Australia joins the global wave of government-endorsed blockchain exploration.
A budget paper circulated yesterday by Australia’s treasurer and minister for finance said that the country will be pledging AUD 700,000 (around USD 521,000) to the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) for “delivering Australia’s digital future” using blockchain for government payments.
“The Government will provide $0.7 million (AUD) in 2018-19 for the Digital Transformation Agency to investigate areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for Government services,” they wrote.
According to the DTA, another AUD 92.4 million (USD 68.8 million) is allocated for digital identity, a project called Govpass.
“The 2018–19 Budget will invest in key platforms and technology to improve people’s experience of government services online, including digital identity and blockchain,” the DTA wrote.
“Govpass will provide a simple, safe and secure choice for people to verify who they are and access government services online, reducing the need to visit a shop front.”
The DTA says that this project will be pilot tested by over 500,000 people through eight high-volume government service agencies over the next year. The project will see a collaboration between three Commonwealth agencies with the following roles:
• the Digital Transformation Agency has oversight of the system, developing a set of rules called the Trusted Digital Identity Framework to accredit identity providers
• the Australian Taxation Office will be the Commonwealth’s identity provider to verify people are who they say they are
• the Department of Human Services will operate the exchange — a technology gateway between accredited identity providers and the services people use.
This adds Australia to the global wave of government-sponsored blockchain exploration. Recently, Kenya started exploring blockchain technology to settle land disputes as part of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s “Big Four” agenda for blockchain transformation: manufacturing, affordable housing, universal healthcare, and a food security plan.
Bermuda’s Premier David Burt has also recently issued statements in a bid to entice blockchain start-ups to consider setting up shop in the territory. And just yesterday, Thailand’s national stock exchange—the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) officially launched their first blockchain-based crowdfunding platform for start-ups and SMEs. Thailand’s SEC has expressed a favourable view of ICO’s last year, saying: “The SEC Thailand encourages access to funding for business, including high potential tech startups, and realizes the potential of ICO in answering startups’ funding needs.”