Australia is looking to cement its position as one of the world’s earliest adopters of widespread blockchain technology, as it follows up successful trials with trade around the world with a national blockchain strategy.
The Australian government’s scientific research department, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), confirmed that the national strategy is set for all businesses to access and use, with the aim of providing transparent and easily trackable trade and facilitating more efficient business practices.
CSIRO, which has operated as a federal agency independent of the government since 1916, will lead the blockchain strategy. Some of its key work in the past has involved introducing a wide range of useful tools, including Wi-Fi, polymer banknotes and even insect repellant currency.
In 2017, it launched a partnership with Data61, which specifically looks at digital innovation tools and research.
CSIRO and Data61 will be working in tandem with computer intelligence giant IBM, which developed the Australian National Blockchain (ANB). Herbert Smith Freehills, a legal firm based in Australia and the UK, is also involved.
The groups hope to encourage businesses to get on board with blockchain, as it allows for smart contracts that participants can lock and verify digitally to help keep financial transactions safe.
The ANB is a further step toward a full rollout of the Internet of Things (IoT), where processes used in everyday life connect virtually, which allows for more comprehensive datasets to spot trends and build more efficient operations.
Dr Mark Staples, Senior Research Scientist at Data61, commented that this news is particularly useful for “complex enterprise contracts.” Because enterprises have so many details and processes to put into these contracts, they will all “benefit from our research into blockchain architecture and computational law.”
Australia has been a hub for blockchain development in the last couple of years, and the ANB is a big step for bringing it to mainstream attention. Just last year, IBM opened its Blockchain Center in the country, which offers advocacy and research from its base in Melbourne.
The biggest hurdle in moving forward resolved just last month. July saw a major trial between international world banks, which tracked several global transactions that passed through several companies in the supply chain. This was a success, and it has allowed the ANB program to progress.
Paul Hutchison, VP and Partner at IBM Global Business Services, which specializes in cognitive process transformation, said that “blockchain will be to transactions what the Internet was to communication.” He heralded the progress seen so far and noted that momentum will cause it to become “transformational once adoption is widespread.”
Hutchison added: “The ANB could be that inflection point for blockchain,” which should enable greater “innovation and economic development throughout Australia.”
The developers of the ANB have also enlisted legal specialists to ensure that the entire process is watertight and will not fall foul of any regulations. Blockchain and Smart Legal Contract Lead at Herbert Smith Freehills, Natasha Blycha, noted how the people that the company works with are “excited about process automation” and allowing fully digital movements away from paper trails with a way to “simplify supply chains and quickly and securely share information with customers and regulators.”