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FinTech: Some Limits on Smart Contracts

Amid the excitement about the promise of smart contracts comes a wet towel over their use. Milos Dunjic argues that the Capabilities of Smart Contracts are Overblown because most people misunderstand the fundamental properties of smart contracts and propose ideas that are not implementable on a practical level. Dunjic addresses the scalability and privacy issues presented by smart contracts.

As for scalability, smart contract code must produce the identical outcome in every node that executes it. Dunjic questions whether a large number of distributed nodes all hitting a “funds transfer” API at the same time might look like a self-inflicted DDOS attack on the API. Would each call to the API receive exactly the same response from the API? Reliability must be absolute in a smart contract.

As for privacy, replicating and storing data on each blockchain participant’s computer does not look like the best way to prevent data breaches. The reality of decentralized networks is that they expand the opportunities for breach. Not surprising, Dunjic’s conclusion is that smart contracts should be used mainly for management of transactions with one database and that interaction with external environments and services should be avoided.

Copyright 2020 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 75


About this Author

Susan Altman, KL Gates Law Firm, Commercial Transactions and Outsourcing Attorney

Susan Altman navigates businesses through the complexities of today’s technology-enabled commercial transactions in order to help lower costs and improve revenues. Ms. Altman helps clients properly structure contracts in ways that foster long-term, positive commercial relationships, whether through subscription agreements, licensing, strategic alliances, or outsourcing transactions. For example, she recently structured all of the commercial contracts to launch a digital exchange through which institutional investors, banks, broker-dealers, and registered advisors may...