Australia’s Blockchain Roadmap
Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources
No longer catering for just niche products, blockchain technologies hold great potential for economic and employment opportunities across a variety of sectors.
What is blockchain?
Blockchain is an emerging category of digital infrastructure that enables distributed governance – the reliable sharing of trusted data within networks, with no single point of failure across the network. It is sometimes described as a tool for replacing ‘traditional ’ databases, but this may not necessarily be a feature of every blockchain network, as the technology can complement existing or legacy communication systems.
It may be helpful to think of blockchain as governance architecture that uses computer algorithms to enforce consensus by replacing traditional methods of data exchange and data validation, but not necessarily replacing traditional methods of data storage. Some blockchains, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, are open to the public (called ‘permissionless ’ blockchains). Other blockchains may be private (called ‘enterprise ’ or ‘permissioned ’ blockchains) and can only be used by authorised parties within a consortia.
Blockchain is a rapidly evolving industry, and the potential of the technology is still being understood. The Australian Government is exploring the potential of this emerging technology through the National Blockchain Roadmap, released in February 2020 by the Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minster for Industry, Science and Technology.
What is the National Blockchain Roadmap?
The National Blockchain Roadmap was developed in conjunction with industry and researchers to be a living document, setting out a plan to boost Australia ’s rapidly growing blockchain industry to global heights. Since the Roadmap ’s launch the Department has made significant progress implementing seven key ‘signposts ’ (see right).
The National Blockchain Roadmap Steering Committee oversees implementation of the Roadmap, along with the support of four working groups in Supply Chains, Credentialing, Cyber Security and Regtech. These industry-led working groups are exploring the current state of their use cases, and the economic opportunities they present, as well as identifying any technical, regulatory or other barriers for broader adoption of blockchain. These groups are on track to finalise their work by mid-2021.
In 2021 the Australian Government will continue actively exploring use cases for blockchain in partnership with industry. Two pilots were announced as part of the Federal Budget 2020-21 to develop blockchain-based solutions that reduce regulatory compliance burden for businesses. Up to $3 million in grant funding will be provided for each pilot. One will contribute to the National Ethical Critical Minerals Certification Scheme, and the other will focus on the food and beverage sector.
Grant guidelines for these pilots are now available via the Business Grants Hub.
Signposts for the Future
Significant progress in 6 out of 12 signposts since Roadmap ’s launch in Febuary 2020
- National Blockchain Roadmap Steering Committee is operational
- Providing advice to the sector on government support
- Engaging with other relevant government forums
- Four working groups established in credentialing, supply chains, cyber security and regtech
- Roadmap use cases progressed with $6.9 million of funding allocated to two pilot projects on reducing business compliance costs and the food and beverage sector
- APS Blockchain Network launched in November 2020 with multiple government agencies represented
- $11.4 million was committed to support new regulatory technology innovation challenges through the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII)
- Start-up capability program delivered by Austrade with landing pad in Israel, in partnership with Blockchain Australia
Further information: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources - Blockchain