Australia is fast becoming a leader in blockchain/cryptocurrency research and development

Australia is fast becoming a leader in blockchain/cryptocurrency research and development

In the 2018 Australian Federal budget released by the government on Tuesday, some fintechs would have been delighted to see that the Government will provide $700k “to investigate areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for Government services”. While there are those who are disappointed that more was not designated for blockchain research, Australia has amassed itself a good track record that suggests it will be a leader in future blockchain research and development.

The Government has already displayed a healthy involvement in blockchain encouragement, giving over $8million to a blockchain project for the demonstration of integrating various technology platforms to deliver energy and water efficiency outcomes. RMIT University also boasts an impressive blockchain course, teaming up with both Stone & Chalk as well as Accenture, two big international names in the blockchain industry. One of the four big banks, has been actively looking at the implementation of blockchain across various areas from government bonds to the facilitation of cotton shipment. Even Australian farmers have jumped onboard, looking at the implementation of blockchain to track produce from paddock to plate.

Australia is also looking at making the country more friendly for blockchain related operations, with a deal to potentially cut the costs of power by 20%. This will greatly increase the prospect of international specialists taking Australia seriously, with current power costs too high to make blockchain operations efficient.

Additionally, despite only being ranked 14th internationally for BTC volume, Australia has also always been mostly positive and upfront with its position on cryptocurrencies. In 2016, the Government announced it was committed to address the issue surrounding the “double taxation” of cryptocurrencies. From 1 July 2017, it was announced that in Australia cryptocurrency was considered legal tender, and as a result there would be no further double taxation of crypto. May 2018, ASIC updated its position on ICOs and cryptocurrencies, striking a balance to protect investors of ICOs that meet the required definitions as outlined by them. This includes making ICOs more accountable for the accuracy of their whitepapers. The information collected and reported to AUSTRAC will help ensure that criminal activity is caught and minimised, establishing as part of its approval process that an exchange receives an Australian Financial Services Licence.

An increasing number of Australian businesses such as Globe Electronics in Melbourne, are also allowing the purchasing of goods with cryptocurrencies. This includes high-end appliances such as laptops and TVs.

There is still a way to go, but while some countries are still arguing about the benefit of digital assets, Australia is undeniably paving the way for finding a balance between regulation and the promotion of growth through the incorporation of technology such as blockchain.