepted as payment at its internal restaurant, called Bistro 1858.

Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young (EY) became the first advisory firm to accept Bitcoin for its services (at select locations). EY Switzerland clients now have the option to settle their invoices for auditing and advisory services using Bitcoin (since the start of 2017).

Marcel Stalder, CEO of EY Switzerland, believes, “It is important to us that everybody gets on board and prepares themselves for the revolution set to take place in the business world through blockchains, smart contracts and digital currencies.” EY Switzerland showed further support to Bitcoin by joining the Bitcoin Association as a corporate member in May 2017.

EY’s website reads ‘Blockchain technology is officially on the agenda,’ which conveys its commitment to the cause. Last year, it threw a start-up challenge to explore blockchain solutions for two industries—digital identity and energy trading.

In April 2017, EY launched Ops Chain, a set of applications and services to facilitate the commercial use of blockchain technology across the enterprise. It also added New York as the third location for its blockchain lab along with London and Thiruvananthapuram (India). 

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) sees enormous potential for blockchain in financial services. To exploit and commercialize blockchain, PwC began by recruiting 15 leading technology specialists to set up a new global technology team in January 2016.

Since then, PwC has collaborated with various enterprises—public and private—to push the applicability of the blockchain technology around the world.

In November 2016, PwC launched Vulcan Digital Asset Services to enable digital assets to be used for everyday banking, commerce and other personal currency and asset-related services in collaboration with Bloq, Libra, and Netki. On the other hand, as per a March announcement, PwC is exploring blockchain solutions with Alibaba and food industry stakeholders to address supply chain fraud and build trust in the food industry.

In its recent report, ‘Redrawing the lines: FinTech’s growing influence on financial services,’ PwC declares that ‘Blockchain is coming out of the lab.’ It highlights that over three quarters of global financial services companies plan to adopt blockchain in live production systems by 2020.

KPMG

In September 2016, KPMG launched its Digital Ledger Services—a suite of services designed to help financial services companies realize the potential of blockchain. The Digital Ledger Service includes ‘full lifecycle support—from strategic qualification and business case development to relevant use-case development, systems and operations integration, and on-going management of a company’s blockchain infrastructure,’ according to KPMG. The blockchain initiative by KPMG is supported by Microsoft’s Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) platform.  

Building on their strategic partnership, KPMG and Microsoft (MSFTlaunched joint Blockchain Nodes early 2017. These are designed to create and demonstrate use-cases that apply blockchain technology to business propositions and processes.

Final Word

Although the possible applications of blockchain technology are vast, only time will tell how many of them will find a place in the real world. Despite the odds, the potential benefits that blockchain offers justifies the efforts and investment going into it.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.