The Australian government has released its national blockchain roadmap, outlining how it plans to extract economic value from the immutable record technology. Parts of the local industry have welcomed the plan while others have branded it “disappointing”.
The roadmap cites research claiming blockchain technology will generate in excess of US$3 trillion by 2030. To get a slice of that Australia needs to overcome challenges around regulations and standards, local skills, and international investment and collaboration, according to the government report, which outlines 12 initiatives to work towards over the next five years.
It also explores three specific local sectors where blockchain could generate particular value in Australia: education, financial, and agricultural.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews launched the report on Friday, calling for a collaborative approach going forward.
“Blockchain technology offers great potential to save money, initiate new business and export opportunities, boost economic growth and create new jobs. Governments and private industries all stand to benefit from embracing this technology,” Andrews said.
“Employment opportunities in blockchain are growing substantially, with rapid growth in job advertisements since 2016.”
The roadmap sets a national plan for the next five years, including the establishment of a national blockchain steering committee, working groups, blockchain qualifications, startup and investment programs, and advancing international blockchain pilots and trade infrastructure.
Where blockchain adds value in Australia
Relatively early in the roadmap one initiative calls for a full economic analysis of one specific local blockchain use case, wine exports and credentialing, as well as exploring a pilot program for financial services regulation. The government report also later identifies trusted credentials management in universities as another area where blockchain can add value.
The three use cases are showcased in the report but little detail is given on how blockchain will add value, according to blockchain adviser and FinTech Australia chair Alan Tsen.
“Overall I found it a little disappointing. It lacked vision and really focused on use cases that felt like they’ve been written by a consulting firm space,” Tsen told InnovationAus yesterday.
“Both the sections on the supply chain and university credentialing felt like blockchain tech was shoe-horned in – the classic ‘technology looking for a problem’ analysis that plagues the blockchain.”
There is more promise in the government’s third proposal, the application of blockchain to financial regulation, including Know Your Customer and Anti Money Laundering, according to Tsen.
Industry group welcome progress
Blockchain Australia, a local industry group with members including IBM, Bitcoin Australia, and the major consultancies, welcomed the report.
“This is a critical step in advancing blockchain innovation in Australia,” said Blockchain Australia CEO, Nicholas Giurietto. “We are delighted to have contributed to the development of the Roadmap through our participation in the Advisory Committee.”
“The Roadmap identifies the enormous potential economic benefit of the strategic deployment of blockchain technology in Australia – particularly in the areas of supply chain, educational qualifications and credentials and identity. It provides a pathway for Australia to ensure that it gets our share of the $3 trillion dollars of business benefit that will be generated globally by 2030.”
Giurietto said the standout initiative of the 12 in the roadmap was the establishment of a model for collaboration between government, industry and academia to progress local use cases.