Blockchain technology was invented just 12 years ago in order to provide an alternative to the centralized form of monetary transactions. However, it has had quite a journey since then, and in this short period, it has become extremely popular all over the world. It didn’t stay limited to the financial sector alone, it has been making its mark across almost every industry. As a matter of fact, global revenues from blockchain technology are expected to climb to over 39 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.
Australia was one of the first countries to have recognized the immense potential of blockchain technology and incorporated it into various sectors in the country. Nevertheless, there was not much government involvement in the sector until now. The Australian government has just started to catch up and has come up with a national blockchain roadmap as part of its five-year plan, which will very likely change the entire landscape of all industries across the country.
What is blockchain technology
Simply put, “blockchain” is a sequence of time-stamped “blocks” with digital information, stored in a shared database using cryptographic principles or “chain”. This data consists of 3 parts — transaction information, transaction participant information, and special (hash) information that distinguishes the blocks from each other.
The characteristics of blockchain technology that hold the potential to change the future
Blockchain is groundbreaking technology. This technology allows network-specific “Permissioned blockchains” to be created accessible only to members of that network. However, even within the same network, the members have the option of presenting their data while remaining completely anonymous. Blockchain removes the intermediary from any transaction which can effectively reduce the fraudulent activities and cybercrimes.
- Blockchain network is decentralized:
In a blockchain, data storage is handled by a computer cluster, all of which run independently and operate on a peer-to-peer basis. It has no central controlling authority and therefore this data is decentralized.
- The blockchain ledger is distributed across the particular network:
For every single transaction, a “block” containing information is checked by approximately millions of computers spread across the blockchain network before being added to the “chain”.
- Blockchain provides cryptographic shield:
Every member of a blockchain network owns a public key which all members see. However, the member’s identity displayed in this information is concealed with a special obfuscation called “digital signature,” which can be deciphered by only the owner using the private key given to him/her at the time of registration.
- Data origin is accurately trackable in a blockchain:
In comparison to the conventional distributed database management system, where the system administrator has complete power, ownership of a digital asset listed on a blockchain can be modified by only the proprietor. Hence the sources of all data are traceable accurately and thus are verifiable and reusable.
- Data stored in a blockchain ledger is both transparent and private, and is completely immutable:
Every node point in a blockchain has a copy of the entire history of all transactions. So any member of the blockchain network can access all data at any point of time from any location, reducing the chances of them going missing.
Furthermore, blockchain supports only “create” and “read” functions, which ensures that if data changes in one block, data changes in all subsequent blocks, and notifies the entire network. Because of this feature, once data is registered in a blockchain, it can no longer be modified by anyone without leaving a trace, leaving the data essentially immutable.
The national blockchain roadmap declared by the government of Australia
Australia has been one of the topmost leading countries in blockchain development and its applications for a very long time now. As a matter of fact, this country was the first in the world to host quite a few completely innovative blockchain applications. Australia ranks sixth internationally in blockchain-related patent filings. Through programs like Austrade trade missions, the Entrepreneur’s Programme, Australian Research Council Grants, and Business Research and Innovation Initiative pilots, the government of Australia has invested in a wide range of blockchain-related activities, including further university research in the area.
In order to further these blockchain endeavors, the Australian government’s department of the industry has recently issued new national blockchain roadmap steps for its 5-year plan that are expected to bring regulatory mechanisms, help more Australians develop blockchain skills, and grow opportunities for foreign investment and collaboration.
The 12 national blockchain roadmap steps taken by the Australian government
According to the government of Australia, the 12 national blockchain roadmap steps established in this 5-year plan will take the country towards “a blockchain empowered future”. The outline has been provided below:
- The government has changed the name of the National Blockchain Roadmap Advisory Committee to the National Blockchain Roadmap Steering Committee which will oversee the next steps regarding blockchain development. This committee will have close ties with other relevant committees as well and will advise the governing bodies on collaborations for them for a blockchain-enabled, better future.
- There will be teams created consisting of members from the working groups of industry, the research sector as well as the government to analyze the next use cases of blockchain.
- The government will examine use cases in sectors such as agriculture, education, and finance.
- A group of government blockchain users will collaborate to discuss the lessons from the existing government use cases, promote the same across the government, and come up with new ideas for blockchain applications.
- Australia will investigate the international use of blockchain and learn from its usage of the same.
- The government will work closely with blockchain providers to join the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) program and discuss the current challenges that can be solved using blockchain.
- They will include blockchain in wider policy initiatives to improve emerging digital technology management capabilities.
- The government will employ the industries and educational institutions to work together to determine common frameworks and course materials for qualification in the blockchain industry.
- The government will collaborate with the trade commission aka Austrade and create a capacity building program for Australian blockchain start-ups for them to be ready to grow globally and connect the eligible ones out of those to the Austrade funded programs.
- They will also use this collaboration with Austrade to build a blockchain-focused inbound investment program.
- Australia will utilize the current bilateral agreements with other countries to allow pilot projects.
- They will work with relevant government departments to enable Australian companies to connect with the novel digital trade networks presently being developed.
What will the future look like with this national blockchain roadmap
Before the national blockchain roadmap steps were declared by the Australian government, the implementation of blockchain in various sectors was difficult because of a lot of central regulations. Moreover, in case someone was a victim of any criminal act while using blockchain, they could not demand justice. Now that the government has reduced the regulations on the technology to a minimum, and evolved its judiciary system to accommodate it, a lot of Australian industries can freely embrace it, enabling them to be transformed completely. Here we have mentioned only two of many that will be hugely influenced by this revolutionary technology.
The agricultural supply chain
The Australian agricultural sector is extremely popular in the world because of the safe and well-regulated production of tasty and high-quality agricultural goods. However, the same characteristics of the sector also make it vulnerable to counterfeiting which involves selling fake food products and hence, the violation of respective intellectual property rights. In fact, this food fraud costs the global food industry an estimated US$40 billion each year. Australian beef brands, citrus and cherries, infant formula, and high-end Australian wine brands are few of the most affected foods, which not only poses a threat to the global consumers but also pollutes the clean and green reputation of Australia.
The entire history of a blockchain product distribution and transactions is permanently registered and shared with the whole network. Any sign of coercion, inadequate treatment, or servicing is detected in real-time. In addition, the supply chain can be traced along with the authentication of the goods, eliminating any corruption or data loss. Smart contracts can be used for transactions for added security.
Credentials and proof of identity
Australia is the world’s third-largest exporter of education, contributing a substantial share to credentials and qualifications development and export. In 2018, international education estimated $35.2 billion for the Australian economy.
Australia’s labor market is highly dependent on the proof of identity and verified credentials. The same goes for university admissions. Especially as the world becomes more digitalized, the possibility of fraud in credentials is also increasing. In addition, presenting offline credentials can also be extremely expensive and time-consuming as well.
This is where blockchain-based smart contracts will come into full effect – it can provide a very innovative solution to the worries in the recruitment department of the labor market as well as the admissions sector of the universities. The candidates can securely upload their private documents on this blockchain-powered private forum, providing them with a registration platform of portable credentials; and the recruiters and university admissions committee can easily verify them against the source which is immutable in a blockchain network. This will make background checks much simpler, much less expensive, with much more accurate information. This way, not only fraud and corruption based on fake educational or work background as well as nepotism will reduce significantly, but students or employees can join Australian universities or companies respectively from any corner of the world – which will hugely extend the markets.
Blockchain surely is a radical technology, which also means it comes with its own issues of implementation. What is more, many industries will have to disrupt themselves completely from the inside out in order to accommodate the technology. Having said so, many big names in the country of Australia have already started to welcome it as well as invested heavily in the research for the same. With government support, now it is absolutely sure that blockchain in Australia will be an integral part of every industry very soon and the world will change forever.
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