CSIRO’s Data61 and Treasury join forces to examine the blockchain

Blockchain expected to change the way Australia’s economy operates

CSIRO’s Data61 and the Federal Government Treasury have teamed up to examine the implications of adopting ‘blockchain’ technology - a move that could enhance the services of both government and industry, and deliver significant gains for the economy.

Blockchain technology, which underpins the Bitcoin digital currency system, utilises powerful algorithms, and allows multiple independent parties to share digital information or transact with one another, using distributed or shared ledgers.

As part of the project, the collaborating duo will undertake a detailed study over the next nine months to determine the implications for both government and industry. The study will examine both trends in the uptake of blockchain technology and distributed ledgers, and future possible scenarios in Australia.

Data61’s expert blockchain research team is headed by Liming Zhu and Mark Staples, with strategic foresight input from Stefan Hajkowicz from the Data61 Foresighting Team.

Hajkowicz said in a statement that a number of potential ‘proof of concept’ projects will be evaluated in conjunction with industry experts and across government.

“There are currently a few potential areas where we could explore opportunities – such as sharable registry information, verifiable supply chains and assessment of aggregate risk exposure in the financial services sector,” Hajkowicz said.

“In fact, there are also potential applications for this technology that extend well beyond the financial industry... we are excited to explore, develop and apply the technology in both financial and non-financial industry, in consultation with industry and government."

Additionally, Data61 will explore the potential benefits for the Australian economy, and the skills Australia might require to become a global leader as blockchain technology becomes more prevalent. It will also explore potential legislative and regulatory implications, such as privacy considerations.

The review will look to provide practical use cases where blockchain technology could be piloted in government services and the private sector.

“Deployment of such technology could be most promising in government delivery applications," Hajkowicz said.

"Blockchain is certainly an example of a technology that has the potential to disrupt or change the way not only financial services transactions are carried out, but also those across virtually any other sector, including government.”

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