Govt blockchain working groups get to work

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The government has formed two working groups to investigate the potential for blockchain technology in supply chains and credentialing. The working groups are one of the new initiatives announced in the federal government’s blockchain roadmap, unveiled in February.

The roadmap saw the formation of the National Blockchain Roadmap Steering Committee, chaired by department of industry digital economy and technology division head Narelle Luchetti.

Its members include Blockchain Australia chief executive Steve Vallas, Digital Transformation Agency chief digital officer Peter Alexander, RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub co-directors Dr Chris Berg and Professor Jason Potts and CSIRO’s Data61 head of government business Kate Ford.

Working groups: Government blockchain efforts are getting underway

The department ran an expression of interest consultation process earlier this year to form the working groups, which will operate under the steering committee and be led by members of that committee.

The working groups will explore the current state of the identified use cases and the economic opportunities on offer with blockchain, as well as identifying regulatory or other barriers to the adoption of the technology.

The supply chains working group is looking into the potential for blockchain technology to support trusted supply chains, with an early focus on the agriculture sector. It will be co-chaired by steering committee members Ms Ford and Dr Mark Staples, with members including representatives from IBM, Ernst & Young and the National Farmers’ Federation.

The credentialing group will have an initial focus on the education sector, and will be led by the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub co-directors. Its members include representatives from Adelaide University, Deloitte and Microsoft.

The RMIT-based hub has been criticised recently by university staff members for its connections with the IPA think-tank, and for escaping the rounds of funding cuts at the institution, as The Guardian reported.

The hub has received $6 million in RMIT funding, with five of its 15 current staff being current or former members of the IPA. Dr Berg is a current IPA fellow, while Professor Potts was previously an IPA fellow.

The two working groups will each produce an initial discovery report to government early next year. Two more groups, with a focus on cybersecurity and regtech, will be formed next month.

Government representatives will also be monitoring the groups to ensure they are consulting with the relevant agencies and regulators.

The blockchain roadmap outlined how the government wanted to capitalise on the economic opportunities presented by blockchain, with 12 new initiatives over the next five years.

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