Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has been revising its position on blockchain technology after the Australian government ordered an inquiry into its uses earlier this year.
The basis of the DTA research funded by the Federal Government to the tune of AUD 700,000 (USD 530,000) was to research blockchain, and see how it could be used to improve government services, including welfare payments. The investigation was ordered by Australia’s former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull before he was overturned last month.
Originally, social security and welfare payments by Centrelink were targeted for an overhaul, perhaps by using DLT. The DTA felt at the time that there were significant advantages of delivering social security welfare to citizens over a blockchain. Centrelink, part of the Department of Health Services (DHS), is responsible for a range of payments, particularly those relating to unemployment, pensions, and health.
It appears after the investigation, the government is less likely to be ready for taking the next move, which would see blockchain utilized among a range of government department services. At a recent Senate estimates hearing, DTA chief digital officer Peter Alexander said:
“It’s an interesting technology but it’s early on in the development. It’s at the top of a hype cycle. A lot of the engagement [with the agencies] is comparing blockchain against existing technologies… without standardization and a lot more work, for every use of blockchain that you would consider today there is a better technology.”
Alexander claimed that blockchain promotion lay at the feet of vendors who had been pushing the technology rather than central governments and users and deliverers of blockchain services.
It appears that the Australian stock market is more impressed than the government with DLT after the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) stated earlier this year that it has plans to replace its current clearing and settlement system with a DLT model within the next two years.
The current system, the Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS) which has been used by ASX since the 1990s, will be replaced with blockchain technology possibly in 2020.
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