Wednesday, 09 May 2018 10:28

Blockchain firms disappointed at paltry Budget allocation

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Companies involved in blockchain technology have expressed disappointment at the relatively small allocation of $700,000 in the Federal Budget for Australia's Digital Transformation Agency to explore areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for government services.

The money will be allocated from within the DTA's existing resources.

Jonathon Miller, co-founder and managing director of Bit Trade, Australia's longest running provider of bitcoin and blockchain services in Australia, was not impressed by the funds allocated.

"Blockchain is a technology that could bring very interesting efficiencies to the public sector and Bit Trade welcomes this initiative," he said. "But the quantum of spend is very low for a technology that needs scale and mass adoption to achieve these efficiencies."

CastleCoin chief executive James Lynch said: “The skills shortage in the construction space is one of the key contributors towards the current cost of infrastructure in Australia. This is simply a matter of supply and demand for skilled labour and will be negated by the investment into human capital development by way of trade, apprenticeship and education incentives."

CastleCoin is a blockchain-based, real estate investment platform built to overcome the inefficiencies in the real estate sector, including poor liquidity, high capital requirements and snowballing transfer costs.

“Already roadmaps are in place for extensive infrastructure expenditure which is fantastic for economic development. However, the adverse effect on this with respect to housing is an increase in building and construction costs as the shortage of skilled labour becomes further amplified by the increased demand for these skills," Lynch said.

“There are a number of use cases for the application of blockchain technology to supply chain management which would greatly serve to assist in the management of infrastructure projects which can greatly assist with managing costs.

“There are also use cases for and application of the management, tracking and allocation of resources through blockchain technology, in particular human capital. Accessible records of skills and qualifications often improve resource allocation.

“Another great benefit of blockchain application is transparency and auditability which will serve not only the decision-making process but the population's confidence in the allocation of resources and development which is crucial in today's political climate.”

Katrina Donaghy, co-founder and chief executive of Civic Ledger, said: "Governments are important customers for Australian start-ups as gaining validation of your product by securing a federal government agency as a client sets up a pathway to commercial success which is good news for the economy and creating jobs for the future."

Civic Ledger works with governments globally on the use of blockchain technologies to solve specific business problems where blockchain is advantageous over traditional legacy technologies.

Donaghy said the funds allocation sent a strong signal that the government was in the business of working with Australian start-ups to explore the potential of blockchain technology to deliver efficiencies and savings.

"I am hopeful that next year the federal government will identify blockchain technology as a key enabler to deliver easier, faster and more secure and transparent government services to customers and a similar budget would be approved like this year’s $29.9 million which has been set aside for AI and machine learning to also develop a technology roadmap to support the work Standards Australia is undertaking to deliver blockchain standards to be adopted not only in Australia, but also internationally," she said.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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