Today the Australian government announced plans to develop a national blockchain roadmap, as well as contributing Australian dollars (AUD) 100,000 ($71,000) for international travel to conferences.
The intention is to map out several policies areas such as ‘regulation, skills and capacity building, innovation, investment, international competitiveness and collaboration’. Both the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham commented that the policy roadmap aims to ensure that Australia’s blockchain industry exploits the opportunities that blockchain presents.
Additionally, the new funding from the government would allow Australian companies to join Austrade’s Mission to the Consensus Blockchain conference in New York.
Over the past year, multiple blockchain initiatives have been initiated in the government sector. In 2018-19, AUD 700,000 were invested in the Digital Transformation Agency to explore the potential of using blockchain for government payments. The government granted a further AUD 350,000 to Standards Australia to help develop international blockchain standards.
In July 2018, IBM signed a five year AUD 1 billion deal with the Australian government to integrate cutting edge technologies across departments with the aim of improving data security, efficiencies and automation. Blockchain is one of those technologies.
The government has a corporate entity, The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), focused on scientific research. Its Data61 innovation wing is spearheading multiple government blockchain initiatives including building a legal contracting platform called the Australian National Blockchain.
Data61 is also working with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to trial a blockchain-based payment system for ‘smart money’ for disability support services.
And the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac), a government financial intelligence agency, is testing a blockchain prototype for the automation of their international funds transfer instructions.