Blockchain Tech Highlighted in New Competition at Notre Dame

The competition is centered around using blockchain tech to change the ways taxes are levied.

by Caleb Bauer, South Bend Tribune / April 23, 2018
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(TNS) — SOUTH BEND — The MBA Tech Club at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College hopes to put South Bend on the map as a place known for creating new ideas in the field of technological innovation.

On Friday, the club kicked off Notre Dame’s IDEA Week with its inaugural Thomson Reuters MBA Tech Innovation Challenge, a case competition centered around using blockchain technology to change the way taxes are levied.

Blockchain technology, made popular by its use in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, serves as an encrypted ledger which is accessible to multiple parties. The competition cases focused on solving the issue of tax evasion and fraud in the European Union, where value-added taxes are levied on products as they move through different stages of production or distribution.

Vinod Krishnadas, president of the MBA Tech Club, said utilizing blockchain databases can help eliminate an estimated 120 billion euro in value-added taxes that are not paid annually throughout the EU.

“The easiest way to think about blockchain is to think about the way we do business today,” Krishnadas said. “In a business-to-business transaction, (another business) sells me a product. That transaction has to go through a bank.”

But with blockchain technology, a double entry of debit and credit is stored on a decentralized database. The result is a system that allows users to see each transaction, instead of relying on paper or separate electronic accounting of each sale or purchase.

Transferred to taxation, the system can ensure that no transactions are left out of complying with tax laws. Instead of reacting to instances of fraud, the technology could prevent it from even happening.

Seven teams from different schools, including one team from Notre Dame, presented their proposals to a panel of judges, competing for $10,000 in prizes for the top three teams. The team from University of California Irvine took the first place prize of $6,000.

Praneeth Kavuri, the organizer of the event and member of the Tech Club, said the blockchain technology, though seemingly complex, has the potential to completely alter virtually every sector of the economy and vastly improve accounting practices.

“It’s a technology to definitely look out for in the future,” said Kavuri.

The MBA Tech Club hopes to help Notre Dame launch into that future, by combining business and technology and making the Midwest known for new innovations.

“We are realizing there are amazing tech ideas here at Notre Dame,” Krishnadas said, “but businesses are looking at the West Coast and East Coast. We wanted to host a competition that would bring the best teams here.”

Krishnadas added that the technology is still in its fledgling stages, and that like other tech innovations, adoption will catch up with it quickly.

“If you think of someone pitching Snapchat in 1992,” Krishnadas said, “it would have sounded absurd. That’s the same with where we are with blockchain technology right now.”

©2018 the South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Ind.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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