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Is the NZ government embracing blockchain?

Is New Zealand, the land of innovation & good ol’ No.8 wire ingenuity, at risk of being left behind in a world rapidly embracing blockchain and digital currencies?

Take a look around, the list of incredible innovations to come out of NZ is immense. A small country that frequently out shines nations 10x its size. Well known as the “Land of the long white cloud”, New Zealand is also known as “The mouse that roared”. Just look at the hits RocketLab, PowerByProxi, (Apple buys PowerByProxi), from older Hamilton Jets to modern Martin Jetpacks, agriculture and farming to whitegoods and healthcare. Fisher & Paykel, Navman and Air New Zealand are global household names, born in New Zealand.

Step into the world of banking, and the innovation and world leading initiatives are there too. New Zealand (with it’s small number of banks) became the world’s test bed for banking technology. ASB was one of the first banks in the world with Internet Banking, the first in the world with a virtual branch and their Clever Kash app plus digital Elephant lead the world in helping kids understand pocket money.

It would make sense then that New Zealand would see the emergence of blockchain technology as an opportunity to once again leap to the fore front of the world. After all, across the ditch the Australian Government has moved to embrace blockchain technology and has gone so far as to issue ICO guidance, removed GST from digital currency purchases and is tiding up the tax rules around trading in digital currencies. Australia even has a “Friends of Blockchain” parliamentary group looking at how to foster more innovation in this space, resulting in the Australian government launching projects built on blockchain technologies.

It would seem however that the New Zealand government has not moved to embrace and foster this emerging tech, a technology that could play so nicely into New Zealand’s digital future. There seems to be an underlying hostility towards blockchain businesses in New Zealand, granted this is due more to the tight connection between digital currencies (crypto currencies) and blockchain technology. In New Zealand banks are still actively closing accounts that are associated with these currencies. The IRD (New Zealand’s Inland Revenue Department) recently announced it’s updated stance on digital currencies, and while it address some issues, it still doesn’t remove the double GST, nor clarify all tax implications. This leaves the New Zealand blockchain environment behind Australia, Japan and many emerging markets who have embraced this technology.

This of course isn’t stopping the Kiwi entrepreneurs with teams like BlockChainLabs NZ bursting onto the scene to help businesses explore and embrace blockchain technology. And the incredible team behind Centrality who launched one of the world’s largest token sales in 2017 with funds in excess of US265M promised during their main sale.

Air New Zealand has taken to the blockchain looking for improvements in the way data and information in shared. Using Winding Tree (from Switzerland) Air New Zealand hopes to see data flow faster between points in a more cost effective way, leading to reduced costs for the airline and improved services for customers.

But the question remains, is the New Zealand government doing enough to embrace blockchain, fostering innovation and growth in this technology. With Brisbane Airport recently announcing they would enable crypto-payments at their retailers it feels like Australia’s approach to Blockchain & digital currencies is helping foster much more innovation in this space.

New Zealand – don’t get left behind.

It's your turn to rise up, embrace this technology and once again lead the world in the application and use of future tech.

Keran McKenzie

Keran McKenzie

Keran is fascinated by new technology & how it transforms the way we live, work & play. As Futurist-in-Residence at MYOB Keran loves helping businesses achieve success by embracing new ideas & tech.

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