Is There a Hollywood Use Case for Crypto and Blockchain Tech?

Will Hollywood ever get on the blockchain?

The question of whether entertainment industry dealmakers will ever embrace cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies as a solution to the age-old problem of Hollywood accounting is discussed by two experts in the crypto realm on the latest episode of Variety podcast “Strictly Business.”

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Tarun Chitra, founder and CEO of research and advisory firm Gauntlet and co-host of the crypto-focused podcast “The Chopping Block,” and Lee Reiners, a Duke University professor who studies financial regulation, discuss how the transparency and permanency of blockchain ledgers might be useful for deals in which a number of participants have small profit stakes that pay out over many years.

Chitra is an investor who outlines the need for crypto’s decentralized approach to finance, i.e. putting the faith in the blockchain community rather than a big financial institution. He sees crypto as powering a new era of investment and risk-taking activity that is not beholden to Wall Street or other gatekeepers. Reiners is a crypto skeptic who sees little use for alternative currency and finance options for the vast majority of Americans.

Chitra notes that in the U.S., consumers have been doing business with what he calls “synthetic claims on real dollars” for decades. Cryptocurrencies emerged on the heels of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, as the ease of creating online communities expanded with social media platforms around the same time that consumer faith in established financial titans was shaken.

“Everything from credit cards to Apple Pay has been a thing that I would say, from the 1980s onward, has been a big change in how people deal with money,” Chitra says. “You can think of de-fi [decentralized finance] as sort of user-generated finance. And the same way that a lot of social networks deal with user generated content, like users making podcasts, making videos. Finance has never really had users who could generate products, right? But if you look at crypto — especially if you look at meme coins — people are creating and destroying assets all the time.”

In a separate interview, Reiners expressed his doubts and concerns that unsophisticated consumers are vulnerable to crypto scams. In recent months, the Securities and Exchange Commission has approved the establishment of exchange traded funds for Bitcoin, one of the most established cryptocurrencies, which will make it easier for mainstream consumers to buy and trade those assets.

“It’s pretty clear to me that the harms vastly outweigh the benefits,” Reiners says. “The challenge then is: What do you do about it from a regulatory standpoint? Right. And, you know, we don’t have the most functional Congress right now. That’s putting it mildly. I think the status quo from a regulatory standpoint is going to prevail. And I think we’re gonna continue to see average folks get harmed by crypto, just as they have been for the past 16 years.”

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. (Please click here to subscribe to our free newsletter.) New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded at Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Google Play, SoundCloud and more.

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