The Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Data61, the CSIRO’s data innovation group, have partnered to develop “smart money”, a blockchain-enabled programmable currency.

Used via a mobile app, Smart Money allows funds to have certain conditions attached to their use and is currently being trialled through a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) case study.

The trial, called “Making Money Smart”, allows money to “know” what it can be spent on and who it can be spend it through a blockchain token solution that could integrate with Australia’s New Payments Platform.

According to CommBank, the technology will empower NDIS users and enhance their financial wellbeing. The NDIS was chosen as a proof of concept because it requires “highly personalised payment conditions”, according to the bank.

A fundamental change of the NDIS is to allocate funds to people with disabilities who then select service providers, rather than the previous system where service providers received government funding to subsidise services.

“In the NDIS, participants have individualised plans that can contain multiple budget categories – each with different spending rules,” CBA said in a statement announcing Smart Money.

“The prototype app supports participants to manage their plan by enabling them to find, book and pay for services from NDIS service providers without the need for paperwork or receipts.”

Minting ‘Smart Money’

The Smart Money app was developed by CBA’s Innovation Lab, a blockchain centre of excellence in Sydney and the CSIRO’s Data61.

According to Sophie Gilder, head of experimentation and blockchain, Innovation Lab, CBA, “Programmable money represents an opportunity to re-envisage how we think about money and how payments function across the economy.

“The potential of this technology for the NDIS is exciting, ranging from greater empowerment for participants, reduced administration costs for businesses and greater visibility for Government. It’s been rewarding to collaborate with Data61 on a project that could have such a large, positive impact for the community.”

Sophie Gilder, Head of Experimentation and Blockchain, Innovation Lab, CBA and Dr Mark Staples, Senior Principal Researcher in the Software and Computational Systems program at CSIRO’s Data61.
Source: Commbank.com.au

Several stakeholders from across the disability sector, government and the finch community provided feedback on Smart Money, including the Digital Transformation Agency, the National Disability Insurance Agency, Disability Advocacy Network, Ability First Australia, National Disability Services, New Payments Platform Australia, and FinTech Australia.

“Given the complexity with the subject matter, we knew we needed to collaborate with a diverse range of government and industry leaders,” said Gilder.

“We threw open the doors and the response has far exceeded our expectations. This has been a key factor to the success of the project thus far and we are very grateful for their input.”

A report from CBA and Data61 reviewing the trial is expected to be released in November, according to the bank.

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