Vic govt eyes blockchain’s potential

State’s department of economic development joins digital currency association

The Victorian government has become a member of Australian Digital Currency and Commerce Association (ADCCA) through the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

The government is looking to partner with the organisation “to explore the potential application and impact of blockchain across the economy, including but not limited to the financial services, health and food sectors,” the state’s minister for small business, innovation and trade, Philip Dalidakis, told Computerworld.

Blockchain is the distributed ledger technology (DLT) that underpins Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies.

“Backed by the strength of our digital technology sector, Victoria’s fintech sector and its capabilities are growing, and so is our global reputation for developing innovative solutions using blockchain, cyber security and wealth management technologies,” Dalidakis said.

“Victoria has always been the ideas capital of Australia, with world renowned research institutes and universities and a proud history of bringing brilliant ideas and concepts to fruition.”

Earlier this year, IBM, Optus and Australia Post also joined the association.

“Through the ADCCA we are connecting Victoria's fintech startups and entrepreneurs to the Global Blockchain Forum, a platform that facilitates collaboration between the world's leading digital currency and commerce associations — the United States, United Kingdom and Singapore,” Dalidakis said.

“This will give our fintech startups and entrepreneurs the best possible chance of succeeding.”

Victoria is home to a number of thriving fintech startups, the minister added, citing Timelio, Assembly Payments, Moula, Sixpark and Clover as examples.

Along with Austrade and the NSW government, the Victorian government, through Trade Victoria, earlier this month backed an Australian delegation to the Consensus 2017 conference. Consensus is an annual blockchain technology conference staged in the US by CoinDesk.

Interest in using blockchain-style approaches to transaction processing is not confined to startups in Australia.

In March, Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba announced it had partnered with Australia Post and ASX-listed supplement company Blackmores on an Australian pilot employing blockchain to combat counterfeit and fraudulent food products.

The anti-fraud technology will eventually be rolled out around the world, Alibaba said.

Australia’s major banks have indicated they are also interested in exploring the potential of DLT. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has revealed details of a number of experiments it has conducted with blockchain, including developing ‘smart contracts’ and issuing bonds.

This month energy retailer AGL revealed details of a plan to stage a desktop trial of blockchain-based peer-to-peer energy trading by households. The trial is supported by Arena, IBM and Marchment Hill Consulting.

The ASX is preparing to make a decision on whether DLT can replace its CHESS system (CHESS provides clearing, settlement and asset registration services for the exchange).

Australia’s corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), says it expects the potential uses of DLT to grow “exponentially” over time. The federal government plans to change the tax treatment of Bitcoin and similar digital currencies from 1 July.

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Tags victorian governmentVictoriaBitcoinBlockchaindistributed ledger technology

More about AustraliaAustralian Securities and Investments CommissionAustralia PostBlackmoresCommonwealth BankCommonwealth Bank of AustraliaDepartment of Economic DevelopmentDLTIBMOptusTransport

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