March 19, 2018

Australian government & blockchain

Is Australia ready for blockchain? What is the government doing to foster innovation in the blockchain space?

Australian government & blockchain

Last week (March 13th - 15th) saw the gathering of hundreds of blockchain aficionados in Melbourne Australia for the 2nd running of the APAC Blockchain conference.

This year's conference saw a solid line up of international guests, founders of some of the worlds most popular blockchains and leaders from the Australian government and corporations, all here with one purpose - open and honest discussion about the potential in blockchain technology.

Australian government embracing blockchain

We were treated to a solid contingent of speakers from various Australian agencies, including ASIC, AUSTRAC and Data61 (not to mention Greg Medcraft, Director of Financial & Enterprise affairs from OECD - formally ASIC's Chairman). The Australian government gets a lot of grief, but when it comes to some aspects of blockchain (and yes, cryptocurrencies) they are leading the world. They listed off 5 or 6 blockchain solutions that are already making an impact, and one that caught my attention was the work to prevent fraud in beef. Yes, they are putting beef on the chain! This makes perfect sense of course, as supply chain (understanding where items come from - down to the farm & paddock, where they are now, and where they are going) is one of the key foundational applications for blockchain.

You have to hand it to a government where the senators launched (Aug 2017) an official parliamentary group called:

Friends of blockchain

There was tangible passion reflected in the conversations as each government speaker talked of the immense opportunity blockchain technology presents to Australia.

Levelling the playing field

Much work has been done (with still more to do) by government to reduce cost, increase transparency and simplify interactions between businesses and government. The launch of the Digital Market Place lays the foundation for this. But does it work?

The answer is yes, the government is serious about giving new businesses (aka: startups, scale-ups) a chance - the team from Civic Ledger shared how they pitched and won a project with the government, before they even had a single line of code.

ICOs it's a discussion

A key takeaway was the discussion around regulation, standards, and ICOs. Australia already has some really good guidance around ICOs (read ASIC's info-sheet 225 - ICO guidance), however we all know that guidance is often informative rather than prescriptive. The official line from ASIC on stage was:

Read the info-sheet and form your own opinion on it. Then come to us and have a discussion. We want to hear from you

Innovation nation

The unspoken message was of a government embracing new technology; putting citizens at the center, welcoming discussion and fostering innovation. It's not all plain sailing of course, but the positive sentiment from the government about blockchain technology was strong and encouraging.

Australia is in a great place to capitalise on blockchain technology

The time is now. The discussions are happening. Australia is ready. Are you asking the same question the Australian government is asking?

How can blockchain technology help my business, my customers, my suppliers, my partners?

If you're not asking that, you can bet your next bitcoin that your competitor is.