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Journal Article

REA, Triple-Entry Accounting and Blockchain: Converging Paths to Shared Ledger Systems

August 25, 2023
Journal of Risk and Financial Management

During the last half century, the concept of shared ledger systems that offer a single source of truth has challenged traditional bookkeeping, leading to innovations such as the resource-event-agent (REA) accounting framework, triple-entry accounting (TEA), and blockchain. Despite these advancements, the historical development of shared ledger systems remains under-researched and unclear, with the influence of REA on TEA particularly overlooked. This study aims to fill this gap by conducting a genealogical analysis of shared ledger systems, with a focus on tracing the development of TEA and its historical byproduct of the REA framework designed by McCarthy. Through a comprehensive literature review and interviews with pioneers in REA, TEA, and blockchain, we uncover the missing link between REA and TEA. Our findings suggest that the current explosion of shared ledger systems results from the convergence of three parallel research streams, occasionally interacting with each other. We correct common misconceptions, acknowledge the influence of key individuals, and map out the overlapping paths of REA, TEA, and blockchain. By elucidating the historical evolution of shared ledger systems, this study contributes to the academic debate and fosters further discourse among researchers in REA, TEA, and blockchain, thereby enhancing the potential applications within these fields.

Juan Ignacio Ibañez

University College London & DLT Science Foundation

Paolo Tasca

University College London & DLT Science Foundation

Jiahua Xu

University College London & DLT Science Foundation

Chris N. Bayer

Development International

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