Technology is creating new ways for us to trust individuals and ideas, yet at the same time trust in institutions (governments, banks and even churches) is collapsing.

We don’t have to be able to define trust in order to look at the changing characteristics.

Until mid 1800s, trust was built around individual relationships, and your reputation was known to all in the village.  As we moved into the 20th and 21st centuries, and the global economy grew, so we moved towards institutional trust (lawyers, bankers etc.) as this was the only way to do business with people in other jurisdictions, whomyou’d never met.

Nowadays you don’t have to look too far to see the trust breaches in this model:  The fine levied on ratings agency Moody’s, the VW emissions scandal, the fact that only 1 Wall Street executive went to jail during the 2008 financial crash, the Panama papers…  and so the list goes on…

The system clearly allowed the institutions to abuse trust. We need to address this fundamental shift that institutional trust simply wasn’t designed for the digital age.

2-way rating reviews (as is the case for both supplier and consumer on the AirBnB-type digital platforms) affect the behaviour of BOTH parties.  Imagine if ratings agencies took consumer feedback into account when rating sovereign debt instruments.  Behaviour like this will make everyone more accountable for EVERYTHING, in the same way that you never scream at your Uber driver for fear of a poor rating as a passenger.

In support of this theme, the Economist describes the Blockchain as “The great chain of being sure about things”, yet most of us don’t know anything about cryptographic primitives, let alone Satoshi-what’s-his-name..  so what exactly is The Economist ‘sure’ about?  They’re sure that this technology removes the need for any institutional middle-man, like a law firm or a bank. And they’re sure that it is gaining momentum!

Whilst the Blockchain may only influence you tomorrow, Registered Communication is here today.

Credit: Rachel Botsman