Blockchain Remains a Niche Technology

Blockchain remains a niche technology

Companies from the DACH region only see isolated applications for blockchain technology.

This is the conclusion of a study by the Technical University of Munich, the University of Mannheim and ZEW Mannheim, which is based on an analysis of the websites of around 1.4 million companies from the DACH region using deep learning methods.

According to the study, blockchain technology is actively used in less than one percent of all companies. Companies from the financial industry, the information and communications sector and consulting firms are among the companies that use blockchain more frequently than average. As a result, blockchain clusters are emerging, particularly in the major financial centers.

“This means that the technology remains a niche technology even 15 years after its introduction, although the financial sector as well as ICT and consulting companies do use blockchain in some areas,” says Professor Hanna Hottenrott, head of the ZEW Research Department “Economics of Innovation and Industrial Dynamics” and co-author of the study.

Clusters support blockchain

The formation of blockchain clusters in financial centers has several advantages. Firstly, the proximity to other companies working on similar technologies facilitates the exchange of knowledge and resources, making cooperation more likely. The short distance to potential customers also plays an important role here. “This also explains why newly founded blockchain start-ups prefer to locate near companies and institutions from the financial industry that are already using the new blockchain database technology or have a high probability of doing so in the near future,” explains Christoph Gschnaidtner, co-author of the study and researcher at the Technical University of Munich.

Web analysis with the help of deep learning

The data was collected by analyzing text content on official websites of companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The researchers used a sample of almost 1.4 million companies from the ORBIS database. Text passages on the websites were then searched for predefined and blockchain-related keywords. A machine language model (NLP) was then trained using deep learning techniques to understand the context in which these keywords are mentioned on the websites. This made it possible to identify the exact use of blockchain technology and make statements about the spread of the technology. This innovative approach is particularly suitable for new digital technologies such as blockchain, which are difficult to capture using conventional innovation research methods.