Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Matthew Magilke

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© 2018 John C Ortman


“In the future, virtually every function in the world of financial services will be displaced, disintermediated and decentralized. The Internet gave us a powerful way to share and access information. Blockchain now gives us a powerful way to share and access value.”

During a February 2017 AICPA roundtable, Chairman of the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance and previous Global Head of Trading Analytics at Thomson Reuters, Ron Quarantana spoke to the revolutionary scale of blockchain. Quaranta, viewed by many as an expert in financial technology, predicts that the adoption of blockchain, both by the Big Four accounting firms and their clients, will disrupt the accounting industry by greatly reducing the time and skill needed to perform a quality audit. Some, such as Thomson Reuters’ Jon Baron, even claim that blockchain may eliminate the need for financial statement audits altogether. To many, blockchain is synonymous with Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that, over the past three years, has returned 3,310%, compared to 35% and 36% returns of the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), respectively. Blockchain, however, is much more than Bitcoin, with applications stretching further than cryptocurrency. Rather, it is a peer-to-peer hosted public ledger that does not require a central authority to support or verify transactions, and is unalterable in future periods. In this study, I propose to examine what blockchain technology means for the 887,000 people currently employed by the Big Four. More specifically, I seek to expand upon whether the potential adoption of blockchain in the coming years will reduce audit fees, impact audit quality, or perhaps do away with the audit completely.

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