he re-election of the Turnbull Government is likely to see a renewed focus on the "Innovation Agenda" to improve the competitiveness of the Australian economy and create the businesses and jobs of the future.
Blockchain technology has the potential to be THE major driver of micro-economic reform. Core economic processes can be re-engineered to deliver greater efficiency and improved service and set free a wave of experimentation and innovation.
But this will require an active national strategy that brings together industry and government to create the economic systems of the 21st century.
ADCCA proposes a three-part plan to leverage the transformative impact of blockchain:
1. CO-ORDINATED REGULATORY REVIEW
Many Australian regulatory agencies, perhaps led by ASIC and AUSTRAC, are responding commendably to the rise of blockchain technology. And the Government has flagged its intention to update GST laws and formally extend AML/CTF laws to the digital currency sector.
These are all important steps. However, on their own, they are insufficient to truly encourage the flourishing of blockchain innovation. Important questions such as the scope of the AFSL regime, the impact of Privacy laws or something as seemingly simple as a consistent definition of 'digital currency' across different Acts remain obstacles.
Removing one growth-constraining barrier alone does not allow an entrepreneur to expand their business. It simply means they must turn their attention to the next barrier.
A co-ordinated national strategy to review key regulatory areas with a clear goal to achieve genuine technology neutrality within one year will provide the regulatory certainty essential for innovation.
2. START MOVING GOVERNMENT REGISTRIES 'ON-CHAIN'
The myriad government-operated registries that are embedded with a modern economy have long been identified as prime candidates for renewal using blockchain technology.
In Australia, most of those registries work pretty well and the scourge of official corruption that is a major driver of reform overseas is thankfully rare. However, justified satisfaction can too easily become complacency.
Progressively identifying key government registries - in many cases operated by State governments - and redesigning them using blockchain offers several important benefits.
Firstly, it provides government service delivery bodies with the rare opportunity to improve both the efficiency AND quality of service.
Secondly, it creates an opportunity to learn and experiment so as to better understand where blockchain technology is most useful - and where it is not. Starting with less important systems the knowledge and confidence gained can lead to bigger transformations.
Third, it will boost the growth of the blockchain application development community, attracting talent and investment to create much sought after hubs of innovation and entrepreneurship.
And, most profoundly, the movement of government registries on-chain will create new, 'tradable' electronic assets which will serve as the foundations of whole new business ideas that can hardly even be imagined today.
3. BEGIN DESIGNING THE ECONOMIC ECO-SYSTEM OF TOMORROW
The most compelling feature of blockchain technology is the ability to link together multiple participants in a transaction or a system using shared and mutually trusted data.
Blockchain solutions can offer real benefits within a single business or government agency but it is the opportunity to redesign the systems that operate BETWEEN businesses and governments where the business case payoffs become really exciting.
This reality has been recognised by the various business consortia that are starting to emerge, such as R3.
But Government has a vital interest in how these new systems - impacting everything from payments to identity to medic
al records to property title and transfer just to name a few - evolve. Not only is Government a major participant in those systems but it has the responsibility to ensure that they develop in ways that encourage competition, improve efficiency and enhance the lives of citizens.
Data61 has begun some important work to 'vision' how these new systems might work. A boost to that effort that consciously includes industry and civil society stakeholders as collaborators will accelerate the evolution of new economic systems and ensure that work well for all.
Together these initiatives will give a kick-start to entrepreneurship and business innovation and create the foundation for a more competitive economy and more prosperous society.