© 2021

Chain Reaction

How Blockchain Will Transform the Developing World

  • Discusses the advantages of blockchain technology to the developing world and economy

  • Answers the key question of whether existing institutions will embrace blockchain to rapidly grow and develop, or whether people will instead use this technology as a new route to trust, enabling them to circumvent existing low-trust institutions

  • Offers and explains two scenarios for how Blockchain technology will evolve, showcasing the effects of each: the Big Bet Scenario and the Devil You Know Scenario

Palgrave Macmillan

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Paul Domjan, Gavin Serkin, Brandon Thomas, John Toshack
    Pages 1-8
  3. Paul Domjan, Gavin Serkin, Brandon Thomas, John Toshack
    Pages 9-14
  4. Paul Domjan, Gavin Serkin, Brandon Thomas, John Toshack
    Pages 15-23
  5. Paul Domjan, Gavin Serkin, Brandon Thomas, John Toshack
    Pages 25-43
  6. Paul Domjan, Gavin Serkin, Brandon Thomas, John Toshack
    Pages 45-55
  7. Paul Domjan, Gavin Serkin, Brandon Thomas, John Toshack
    Pages 57-78
  8. Paul Domjan, Gavin Serkin, Brandon Thomas, John Toshack
    Pages 79-91
  9. Paul Domjan, Gavin Serkin, Brandon Thomas, John Toshack
    Pages 93-99
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 101-110

About this book


Amidst the constant stream of overly technical and excitable books heralding a blockchain revolution that’s destined to be more disruptive than the Internet, this book stands apart for its more nuanced take, focusing on the potential for these new technologies to change developing countries for the better. Chain Reaction divides the world into two: for some, blockchain seems a poor substitute for an efficient banking and regulatory system in which transactions are settled instantly and contracts are underpinned by solid institutions. For others, it will be truly life-changing – namely those living in countries where rule of law is weak, concepts of ownership are vague and, consequently, trust in institutions is in scarce supply.

With blockchain, we are about to witness a leapfrogging – one that will bring the next billion emerging consumers into the formal economy by creating reliable institutions of contract, ownership and trust among people previously denied such luxuries.

The authors humanize the technology by taking the reader on a global journey through a multitude of applications – from registering property to voting and delivering aid. In place of the usual abstract lessons in complex technology, this book is instead filled with lively anecdotes of places where trust is so weak that a crisp dollar bill sells at a premium to a better-used version. The book’s goal is to create the first truly approachable, entirely comprehensible and enjoyable read on the wonders to come from blockchain.


Blockchain new technologies developing countries blockchain revolution efficient banking regulatory systems infrastructure mobile wallets cryptocurrencies banking financial regulation FinTech innovation blockchain revolution development finance

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.NormannPartnersLondonUK
  2. 2.New Markets Media & IntelligenceLondonUK
  3. 3.Grayline GroupAustinUSA
  4. 4.Delphos InternationalLondonUK

About the authors

Paul Domjan consults and advises on strategy, growth, innovation and scenario planning. He is a Senior Associate at NormannPartners and Senior Contributing Analyst at Tellimer and was CEO of 4Cast-RGE. He has advised the UK, US and many developing country governments; was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University; and is a frequent guest lecturer on emerging markets and digital themes. He traveled overland across southern and eastern Africa with his spouse and primary school aged children while researching this book.

Gavin Serkin’s first book, Frontier: Exploring the Top Ten Emerging Markets of Tomorrow, was acclaimed a “must read” by Financial Times. His work leading Bloomberg’s teams of journalists uncovering derivatives behind the global financial crisis won him Society of American Business Editors & Writers’ Best in Business and Society of Professional Journalists’ Deadline Club awards. In 2015, Gavin founded New Markets Media & Intelligence to spur responsible investment in technology and developing countries. He is a frequent guest lecturer on emerging markets.

Brandon Thomas is an entrepreneur and executive with over 20 years of experience developing and managing businesses in numerous industries, from retail to government to media. Brandon is currently Partner of Grayline Group, a firm that brings together experts, data, and solutions to help companies and public institutions manage disruptive change, and founder of Blockview Partners, a consulting and investment advisory firm.

John Toshack is a Managing Partner at Delphos International where he connects technology companies with sources of impact finance and development capital; areas of particular interest include venture capital, financial inclusion, agri-tech and digitization of trade. Prior to joining Delphos, John had a 15+ year career with the HSBC Group, where he held a number of senior roles in the Global Markets division.


Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Chain Reaction
  • Book Subtitle How Blockchain Will Transform the Developing World
  • Authors Paul Domjan
    Gavin Serkin
    Brandon Thomas
    John Toshack
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-51783-0
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-51784-7
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIII, 110
  • Number of Illustrations 16 b/w illustrations, 1 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Development Finance
    Business Finance
    International Finance
    Financial Services
    Finance, general


“Chain Reaction is a great introduction to the subject of blockchain and its transformative potential in emerging markets. On-the-ground reporting brings the issues to life and the exchange of views between the authors keeps the reader aware that this is a developing story with a long way to go.” (Jonathan Wheatley, Emerging Markets Editor at The Financial Times) 

“The scenario approach is the perfect way to step beyond the clichés about blockchain and explore the full range of possibilities in a rich and compelling way—and you simply could not ask for better guides.” (Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist) 

Chain Reaction is showcasing how blockchain is revolutionizing governance, building trust around the developing world, with many examples of what blockchain can do for society.” (Arunma Oteh, Academic Scholar at University of Oxford and former World Bank Treasurer) 

“A thoroughly enjoyable primer for understanding blockchain, distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrencies, and a wonderful insight into how the technology that started with Bitcoin is being applied today. Highly recommended.” (Mark Mobius, PhD, Founding Partner, Mobius Capital Partners) 

Chain Reaction is refreshingly frank in its treatment of the technology behind blockchain, dispelling crypto moon shots in favor of a story of realistic hope for the developing world. A book for novice technologists and blockchain believers alike, Chain Reaction weaves its way around the world with case studies and anecdotes of false dawns peppered with green shoots.” (James Bowater, Founder & Editor at Large of at City AM) 

Chain Reaction shines a light on the complexity and misunderstandings that surround blockchain, dispelling myths and using data and examples to predict the possible future application of this innovative technology. Few have attempted anything as practical. Chain Reaction is an insightful tour through innovation, politics and technology leapfrogging in the emerging world.” (Duncan Wales, Founder and CEO, Tellimer) 

“This book invites those who might consider deploying blockchain to answer several important questions: Why exactly they are deploying it? With what expectations? With whom, and instead of whom, and against whom, and for whom? The examples and callouts in the text helpfully ground these questions in relation to a wide range of different realities.” (Rafael Ramirez, Professor of Practices, University of Oxford; Director, Oxford Scenarios Programme)