Triple Entry Accounting with Blockchain
The term ‘triple-entry’ was initially coined in 1986 by Yuji Ijiri, an accounting scholar. He proposed that in addition to the debit and credit entries, the third layer of entries called credit should be included with a new set of accounts to explain changes in income. The idea of such a ‘triple-entry bookkeeping’ system is to provide more momentum financial information to the organization, enabling better strategic decision-making. In 2005, a financial cryptographer, Ian Grigg, wrote a working paper on his website titled ‘Tripleentry accounting,’ giving this term a different meaning from Yuji Ijiri’s (1986) momentum accounting definition. Ian Grigg raised a new concept, ‘the receipt is the transaction,’ wherein a digitally signed receipt backed up by a financial cryptograph between two parties can be viewed by a shared third entry to avoid transaction fraud and reduce redundancies in the internal recording.
Coyne and McMickle (2017) study the possibility of accounting using blockchain and conclude that it is infeasible. They summarise three hurdles that restrict blockchain applications in accounting: ‘(i) the desire for confidentiality that renders public blockchains undesirable; (ii) the ability for firms to manipulate private blockchains retroactively; and (iii) the limited transaction verification that the blockchain provides. The limitations of blockchain development at that time and their arguments are based on whether blockchain can be used in a double-entry system. The first hurdle relates to the balance between the openness and privacy of data among different participants. The spirit of blockchain is to share information, and such sharing can be designed to be either entirely open for everyone (public blockchain) or open with restrictions (permissioned blockchain). Data integrity in a permissioned blockchain is contained within the power of nodes as opposed to the entire public. Permissioned-blockchain is likely to be preferable for use in accounting practices.
Blockchain is viewed as a new technology built on existing technologies we are familiar with. As Nolan Bauerle explains, blockchain is the ‘orchestration of three technologies (the internet, private key cryptography, and a protocol governing incentivization) which together results in a secure system that allows interactions without a third trusted party to facilitate digital relationships. In other words, it is an alternative ledger system. This new ledger system may enable a new level of information exchange within and across industries (Deloitte, 2018). Applications based on blockchain technology can disrupt how organizations get things done. Such a disruption can be called a ‘democratization of trust.’ Triple-entry accounting with blockchain is a new and potentially much more efficient way to achieve trust and transparency and is likely to disrupt the accounting industry.
- Google Image. (2022).
- Cai C. W. (2020). Triple-entry accounting with blockchain: How far have we come? Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand.
- Coyne, J., and P. McMickle. (2017) Can blockchains serve an accounting purpose? Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting. 14(2), 101–111.
- Deloitte (2018). Breaking blockchain open: Deloitte’s 2018 global blockchain survey. Available at: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/cz/Documents/financ ial-services/cz-2018-deloitte-global-blockchain-survey.pdf
- Grigg, I. (2005). Triple entry accounting. Available at: http://iang.org/papers/triple_entry.html.
- Ijiri, Y. (1986) A framework for triple-entry bookkeeping. The Accounting Review. 61(4),745–759.