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Blockchain 2030: A Look at the Future of Blockchain in Australia

Technical Report

Blockchain 2030: A Look at the Future of Blockchain in Australia

Abstract and Figures

Trends and Scenarios for Blockchain Technology Uptake in Australia out to 2030
Content may be subject to copyright.
April 2019
Blockchain 2030
A Look at the Future of Blockchain
in Australia
Report prepared by Alexandra Bratanova, Dinesh Devaraj, Joanna Horton, Claire
Naughtin, Ben Kloester, Kelly Trinh, Ingo Weber and David Dawson
CITATION
Bratanova, A., Devaraj, D., Horton, J., Naughtin, C., Kloester, B., Trinh, K., Weber, I.,
Dawson, D. (2019) Blockchain 2030: A Look at the Future of Blockchain in Australia.
CSIRO Data61: Brisbane, Australia.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We are grateful for the many individuals who kindly offered their time, expertise and
resources in this project. In particular, we thank the members of CSIRO’s Data61 who
kindly provided blockchain use cases for this report. We also thank the individuals
who participated in the stakeholder workshop and interviews conducted as part of
this project, as well as to the reviewers of the report draft including ACS Blockchain
Committee members. Special thanks to Neil Alexander, Kevin Brown, Karen Cohen,
Katrina Donaghy, Vincent Gramoli, Robert Hanson, Davor Miskulin, Mick Motion-
Wise and Mark Staples for their constructive feedback on the draft report. We also
thank Burning Glass Technologies for their assistance in navigating the online job
advertisement data.
Finally, we are grateful to Melissa Johnston and Dmitry Bratanov from Queensland
University of Technology for their help with the design and 3D printing of the
scenario model.
CURRENCY CONVERSION
All dollar values indicate AUD figures unless specified otherwise. AUD figures were
converted from other currencies wherever it was methodologically sound to do so.
Past and present conversions were done using a yearly average exchange rate for the
relevant year, whereas forecast value conversions were done using 2018’s average
exchange rate since November 2017.
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER
CSIRO advises that the information contained in this publication comprises general
statements based on scientific research. The reader is advised and needs to be aware
that such information may be incomplete or unable to be used in any specific situation.
No reliance or actions must therefore be made on that information without seeking
prior expert professional, scientific and technical advice. To the extent permitted
by law, CSIRO (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any
person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs,
expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using this
publication (in part or in whole) and any information or material contained in it.
CSIRO is committed to providing web-accessible content wherever possible.
If you are having difficulties with accessing this document please contact
csiroenquiries@csiro.au.
Andrew Johnson
Chief Executive
Officer, ACS
Yohan Ramasundara
President, ACS
Few technologies in recent memory have been as polarising
as blockchain, with positions divided into camps of
‘blockchain evangelists’ and ‘blockchain sceptics’. The
distributed ledger technology – originally developed for
the Bitcoin cryptocurrency – has been billed as holding the
potential to revolutionise the internet and change the very
nature of trust.
Even as the frenzy around Bitcoin has died down, blockchain has started
to be deployed across Australia by start-ups, government agencies and
large corporates. Exciting start-ups like AgriDigital are deploying it for
the purpose of provenance tracking. Major financial institutions like the
Commonwealth Bank are deploying it as a trusted B2B fintech platform.
The government has created blockchains that store smart contracts for
use by businesses and individuals.
ACS’ December 2018
Blockchain Innovation – A Patent Analytics Report
outlined that blockchain patent filings have grown 140% or more each
year since 2013. Australia ranks sixth globally with 49 patent families in
blockchain, with patents divided into two broader functional categories:
Applications – solving problems in payments and transaction
systems, financial services, business administration, and shopping
and commerce.
Data processing – solving problems in encryption and security,
networking and data transmission, data manipulation, management
and interrogation.
In undertaking this body of work, we wanted to investigate our instincts
that investments in blockchain did not necessarily represent the growing
capabilities of the technology, but more the excessive hype surrounding it.
By doing this, we are applying the Gartner Hype Cycle lens, which suggests
that any new technology initially generates a massive amount of hype and
inflates expectations before almost invariably being followed by a ‘trough
of disillusionment’, where it fails to meet hyperbolic expectations.
This report has been initiated to determine whether we have entered that
trough of disillusionment, and to inform how Australia can become a world
leader, being that catalyst for blockchain to enter a plateau of productivity.
We would like to thank the Data61 Foresight team for undertaking
this investigation, and consulting with ACS and other blockchain
experts domestically and internationally through a series of interviews
and a validation workshop, to provide an evidence-based insight
into plausible futures, and inform our technology, business and
government leaders on enablers that can be enacted for Australia to
become a global leader in blockchain.
Foreword
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 1
Contents
Executive
summary 4
Overview of
blockchain 12
Why now? The evolution
of social and economic
trust 15
Regulating blockchains 16
Current profile of
Australian blockchain
industry and skills 17
Blockchain activity in
Australia 18
Industry profile of blockchain
activity 19
The workforce of blockchain
professionals 21
Introduction:
Blockchain
beyond Bitcoin 8
01
02
03
Future trends
shaping blockchain
in Australia 24
Technological and
environmental trends 25
Economic trends 30
Geopolitical trends 32
Social trends 34
04
2
Future scenarios
for blockchain
application 37
Axes of critical impact
and uncertainty 39
Plausible blockchain
adoption scenarios 41
05
Strategic implications
and actions 50
Australia’s competitive
advantage 51
The transition period 53
06
Conclusion 55
07
Appendix A:
Strategic foresight
methodology 58
Appendix B:
Regulatory measures
for blockchain 60
Appendix C:
Approach used in
labour and industry
analyses 62
Appendix D:
High-profile use cases
of blockchain in
Australia 63
References 64
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 3
Blockchain technology is a distributed ledger
technology whereby a database is distributed
across numerous users, and changes to the
database are validated by consensus among the
users. While it is best known as the platform
for Bitcoin, blockchain technology can be widely
applied to improve business processes, increase
transparency, and drive the creation of new jobs
and industries.
Over the last decade, blockchain
technology has grown in
popularity and use, and has
already begun to disrupt existing
markets in Australia and around
the world. The opportunities
blockchain presents have been
invested in, studied, explored, and
considered, in almost all sectors
of the economy. Blockchain
has attracted significant public
and private investment, and
introduced previously non-
existent products and services
across multiple industries.
Despite its potential, there is
significant uncertainty regarding
future adoption of blockchain
technology in Australia. For
instance, there are unknowns
around blockchain’s capacity to
work at scale while remaining
decentralised, and protect
confidentiality whilst also
being transparent. The extent
to which the public will trust
decentralised systems is also
uncertain. These uncertainties
raise the question: can
blockchain progress beyond the
hype to deliver tangible, high-
value applications and a thriving
industry for Australia, or will
blockchain amount to little more
than a market bubble?
Executive
summary
4
Using the Gartner Technology Hype Cycle (see Figure 1), this report investigates plausible futures for
the adoption of blockchain technology in Australia out to 2030, with a particular focus on Australia’s
emerging blockchain industry and workforce. Using strategic foresight methodologies, it aims to identify
critical risks, challenges and opportunities for Australia’s blockchain industry and assist stakeholders in
developing informed strategic responses to these potential futures. Two specific techniques under the
umbrella of strategic foresight are employed in this report—horizon scanning and scenario planning.
These techniques are used in combination to craft and communicate a narrative about the future of
blockchain adoption in Australia.
Expectations / benefits
Innovation
trigger
Peak of inflated
expectations
Trough of
disillusionment
Slope of
enlightenment
Plateau of
productivity
Estimated position
of blockchain
technology in 2018
Blockchain
Blockbuster
Ozzy
Blocky
Blockchain
Superstition
Block-what?
FIGURE 1. PLAUSIBLE FUTURE SCENARIOS FOR BLOCKCHAIN, MODELLED AGAINST THE GARTNER
TECHNOLOGY HYPE CYCLE
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 5
WHERE ARE WE AT, AND
WHERE ARE WE GOING?
To understand the future,
we need to understand the
present state of the Australian
blockchain industry. An analysis
of 138 blockchain activities
in Australia shows a general
upwards trajectory, with
most of this activity coming
from small-to-medium-sized
businesses in New South Wales
and Victoria. Further analyses
of the current state of the
blockchain workforce point to a
clear skill gap, with demand for
blockchain-related skills rapidly
increasing, despite the limited
supply of skilled talent from
information and communication
technology domains.
This report also identifies future
trends that are likely to influence
the development and adoption of
blockchain in Australia over the
coming decade. These include
the following:
Supported by increasing
computational power,
blockchain technology
is becoming more
sophisticated, efficient
and user-friendly.
However, it shows signs
of limited scalability.
Current high levels of
energy consumption
by public blockchains
with proof-of-work
consensus mechanisms,
as well as broader digital
infrastructure and cyber
security concerns for the
technology in general, may
prove problematic for future
blockchain adoption.
Alongside the rise of
platform businesses and the
‘sharing economy’, there
is growing interest and
investment in blockchain
as a decentralised, peer-
to-peer solution with
the potential to deliver
significant cost savings.
While there is booming
global demand for
blockchain developers,
a short supply of talent
may limit future growth of
blockchain-related products,
services and industries.
Blockchain presents
opportunities for more
transparent and efficient
governance methods,
but also increased risks
associated with scams
and illegal activities. The
Asia-Pacific region holds
key blockchain export
opportunities for Australia,
along with increased
competition for both talent
and technology development.
In parallel with rising
economic inequality, trust
in centralised institutions is
eroding. Many people now
have lower trust in social
and traditional media, banks
and governments to report
the truth, protect privacy,
and act in the interests
of everyday people. Given
this context, blockchain
and other decentralised
technologies may be
increasingly preferred to
traditional intermediaries.
SCENARIOS FOR
BLOCKCHAIN
TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION
IN AUSTRALIA
The trends raise key
uncertainties: to what extent will
blockchain technology advance?
Will social trust shift decisively
away from traditional institutions
and towards decentralised
systems? Will the blockchain
offer significant cost efficiency
compared to legacy systems?
This report explores eight
scenarios for future adoption
of blockchain technology in
Australia out to 2030 (see
Figure 2). The scenarios are
designed to challenge current
perspectives, define and explore
key uncertainties, and provide a
common set of shared narratives
for industry, government and
community stakeholders.
FUTURE STRATEGIC
IMPLICATIONS AND
ACTIONS
These trends and scenarios
highlight key risks, challenges
and opportunities for future
blockchain adoption in Australia
over the coming decade. This
report explores the implications
of these findings for future
strategic decisions concerning
the Australian blockchain
industry, including:
Leveraging Australia’s areas
of competitive advantage
in blockchain technology
by (i) developing the
appropriate skills mix, (ii)
growing the information and
communication technology
talent pool, (iii) addressing
the blockchain knowledge
gap, and (iv) resolving digital
infrastructure bottlenecks.
Successfully transitioning
Australian industries and
businesses by (i) meeting
the regulatory challenge, (ii)
assisting businesses with
the transition, (iii) adopting
a rolling strategy approach,
(iv) developing a plan to
manage cyber security, and
6
(v) using research and data
to drive decision-making.
This report provides multiple
views of the future of blockchain
adoption in Australia and
the impact this could have
on existing and emerging
industries and businesses. By
understanding the potential
FIGURE 2. PLAUSIBLE FUTURE SCENARIOS FOR BLOCKCHAIN ADOPTION IN AUSTRALIA
risks that the future could hold—
as well as the opportunities
that blockchain technology
could provide for the Australian
economy—government and
industry can make more
informed decisions that best
position the nation for decades
to come.
Blockchain Blockbuster
Blockchain technology has advanced to a high
level, enabling scaled solutions at minimal cost.
Social trust has shifted away from conventional
institutions and toward decentralised systems.
Australia is a world leader in blockchain
development and adoption, but there have been job
losses along the way.
Low cost efficiency
• Widespread use of
private blockchains, and
some public blockchain
use.
• High costs mean that
industries search for
alternative distributed
ledger solutions.
High cost efficiency
• Low costs drive wide
adoption of public and
private blockchains.
• Blockchains are used
for data-producing and
data-storing processes
where relational
databases are
unsuitable.
Trust in existing institutions Trust in decentralised systems
Ozzy Blocky
Blockchain technology has advanced significantly,
to become highly scalable and secure. Australia
has gained competitive advantages in the global
blockchain industry, and is a world leader and
exporter of blockchain solutions and products.
However, domestic adoption lags as social trust is
still placed largely in existing institutions.
Low cost efficiency
• High perceived costs
have stifled domestic
adoption.
• Blockchain is both an
export opportunity and a
brain drain risk for the
Australian industry.
High cost efficiency
• Cost-efficiency
benefits outweigh low
trust in blockchain
technology, with some
firms adopting private
blockchains.
• Mistrust among
consumers remains
high.
High technology advancement
Blockchain Superstition
Technical problems continue to hinder blockchain
performance and scalability. However, the high
degree of distrust in conventional institutions
spurs blockchain adoption regardless of the
technology’s constraints. Low levels of blockchain
core skills mean that Australia becomes an
importer of blockchain technology.
Low cost efficiency
• High transaction and
transition costs for
blockchain adoption.
• Growing trust in
blockchain as an alterna-
tive to established
intermediaries spurs
many firms to adopt
private blockchains.
High cost efficiency
• Despite high costs for
scaled blockchain
solutions, the costs of
transitioning have
lowered due to wide
adoption.
• Private blockchain
solutions are the norm
for intra-firm operations.
Trust in existing institutions Trust in decentralised systems
Block-what?
Blockchain technology has failed to advance and
offer tangible, competitive market products.
People generally do not trust decentralised
systems, and prefer established intermediaries.
‘Blockchain’ is considered just another buzzword,
and there is little chance that the technology will
reach the ‘plateau of productivity’ in Australia.
Low cost efficiency
• Cost of transitioning
from legacy systems is
high, especially
considering low rates of
domestic expertise.
• Blockchain is not
considered a viable
business solution.
High cost efficiency
Transition costs for
private blockchains are
manageable.
• Where clear
cost-efficiency gains
exist, blockchain
solutions are adopted by
technical and
management experts.
Low technology advancement
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 7
01
INTRODUCTION: BLOCKCHAIN BEYOND BITCOIN
8
Blockchain has arguably
become the most hyped
technology of recent times
(see Figure 3). Over the last
decade interest in blockchain
technology has grown
enormously, catalysed recently
by the surge in cryptocurrency
prices and market capitalisation
(see Figure 4). Since these
spikes, new applications of
blockchain technology have
been developed, new industries
and government regulations
have emerged, and demand
for the blockchain engineering
workforce has grown worldwide.
Blockchain technologies and
systems have been investigated
and trialled in a wide range of
industries around the world.5,6
There are potential applications
in both existing and emerging
industries7,8—from provenance,
registries2 and energy trading9,10
to blockchain for courts11
IN BRIEF: WHAT IS
BLOCKCHAIN?
As a distributed ledger technology
(DLT), blockchain is a system of
electronic record keeping, which
is supported by a consensus-
maintaining distributed database.
Blockchains consist of sequential
records (transactions) that are
organised into groups (blocks) before
being added to the ledger. A new
block is added to the chain if it is
validated by consenting parties in the
network. The Bitcoin cryptocurrency
was the first widely adopted
implementation of a blockchain.
Since then many other blockchain
platforms have emerged offering an
ever increasing variety of features
and applications.
FIGURE 3. INTEREST IN BLOCKCHAIN COMPARED TO OTHER NEW
TECHNOLOGIES BY GOOGLE USERS
Source: Google Trends
0
20
40
60
80
100 3D PRINTING
VIRTUAL REALITY
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
RELATIVE SEARCH INTEREST (100 = PEAK POPULARITY)
BLOCKCHAIN
20182017201620152014
FIGURE 4. MARKET CAPITALISATION OF SELECTED CRYPTOCURRENCIES
Source: Coindesk22 and RBA Exchange rates23
0
50
100
150
200
250
300 STELLAR
LITECOIN
RIPPLE
ETHEREUM
BITCOIN
201820172016
$ (BILLIONS)
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 9
and spacecraft systems.12
Smart programmable money
facilitated by distributed ledger
technology (DLT) could open
up new horizons for global
trade13,14 and become the next
step in the evolution of monetary
systems.15 Blockchain became
a priority topic on the agenda of
international forums (e.g. World
Economic Forum16) and national
industry organisations (e.g.
Australian Digital Commerce
Association17). The analysis of
Australian blockchain activities
(see Chapter 3) demonstrates
that Australia is home to a
number of innovative blockchain
developments and has potential
to grow its competitive
advantage and develop a thriving
domestic blockchain industry.
However, blockchain technology
is still relatively immature
and applications are niche.5
Blockchain has facilitated new
cyber security attacks, scams,
privacy concerns, market
disruption and major regulatory
challenges.2,5,18,19 Challenges
such as data portability, privacy
and private key security, user
savviness and safety,20 and
accuracy of data on blockchains
are yet to be resolved. A growing
body of literature indicates
that investments in blockchain
might not necessarily represent
the growing capabilities of the
technology, but rather reflect the
excessive hype surrounding it.
This hype has also polarised the
discussion about blockchain’s
potential, with positions divided
into ‘blockchain sceptics’
and ‘blockchain evangelists’.
Sceptics tend to think that
blockchain cannot succeed
or will have minimal benefits
(if not costs) to individuals,
organisations and society in the
future.21 Blockchain evangelists
believe blockchain will
radically transform the global
economy for the better.16 Each
position has its strengths and
drawbacks; while blockchain
has great potential to deliver
economic and social benefits,
there are significant unknowns
around its future development
and risks to its application.
The Gartner Technology
Hype Cycle is often used to
represent the stages of maturity
and adoption of emerging
technologies and applications.24
Blockchain is currently
progressing through its ‘peak
of inflated expectations’, and
over the next decade could
transition onto its ‘plateau of
productivity’ (see Figure 5). As
the hype around blockchain
wanes, a suite of new, high-
Innovation
trigger
Peak of inflated
expectations
Trough of
disillusionment
Slope of
enlightenment
Plateau of
productivity
Estimated position
of blockchain
technology in 2018
Blockchain
Blockbuster
Ozzy
Blocky
Blockchain
Superstition
Block-what?
FIGURE 5. PLAUSIBLE FUTURE SCENARIOS FOR BLOCKCHAIN, MODELLED
AGAINST THE GARTNER TECHNOLOGY HYPE CYCLE
10
WHAT’S NEW?
In early 2017, Data61 published two major strategic foresight reports on distributed ledger technology.1,2
However, the past two years have seen substantial changes in the environment for blockchain
development and adoption both globally and nationally. This report seeks to further explore plausible
futures for blockchain in the context of this changed environment. The report’s novel features include:
A focus on blockchain labour and industry.
An emphasis on recent events and data.
A series of current trends likely to shape the future uptake of blockchain technology.
A novel set of eight scenarios, derived from structured strategic foresight methodology3,4 and
exploring a 10-year time frame.
Shaping scenarios around three axes of uncertainty determined through a horizon scan and
stakeholder consultations.
value applications could begin to
emerge, but there are significant
uncertainties around this future
development and its impact on
the Australian economy.
Building on previous blockchain
research conducted by
Data61 and the Australian
Government,1,2 this report
explores plausible futures
for blockchain technology
uptake in Australia over the
coming decade. It combines
qualitative strategic foresight
methods (see Appendix A)
with quantitative analysis to
explore future industry and
workforce trends and better
understand how blockchain
could impact the Australian
economy. This report aims to
assist government and industry
stakeholders in navigating the
uncertainty around blockchain
and making informed strategic
responses that maximise the
technology’s potential.
The report begins with a brief
explanation of what blockchain
is (Chapter 2) and a current
profile of blockchain activities
in Australian industries and
the labour force (Chapter 3).
Chapter 4 presents a horizon
scan of the technological,
environmental, economic, social
and geopolitical trends likely to
shape the future of blockchain
adoption. Drawing on these
trends, Chapter 5 identifies a
set of scenarios for the future of
blockchain uptake. The report
concludes with implications that
these plausible futures raise
for future policy and strategic
decision-making (Chapter 6).
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 11
Overview of
blockchain
Blockchains fall under the broader umbrella of distributed ledger
technologies (DLTs). DLTs are shared databases or ledgers, where
read/write access is distributed across numerous computers
(referred to as ‘nodes’ in the network). The resulting database is
stored in multiple locations, meaning that a DLT allows many nodes
to append and view the database simultaneously. By contrast, in
a centralised database, write access is granted to one person or
organisation and the database is stored centrally.1
02
12
Consensus mechanism: A means of
reaching a consistent state in a distributed
system, in which a majority of agents
in the system ultimately agree about a
state, provided they follow the rules of
the consensus mechanism. The rules
are transparent and reaching consensus
includes validating the proposed state.
In a proof-of-work consensus mechanism,
the valid state is selected as the one with
the most ‘work’ attached, where ‘work’
is an unforgeably costly process such
as computing the result of an arduous
mathematical puzzle.
In a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism,
agents ‘stake’ capital to partake in state
updates and are incentivised to act in the
best interests of the network. The valid
state is selected as the one with the most
votes for its validity, where votes are
granted in proportion to the ‘staked’ capital
each agent controls.
Blockchains are a particular type
of DLT. At their core is a shared
database that is organised as a
list of blocks, with the constraint
that an additional block of data
is appended to the ledger only if
a majority of nodes ‘agree’ that
it is valid. Agreement between
multiple nodes about the
validity of a block is derived via a
‘consensus mechanism’, of which
there are several types. The new
block is cryptographically chained
to the previous block that was
added to the blockchain, which
was chained to the block before
it, and so on, all the way to the
first block (the genesis block).
Hence the name ‘blockchain’.25,26
The usefulness of blockchains
comes from their decentralising
and trust-producing potential.
The consensus mechanism
enforces validity to create trust
and a copy of the database is
distributed and synchronised
amongst numerous nodes. A
falsified ledger would be detected
and rejected by other nodes
as being invalid. By contrast,
centralised databases are
updated and stored by a single
node, making the data subject
to tampering, falsification or
systems failure. Only the central
node can confirm the validity of
data or if it is corrupted or lost,
and corrupted/lost data cannot be
retrieved without a backup.
The first widely adopted
blockchain was implemented in
Bitcoin, which was first defined
in a 2008 white paper authored
by the pseudonymous Satoshi
Nakamoto.27 This paper built
upon a peer-to-peer system
for consensually maintaining a
distributed ledger, and provided a
solution to the ‘double-spending
problem’ for digital currencies
(i.e. if digital currencies are
made up of ones and zeros, how
do you prevent someone from
duplicating and re-using these
numbers after each spend?).
Without the need for a trusted
intermediary (e.g. a bank), a
network of participants enforcing
consensus rules can verify
transactions and the integrity
of the ledger. The network was
‘public’, meaning that anyone
could participate.
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 13
In a permissioned (private) blockchain, a predefined set of privileged members, defined by the blockchain
creator, play a special role in the consensus mechanism and may have other special rights to write and/or
read to and from the blockchain.
In a private blockchain, any participation — including participating in consensus, writing to the chain, or
even reading from the chain — is controlled by a central party issuing permissions to do so.
In a permissionless (public) blockchain any full node can read and write from the chain, and participate in
the consensus process.
However, some blockchains where not everyone can participate in the consensus process are still
referred to as public (e.g. Ripple and Stellar). These could be thought of as ‘public but permissioned’.
Later implementations of
blockchains include Ethereum
and Hyperledger Fabric and
other recent platforms.26
Many of these blockchain
platforms allow adopters to
deploy computer programs
on them, called ‘smart
contracts’. Smart contracts
are computer programs that
represent an agreement which
is automatically executable and
enforceable.26 With this added
capability, second-generation
blockchains have become
versatile enough to support
complex real-world applications.
These include tracking goods
along supply chains or securing
multi-party transactions, where,
for example, settlement and
title transfer happen in one
transaction.
Today, the term ‘blockchain’ is
broadly used to refer to many
technologies that build on the
approach originally proposed by
Nakamoto. These technologies
commonly allow multiple
untrusted parties to keep shared
records that are consistent
and immutable, and to append
updates to records without the
need for a central authority. They
do so using well-specified rules
which have strong (often crypto-
economically secured) guarantees
of enforcement. Different
types of blockchains represent
different trade-offs between
trust, scalability, functionality and
efficiency. For example, many opt
for a private ledger over public
network participation with a
greater level of trust required for
nodes to participate.25
The unique ability of blockchains
to establish a single, canonical
source of truth without any
central authority opens up a range
of potential uses. While currency
is the most established and best-
known example, blockchains
can be used to maintain any kind
of record of ownership (e.g. of
physical assets) in a decentralised
manner. Blockchains could also
be used to record, transact and
transfer virtual assets. In a purely
digital realm, actions in one
sphere (e.g. an online game) can
be directly contingent on actions
occurring on the blockchain.
Many assets (e.g. shares
in a company) are virtual
representations of information,
sustained by human belief and
legal frameworks that belief
has written into existence.
Blockchains provide a way for
multiple parties, who are willing
to agree on certain beliefs, to
come together and coordinate
records without needing
individual trust. Blockchain also
enables new forms of distributed
software architecture, where
networks of untrusted (and
sometimes even corrupted)
participants can securely
establish agreements on shared
states for decentralised and
transactional data without a
central authority.
14
Why now? The evolution of social and economic trust
Blockchain is fuelling a qualitative evolution from the first generation of the internet (i.e. internet of
information) to the second (i.e. internet of value).28 The internet of information enabled parties previously
unknown to each other to search, collaborate on and exchange information. The lower transaction costs
that came with the first generation reduced barriers to entry for many businesses. But these advantages
were accompanied by problems of trust between unknown parties across the globe; there was no way of
guaranteeing the identity of participants or the quality of information they provided.
Many countries are experiencing growing distrust in institutions. Indeed, in 2018, an analysis of trust in
institutions found 20 of the 28 countries (including Australia) surveyed were classified as distrusters.29 But
what is driving this loss of trust in institutions? Trust in institutions started dropping during the 2008 global
financial crisis and has continued to decline as a result of rapid globalisation and technological change, the
effects of which have not been equally shared across society.30,31 Recent scandals involving intermediaries,
including the Australian banks32 and Facebook33, have also fuelled public distrust and privacy concerns.
These problems of trust are likely to have hindered the true potential of e-commerce and other internet-
related activities. The second generation of the internet should provide better guarantees about participant
identity and information quality, enabling the effective exchange of value between otherwise distrusting
participants. DLTs, which have the ability to automate the three functions of a trusted third- party
intermediary (validating, safeguarding and preserving transactions)1, seem like a natural step in the new
stage of trust evolution.
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 15
Regulating blockchains
While blockchains have been
trialled across a wide range of
industries, various barriers to
their implementation have been
encountered. These include
regulation, legal enforceability,
systems compatibility and
usability.34 It is challenging to
develop and implement clear
regulatory and taxation regimes
for blockchain, as blockchain is
a dynamic industry with adopters
spanning across organisations,
industries and jurisdictions.
Countries are trialling different
regulatory approaches to crypto-
assets and blockchain in a
search for a balanced solution
between innovation support
and consumer and business
protection, as indicated at a
discussion on crypto-assets at
the at the G20 Leaders’ Summit
in Buenos Aires in November-
December 2018.35 For more
examples of discussions on
crypto-assets and blockchain
regulation, see Appendix B.36-42
16
03
CURRENT PROFILE OF AUSTRALIAN
BLOCKCHAIN INDUSTRY AND SKILLS
To understand the future of the blockchain industry in Australia, we
need to understand its contemporary state. At present, there are limited
data on blockchain activities in Australia, and indeed globally, making
it difficult to identify current trends. This report presents novel data
compiled from an analysis of current blockchain activities in Australia,
including organisational actions aimed at implementing or developing
blockchain innovation to yield a blockchain-related product (see Appendix
C for further details). It reflects a cross-section of 138 Australian
blockchain activities with information available in the public domain as of
August 2018.
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 17
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
20172016201520142013
NUMBER OF BLOCKCHAIN-RELATED ACTIVITIES
201220112010
FIGURE 6. NUMBER OF BLOCKCHAIN ACTIVITIES IN AUSTRALIA BY
STARTING YEAR
Source: Data61 Australian blockchain activities dataset
FIGURE 8. DISTRIBUTION OF
BLOCKCHAIN-RELATED JOB
ADVERTISEMENTS BY STATE AND
TERRITORY
Source: Burning Glass Technologies46
FIGURE 7. NUMBER OF BLOCKCHAIN ACTIVITIES IN AUSTRALIA BY STATE
AND TERRITORY
Source: Data61 Australian blockchain activities dataset
ACT
42%
33.3%
8%
6.5%
5.8%
2.9%
0.7%
TAS
SA
OVERSEAS/
UNIDENTIFIED
WA
QLD
VIC
NSW
0.7%
QLD
9.6%
NSW
44.1%
VIC
40.9%
ACT
1.5%
SA
1.0%
WA
2.9%
TAS
NT
QLD
NSW
52.6%
VIC
47.4%
ACT
SA
WA
NT
TAS
2015/16
2017/18
QLD
9.6%
NSW
44.1%
VIC
40.9%
ACT
1.5%
SA
1.0%
WA
2.9%
TAS
NT
QLD
NSW
52.6%
VIC
47.4%
ACT
SA
WA
NT
TAS
2015/16
2017/18
Blockchain activity in Australia
There has been an increase in
Australian blockchain activities
since 2010 (see Figure 6). Over
50% of activities are undertaken
by blockchain firms and
start-ups (e.g. PowerLedger,
CivicLedger, AgriDigital and
Shping) or larger companies
with active blockchain projects
or trials (e.g. Australia Post,
Australian Securities Exchange,
and Commonwealth Bank of
Australia). Some activities
also account for a consortia
of organisations working on
collaborative projects (e.g. the
partnership of IBM, Westpac and
ANZ,43 and Australian National
Blockchain initiative44). The
majority of Australian blockchain
activities focused on a single
application product (50.7%), with
other activities associated with
greater productisation (18.1%)
or providing blockchain-related
services (31.2%).
New South Wales (NSW)
had the greatest share of
blockchain-related activities,
followed by Victoria and
Queensland (see Figure 7).
Although the majority of
activities were recorded within
capital cities, there were
some examples of regional
blockchain activities. For
instance, over 30 businesses
in the Central Queensland
towns of Agnes Water
and Seventeen Seventy
(1770) are now accepting
cryptocurrency as a form of
payment, designed to appeal
to international tourists in the
niche market of crypto-funded
travel.45 Similarly, blockchain-
related jobs are concentrated
in NSW and Victoria, but this
distribution has widened in
recent years (see Figure 8).
18
Industry profile of blockchain activity
The leading industry for blockchain activities in Australia is financial and insurance services, followed
by professional, scientific and technical services, and retail trade (see Figure 9). The dominance of
the financial and insurance services in blockchain adoption can be partly explained by the nature
of financial services, and blockchain’s application in digital currency and Bitcoin. Over half of all
blockchain activities in financial and insurance services (51%) and professional, scientific and technical
services (52%) are facilitative.
FIGURE 9. SHARE OF AUSTRALIAN BLOCKCHAIN ACTIVITIES BY INDUSTRY
Source: Data61 Australian blockchain activities dataset
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
SHARE OF BLOCKCHAIN ACTIVITIES (%)
FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE SERVICES
PROFESSIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL SERVICES
RETAIL TRADE
RENTAL, HIRING AND REAL ESTATE SERVICES
HEALTHCARE AND SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
INFORMATION MEDIA AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
ARTS AND RECREATION SERVICES
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND SAFETY
ELECTRICITY, GAS, WATER AND WASTE SERVICES
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHING
ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD SERVICES
CONSTRUCTION
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
TRANSPORT, POSTAL AND WAREHOUSING
MINING
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 19
There were no examples of
blockchain activities identified
in other industries such as
manufacturing, wholesale
trade, and administrative
and support services. There
could be novel opportunities
for blockchain application
products and innovations to
seize a first-mover advantage
in these industries. Around 93%
of blockchain activities have
been undertaken by small-to-
medium-sized organisations
with 1 to 200 employees (see
Figure 10). Indeed, a growing
share of start-ups in Australia
identify with the blockchain
industry—up from 3.4% in 2016
to 8.1% in 2018.47,48
Analysis of blockchain activities
also demonstrates that Australia
is home to a number of world-
first blockchain applications
in: bonds operations,49,50 smart
programmable money,13 a
national blockchain system44
and international standards,51 as
well as industry-specific trials
in energy,9 agriculture52,53 and
the public sector.54 For a more
detailed summary of some high-
profile use case of blockchain,
see Appendix D.
FIGURE 10. SHARE OF AUSTRALIAN BLOCKCHAIN ACTIVITIES BY COMPANY SIZE
Source: Data61 Australian blockchain activities dataset
200+ EMPLOYEES
43.3%
43.3%
6.3%
7.1%
51-200 EMPLOYEES
11-50 EMPLOYEES
1-10 EMPLOYEES
20
The workforce of blockchain professionals
FIGURE 11. NUMBER OF BLOCKCHAIN-RELATED ONLINE JOB
ADVERTISEMENTS IN AUSTRALIA
Source: Burning Glass Technologies46
FIGURE 12. DEMAND FOR BLOCKCHAIN SPECIALISTS BY INDUSTRY
Source: Burning Glass Technologies46
DEMAND FOR
BLOCKCHAIN-RELATED
SKILLS
Since the emergence of
blockchain technology, the
demand for blockchain-related
skills has been growing
globally.55 Using online job
advertisement data from
Burning Glass Technologies
(see Appendix C for details
on methodology), Data61
analyses revealed that the
number of blockchain-related
job advertisements has grown
rapidly in Australia over the past
three years (see Figure 11). This
indicates an increased demand
for workers in blockchain
in the Australian workforce.
Analyses of US data from online
job advertisements shows a
similar, rapid increase from 500
job advertisements in 2014 to
3,958 in 2017.56 The majority of
Australian job openings in 2017–
18 were in computer systems
design and higher education
sectors (see Figure 12).
0
100
200
300
400
500
201820172016
NUMBER OF BLOCKCHAIN-RELATED
JOB ADVERTISEMENTS
2015
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
ALL OTHER INDUSTRIES
COMPUTER SYSTEMS DESIGN AND
RELATED SERVICES
HIGHER EDUCATION
ACCOUNTING SERVICES
SOFTWARE PUBLISHING
BANKING
NUMBER OF BLOCKCHAIN-RELATED JOB ADVERTISEMENTS
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 21
The top five technical skills
required for blockchain-related
jobs are based on knowledge of
mathematics and programming:
JavaScript, artificial intelligence,
machine learning, the Internet
of Things and software
engineering. However,
analysis shows that blockchain
specialists are also required to
demonstrate complementary
enterprise skills, including
research, communication,
problem solving, creativity and
writing skills (see Figure 13).
The majority (97%) of
blockchain jobs require at
least a bachelor’s degree. The
higher education qualification
requirement translates to a
wage premium for blockchain
professionals too. Almost 60%
of blockchain-related jobs
pay more than AUD$100,000
per year, compared to around
45% of professional jobs (see
Figure 14). However, there is
no evidence that blockchain
developers have a wage
premium compared to those in
jobs with a comparable skillset,
for instance, data scientists or
software engineers.
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
C++
PYTHON
SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
BIG DATA
SOFTWARE ENGINEERING
INTERNET OF THINGS
MACHINE LEARNING
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
JAVA
JAVASCRIPT
0 5 10 15 20 25
TROUBLESHOOTING
BUILDING EFFECTIVE RELATIONSHIPS
PRESENTATION SKILLS
PLANNING
ENGLISH
WRITING
CREATIVITY
PROBLEM SOLVING
COMMUNICATION SKILLS
RESEARCH
FIGURE 13. THE TOP 10 SPECIALISED TECHNICAL SKILLS (TOP) AND COMPLEMENTARY ENTERPRISE SKILLS
(BOTTOM) REQUIRED FOR BLOCKCHAIN-RELATED JOBS
Source: Burning Glass Technologies46
FIGURE 14. SALARY DISTRIBUTION OF JOBS IN BLOCKCHAIN AND OTHER
PROFESSIONAL JOBS
Source: Burning Glass Technologies46
Note: Professional jobs are defined as jobs requiring at least a bachelor’s degree
$50,000 - $74,999$75,000 - $99,999$100,000 - $149,999$150,000 +
PROFESSIONAL JOBS
BLOCKCHAIN JOBS
22
SUPPLY OF BLOCKCHAIN-
RELATED SKILLS
The supply of blockchain-
related skills has also increased
along with demand. According
to LinkedIn, since October
2013 there has been a 28-fold
increase in the number of
people citing cryptocurrency
skills on their profiles (and a
5.5-fold increase in citing Bitcoin
skills).57 But this supply is not
keeping pace with demand;
one analysis suggests that
there are 14 job openings for
every blockchain developer.58
FIGURE 15. SHARE OF TERTIARY GRADUATES WITH INFORMATION AND
COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY (ICT) QUALIFICATION BY SELECTED
COUNTRIES IN 2015
Source: UNESCO Institute of Statistics60
FIGURE 16. PROGRAMME FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ASSESSMENT
(PISA) PERFORMANCE OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN MATHEMATICS BY
SELECTED COUNTRIES
Source: OECD data for PISA61
A lack of skilled workers with
blockchain-related skills could
impact future development and
uptake of blockchain technology
in Australia.
Australia currently has around
470,000 people in occupations
using skills such as software
development, computer
networking, and information
and communications technology
(ICT) management.59 With
additional support and
training, these workers could
arguably transfer their skills
into blockchain-related roles.
Relative to other countries
though, Australia accounts
for a small proportion of ICT
graduates, with Singapore,
Finland and New Zealand having
larger shares (see Figure 15).
Data from the Organisation
for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD)
Programme for International
Student Assessment also
suggests that Australian high
school students perform at a
lower level than their peers in
mathematics (see Figure 16).
Some Australian universities
(e.g. RMIT and the University
of Technology Sydney) have
recently begun offering
blockchain-related courses and
modules, and the University of
New South Wales also plans to
follow suit and offer two new
blockchain courses in 2019.62,63
Despite this though, most of the
training options for blockchain
are provided online by providers
such as Coursera, Edx and
Udemy,64-66 or single universities
(e.g. University of Nicosia67).
0246810
CANADA
FRANCE
U.K
U.S.A
AUSTRALIA
NEW ZEALAND
SHARE OF ICT GRADUATES (%)
FINLAND
SINGAPORE
400
500
600
JAPAN FINLAND U.S.A CANADA AUSTRALIA
PISA MATHEMATICS SCORE
20152012200920062003
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 23
04
FUTURE TRENDS SHAPING
BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA
24
This chapter explores the emerging trends
shaping how blockchain is adopted and applied,
and its impact on the Australian economy
over the coming decade. These trends were
informed by consultations with key industry
and government representatives, along with a
broad horizon scan of technological, economic,
environmental, social and geopolitical literature.
They draw on local, national and global examples
of patterns of change that will likely impact
blockchain adoption in the Australian economy
and economies around the world. This evidence
base was used in developing plausible future
scenarios for blockchain adoption in Australia out
to 2030 (see Chapter 5).
Technological and environmental
trends
Computing power,
memory and data storage
capabilities continue to
grow. In line with Moore’s
law, the density of transistors
in computer chips has doubled
every two years up to 2012 (see
Figure 17). This has decreased
the cost of computer power and
enabled greater processing
speed and memory capacity.68,69
There are predictions that this
trend could taper off in the next
decade, as further shrinking
of transistors becomes less
technically feasible and
economically desirable.70,71
However, new technological
developments suggest that
there are other ways to continue
increasing computing power and
driving down costs associated
with data processing and
storage72-74, including emerging
off-chain storage solutions.75
Growth in data storage and
computing power could fuel
future blockchain opportunities.
0
300
600
900
1,200
1,500
0
50,000
100,000
COST OF COMPUTER MEMORY ($/MBYTE)
MILLION OF TRANSISTORS PER INTEL CHIP
150,000
200,000
250,000
300,000
350,000
400,000
COST OF COMPUTER MEMORY
INTEL CHIP - NUMBER OF TRANSISTORS
20122008200319981993198519781972
FIGURE 17. NUMBER OF TRANSISTORS PER INTEL CHIP AND COST OF COMPUTER MEMORY
Source: Intel Chips Timeline (2012),68 Memory Prices (1957-2018)69
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 25
Growing internet connectivity opens new avenues for blockchain, but may be limited
by digital infrastructure. Between 1993 and 2016, the global share of individuals using the internet
grew from 0.3% to 45.9%, almost half of the world’s population.76 Increased internet connectivity allows for
greater application of digital technologies, including blockchain. Availability, reliability and affordability of
internet connectivity are essential for storing, mining and validating operations in a blockchain. Australia’s
broadband network falls behind global standards; however, in 2017 its average connectivity speed placed
it 50th worldwide and ranked it in the middle of its Asia–Pacific neighbours (see Figure 18).
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
AVERAGE CONNECTION SPEED (MBPS)
PHILIPPINES
INDIA
INDONESIA
CHINA
SRI LANKA
MALAYSIA
VIETNAM
AUSTRALIA
NEW ZEALAND
THAILAND
TAIWAN
JAPAN
SINGAPORE
HONG KONG
SOUTH KOREA
FIGURE 19. NUMBER OF TRANSACTIONS PER SECOND ACROSS
DIFFERENT BLOCKCHAIN SYSTEMS
Source: Blocksplain,71,84 Stellar,85 Zilliga,86 Red Belly Blockchain80 and Coincodex87
FIGURE 18. AVERAGE INTERNET CONNECTION SPEED ACROSS ASIA-
PACIFIC COUNTRIES IN 2017
Source: Akamai77
Blockchain technology
is advancing. New
developments signal that
scalability for blockchain
technology may be on the
horizon; for instance, SegWit,
an update to the Bitcoin Core
software, increased transaction
throughput by around 40%.78
Throughput of new blockchain
systems is also rapidly
increasing; the Australian Red
Belly Blockchain79,80 can now
handle 660,000 transactions
per second on 300 machines,81
compared to 2,000 transactions
per second globally on the VISA
network.82 Scaling solutions
such as Lightning Network83, a
second layer operating system
on top of the blockchain, also
raise the possibility of orders-
of-magnitude scaling for public
blockchains while largely
retaining decentralisation.
Forfeiting some decentralisation
has also allowed for greater
scaling. For instance,
blockchains leveraging different
consensus algorithms have
been shown to handle much
greater transaction loads (see
Figure 19). Further advances
in blockchain software and
hardware will likely drive
adoption and innovations.
0
1,000
2,000
3,000
4,000
5,000 VISA
THROUGHPUT (TRANSACTIONS PER SECOND)
RED BELLY
BLOCKCHAIN
(2017)
EOS
(2017)
ZILLIQA
(2016)
STELLAR
(2014)
RIPPLE
(2012)
ETHEREUM
(2013)
BITCOIN
(2008)
7 20
1,500
1,000
2,000
4,000
660,000
26
Energy costs associated
with Bitcoin mining are
skyrocketing. Despite
improvements in the energy
efficiency of Bitcoin mining
hardware,88 it still consumes
significant amounts of energy
(see Figure 20),88 and all Bitcoin
mining energy consumption
in Iceland is comparable to
the total consumption of all
households.89 Researchers
demonstrate that between 2016
and 2018, on average, mining
one dollar worth of crypto-
assets (Bitcoin, Ethereum,
Litecoin and Monero) took
more energy than it did to
conventionally mine one dollar
worth of copper or gold.90
The ‘low-hanging fruits’ of
mining energy cost reductions
have already been picked, for
example, by concentrating
mining in regions with low
electricity prices and in close
proximity to energy-generating
facilities including hydropower
stations.91 Further efficiencies
might be gained by using the
excess heat generated from
mining computers (e.g. Bitcoin
space heaters92). However,
global environmental concerns
around energy consumption
could limit future blockchain
adoption worldwide.93
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
BITCOIN’S ESTIMATED ENERGY CONSUMPTION
(TWH PER YEAR)
AUG-18FEB-18AUG-17FEB-17
FIGURE 20. BITCOIN’S ESTIMATED ENERGY CONSUMPTION
Source: Digiconomist94
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 27
0
500
1,000
1,500
2,000
2,500
3,000
AVERAGE TIME TAKEN TO CONFIRM BITCOIN
TRANSACTION (MINUTES)
JUN-2018APR-2018FEB-2018DEC-2017OCT-2017AUG-2017
FIGURE 21. AVERAGE CONFIRMATION TIME FOR BITCOIN
Source: Blockchain95
Transaction costs on
major blockchains can
vary substantially. The
time taken to confirm Bitcoin
transactions in the first six
months of 2018 was highly
volatile, varying from 12
minutes to almost 43 hours
per transaction, but this has
since improved (see Figure
21). The spikes in demand can
cause network congestion and
slower processing times. For
instance, in December 2017, the
popularity of CryptoKitties—an
online crypto-game that trades
virtual collectable kittens—
halted the processing of 30,000
transactions in the Ethereum
network.96 As the slowing
hype pushes down the price of
cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin,
it is estimated that miners only
break-even on operating costs
when the price of Bitcoin is
around AUD$9,700.97 Below this
price, it is unprofitable to mine.
New protocols and crypto-
economic incentives (e.g. fees,
mining rewards, alternative
consensus reaching systems
such as proof-of-stake98) may
improve the scalability of
blockchains using proof-of-
work algorithms in the future.
However, further technological
advancement will be required
for blockchain technology to
feasibly provide high-speed and
low-cost transactions at scale.
28
Cyber security is
a growing concern
(and opportunity) for
blockchain businesses.
The number of cyber attacks
in Australia continued to
rise in 2018 (see Figure
22). Blockchains are not
immune to this risk. In fact,
the hype around blockchain
technology, as well as its rapid
growth, development and
innovation, arguably makes
many blockchain applications
an easier target for cyber
attacks. There has been a
suite of reported attacks in
recent years, including data
exfiltration of the wallets and
users’ keys. For instance, in
January 2018, Coincheck lost
roughly AUD$584 million in
NEM coins, making it one of the
largest losses of cryptocurrency
through a security breach.18,100
As blockchain technology
matures, so too does the cyber
security risk,18 with some
cybercrime methods applying
specifically to blockchain.
For example, a malicious
Google Chrome plug-in mined
cryptocurrency coins without
device users realising it.18 Some
estimates suggest that crypto-
hacking has grown into an
FIGURE 22. NUMBER OF DATA BREACHES REPORTED UNDER THE
NOTIFIABLE DATA BREACHES SCHEME IN AUSTRALIA
Source: Office of the Australian Information Commissioner99
0
20
40
60
80
100
NUMBER OF DATA BREACHES
JUN-18MAY-18APR-18MAR-18FEB-18JAN-18
industry worth AUD$266 million
in annual revenue in 2018.101
At the same time, the rise of
cybercriminal activity creates
new market opportunities for
cyber security firms and service
providers to offer secure
blockchain activity solutions.101
The emergence of a
dominant blockchain
design could accelerate
future developments.
When a product design acquires
over 50% of the market for a
significant period of time, it
is considered the ‘dominant
design’.102 The presence of
a dominant design helps to
standardise the market, as
Microsoft and Apple have done
for personal computing. At
present, there are no dominant
blockchain designs. Future
dominant blockchain solutions
will need to overcome the
challenges of scalability, speed,
flexibility and interoperability.
Once a dominant design
emerges and is widely
accepted, it could serve as
an industry standard and
reduce adoption costs through
cumulative learning.
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 29
Economic trends
The peer-to-peer
economy is growing.
The peer-to-peer economy is
providing new opportunities to
connect buyers with sellers,
and employers with employees.
Popular marketplaces such as
Freelancer, Upwork, Kaggle,
Etsy and Madeit allow people
to both outsource tasks and
connect with sellers for a wide
range of products and services.
The peer-to-peer marketplace
has also enabled new business
models to emerge; for instance,
in transport, new app-based
mobility services like Uber,
Lyft and Ola have come online.
The proportion of people aged
14 years and older using Uber
in Australia alone has grown
from 5.1% in 2016 to 18.4% in
2017.103,104 The decentralised
nature of peer-to-peer
economies could facilitate
uptake of future blockchain
solutions, and also indicates
the preparedness of businesses
and consumers to adopt
decentralised solutions.
Global blockchain funding
is growing. All-time
cumulative venture capital
funding in blockchain has grown
at an accelerated pace, up from
AUD$1.9 million in 2012 to
AUD$7.6 billion as of November
2018.105 Similarly, both the
number and cumulative sum
of ICOs has shown exponential
growth from 2014 to 2018 (see
Figure 23). Increased funding for
blockchain could be a precursor
to innovation and adoption.
However, some researchers
see the hype around ICOs as
analogous to a gold rush,106
and predict that blockchain’s
accelerating funding growth will
level out in future, with investors
seeking real returns from
venture capital recipients and
ICO issuers.
0
100
200
300
400
500
0
5,000
10,000
15,000
20,000
25,000
30,000
CUMULATIVE ICO FUNDING
CUMULATIVE ICOS (IN AUD MILLIONS)
NUMBER OF ICOS
NUMBER OF ICOS
20182017201620152014
FIGURE 23. NUMBER OF INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS (ICOS) AND CUMULATIVE ICO FUNDING
GLOBALLY (UP UNTIL NOVEMBER 2018)
Source: Coindesk ICO Tracker107
Flexible workforce arrangements are on the rise. The workforce is becoming more flexible
as emerging generations of workers increasingly demand flexible working environments.108,109 Flexible
working arrangements are also enabled by technology, with enhanced connectivity providing opportunities
for people to work as mobile, portfolio workers and earn a living based on their outputs rather than having
a fixed place of employment. The popularity of these employment models is evident from the increased
number of co-working centres,110 but also in the increasing share of part-time workers in Australia (see
Figure 24). Management of flexible working arrangements could reflect a potential use case for future
blockchain, in providing assurance around digital identity and payments for individual contractors.
30
Australia has become a net
exporter of ICT services,
but there is still much
potential for growth.
Australia ranked in 13th place
out of a selection of 16 countries
worldwide in terms of its share of
exports classified as ICT exports,
which totalled $3.2 billion in
2016–17.112 Australia’s position
lags behind other countries on
ICT services as a share of total
exports; in 2016, ICT comprised
only 1.0% of Australia’s total
exports, compared to 12.0% in
Israel and 3.2% in the United
Kingdom.112 Australia has also
become a net exporter of ICT
services, with ICT services exports
higher than imports in 2016–17
following a period of being a net
importer. However, while the
proportion of ICT-related exports
has improved in Australia, up
from 12th place in 2011112, the
pace of change has been slow.112
Blockchain, along with other
growing technology domains like
artificial intelligence, robotics and
cyber security, could provide new
ICT services export opportunities
for Australia.
Blockchains could help
reduce business costs,
particularly in banking.
According to Accenture estimates,
a blockchain-based database
system in banking could cut
central finance reporting costs
by 70%, with a 50% reduction in
business and central operational
costs and 50% of compliance
costs.113 These cost efficiencies
arise from more streamlined
data sharing, improved quality,
and greater transparency and
auditability of transactions.113
Analyses by Santander also
suggest that DLT could cut the
banks’ infrastructure costs by
$15–20 billion annually by 2022,
via savings on cross-border
payments, securities trading and
regulatory compliance.114 The cost
savings provided by blockchain
could fuel future adoption.
Entrepreneurs and start-
ups could drive the future
economy. In 2017, small-
to-medium-sized enterprises
created around seven million
jobs and contributed 57% of
Australia’s gross domestic
product.115 Economy-wide,
small-to-medium-sized
enterprises also generate the
largest share of new jobs.116
Start-ups in the blockchain
sector have been growing
their share of the industry over
time too. According to Startup
Muster, 8.1% of start-ups
in Australia associate their
business with the blockchain
industry, compared to 3.4% in
2016.48,47 While start-ups and
SMEs have the potential to drive
growth in both the blockchain
sector and the broader
economy, there is also high
risk within this space given the
high start-up failure rates117,118.
Blockchain start-ups are no
exception - one study estimates
that only 44% of blockchain
start-ups survive 120 days
beyond their ICO.119 Effective
innovation may therefore need
to be backed by larger players.
FIGURE 24. SHARE OF FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES AND PART-TIME EMPLOYEES IN AUSTRALIA
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics111
0
20
40
60
80
100 PART-TIME
FULL-TIME
SHARE OF LABOUR FORCE WORKING (%)
20182014201020062002199819941990198619821978
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 31
Geopolitical trends
Growth in Asian economies presents opportunities and competition for Australia’s
blockchain industry. Driven by a growing Asian middle class,120 the world’s economic ‘centre of
gravity’ — the average location of economic activity across geographies on Earth — is shifting eastwards,
and is expected to fall between China and India by 2050.121 These changes present opportunities for
Australia to export goods and services to economies in the Asia-Pacific, as well as challenges due to
increased competition for emerging markets. Global Market Insights estimates a 50% increase in the
number of investments in blockchain-related start-ups from 2016–17, and that the blockchain industry
will be worth AUD$21.28 billion by 2024.122 One of the most promising regional market applications for
blockchain is in remittances from migrant workers. The value of these remittances reached AUD$169
billion in 2016 and is projected to continue growing (see Figure 25), with the region containing seven out
of ten of the top-receiving countries.123 The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aim to reduce
remittance fees to less than 3% by 2030,85 but the average was 7.5% in 2017,123,124 making this a potential
area for cost-reducing blockchain solutions.
0 200 400 600 800 1,000
REST OF THE WORLDEAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
2018
$ (BILLIONS)
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2010
FIGURE 25. ESITIMATED REMITTANCE FLOWS TO EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC,
COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE WORLD
Source: World Bank123 and RBA exchange rates23
Note: 2017 and 2018 values represent future projections
China is dominating the
global cryptocurrency
market. China is the world
leader in mining hardware
development and production,
with Bitmain, a Chinese chip
maker for Bitcoin mining,
earning as much as AUD$3.9
billion in 2017—a figure on
par with longstanding US
chip giant Nvidia.125 Bitmain
derives its revenue from
hardware sales and from
extensive cryptocurrency mining
operations.126 The majority of
mining pools also reside in
China127. Moreover, China is
home to the largest share of
blockchain-related patents,
with 1,581 patent families filed
in 2018, compared to Australia,
which was ranked 6th with
84 patent families.128 China’s
strengths in cryptocurrency
could pose strong
competition for the Australian
cryptocurrency industry in
the future. Furthermore, the
centralisation of mining could
be used to manipulate the
crypto-markets and deter
blockchain adoption by harming
the perceived decentralisation
benefits of blockchain.
Supply of and demand for skilled talent is increasing
in the Asia-Pacific region. By 2020, the OECD estimates that
40% of higher education graduates will come from China and India.129
Australian employers are also increasingly demanding workers
with higher skill levels (see Figure 26). As the supply of overseas
talent increases, competition in the workforce could intensify in
the coming years. On the other hand, the Asia-Pacific region could
provide employment opportunities for Australian workers in emerging
technology domains, including the blockchain industry. For instance,
the Asia-Pacific region is rapidly becoming the financial technology
centre of the world,130 with Singapore already having one of the world’s
highest concentrations of FinTech accelerators.131 Taking advantage
of business opportunities in the region will require international
collaboration and cross-border consumer protection regulations.130
32
FIGURE 26. NUMBER OF EMPLOYED PERSONS IN AUSTRALIA BY SKILL
LEVEL
Source: Australian Government Department of Jobs and Small Business132
Note: Skill Level 1 (Bachelor’s degree or higher qualification), Skill Level 2
(Advanced Diploma or Diploma), Skill Level 3 (Certificate IV or III, including at
least 2 years on-the-job training), Skill Level 4 (Certificate II or III), Skill Level 5
(Certificate I or secondary education)
0
1,000
2,000
3,000
4,000
5,000
20232018
SKILL LEVEL 5
(CERT I/SECONDARY)
SKILL LEVEL 4
(CERT II/III)
SKILL LEVEL 3
(CERT IV/III+)
SKILL LEVEL 2
(ADV DIP/DIP)
SKILL LEVEL 1
(BACHELOR DEG)
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES (’000)
E-government
applications are growing,
with some using
blockchain technologies.
E-government practices have
become more common, with
the average E-Government
Development Index score—a
measure of readiness and
capacity of governments
to use ICT to deliver public
services—for United Nations
economies growing from 0.47
to 0.55 between 2013 and 2018.
The Australian Government
was placed second in 2018,
with a score of 0.93 (range
= 0, lowest to 1, highest).133
Estonia has led the way with
its use of blockchain for
public services, including
registries in areas such as
security and commercial code,
and legislative, judicial and
national health systems.134 With
more public services going
digital, demand for blockchain
innovations in government could
grow in the future, including in
voting practices.
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 33
Social trends
It is increasingly difficult
to distinguish fact from
fiction. ‘Post-truth’ was the
Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word
of the Year,135 and there has
been a spike in the word’s use
in the wake of major geopolitical
events such as Brexit and the
election of Donald Trump.
Post-truth is evidenced by the
increasing appeal to emotions
and personal beliefs for the
swaying of public opinion, rather
than objective facts and logical
argument.136 Social media
platforms such as Facebook
could strengthen post-truth
conditions, possibly fostering
echo chambers of partisan
opinions and the use of targeted
political advertisements based
on individual political views.137
Blockchain consensus protocols
can aid in gaining a consensus
view of truth, and could function
to safeguard the truth whilst
providing adopters with their
own record of the ‘truth’.
Income has become more
unequal in Australia
and in most other OECD
countries. Between 2005
and 2016, the Australian Gini
coefficient—a measure of the
distribution of income and
wealth across the population—
grew from 0.31 to 0.32 (range =
0, perfect equality to 1, perfect
inequality).138 There has been
disproportionate income growth
between poor and wealthy
households in Australia, with
the lowest quintile seeing less
than 5% growth between 2004
and 2014, compared to the
highest quintile (40% growth).139
Given rising inequality has
been associated with declining
social trust,140 there may be
opportunities in the future to
use blockchains to address
distrust in intermediaries or
social inequalities.141
The digital divide is
widening in Australia.
Australia-wide scores on the
Australian Digital Inclusion
Index—a measure of digital
inequalities based on digital
access, affordability and
ability—have been improving
(see Figure 27). These
increases have been driven
by improvements in all three
digital domains, but the greatest
improvements have been seen
in digital access (i.e. access to
the internet).142 However, key
digital divides across Australian
society have been widening
over this period, for instance,
the gap between younger and
older Australians, and the gap
between metropolitan and
regional/rural areas across
Australia.142 Levels of digital
inclusion could impact the
extent to which some segments
of the Australian community
can adopt and participate in
blockchain innovations.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
20182017201620152014
DIGITAL ABILITYAFFORDABILITYACCESSDIGITAL INCLUSION INDEX
SCORE (OUT OF 100)
FIGURE 27. DIGITAL INCLUSION SCORES AND SUB-INDEX SCORES FOR ACCCESS,
AVAILABILITY AND DIGITAL SKILLS IN AUSTRALIA
Source: Thomas et al.142
34
FIGURE 28. CONSUMER RESPONSES WHEN POSED WITH THE QUESTION: ‘HOW IMPORTANT IS COUNTRY
OF ORIGIN LABELLING FOR CONSUMERS?’
Source: Colmar Brunton143
Consumer demand for provenance is high. Tracking the ownership and handling of physical
assets in supply chains has been identified as a use case for blockchain technologies, providing assurance
around the provenance of those goods.2 There are a number of noteworthy Australian examples of
provenance-based blockchain business, including AgriDigital, Everledger and BeefLedger. Of 1,220
Australian consumers surveyed in 2015, the majority reported that country of origin labelling is important
or very important to them (see Figure 28), and 54% would be willing to pay an extra 5% in their weekly food
budget for country of origin labelling.143 These findings indicate the importance of provenance in consumer
purchases, which could fuel further blockchain innovations for supply chains in Australia and abroad. But
provenance use case for blockchain could also depend on the usability of blockchain solutions and the
quality of data on the blockchain.
0 10 20 30 40 50
VERY UNIMPORTANT
UNIMPORTANT
NEUTRAL
IMPORTANT
VERY IMPORTANT
SHARE OF RESPONDENTS (%)
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 35
Privacy concerns could drive future blockchain applications. A 2014 survey found that 61% of
Australian internet users were concerned about the potential for new technologies to invade their privacy.144
Moreover, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner found that 48% of respondents saw online
services and social media as the greatest risk to their privacy and one-third had experienced a problem in
the way their personal information was handled in the preceding year.145 Growing privacy concerns could
incentivise blockchain adoption, particularly given the potentially privacy-preserving features of public
blockchains.146,147 Permissioned blockchains can also maintain privacy by closing database access to
authorised users only when the pseudonymity of unpermissioned blockchains could be insufficient.
There is a growing gap between supply and demand of science, technology,
engineering and mathematics skills in Australia. ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse estimates
that Australia will need 100,000 more technology workers by 2023.112 This demand is driven by the
growing adoption of digital technologies across the economy, and as shown in Chapter 3, this growing
demand for skilled workers is also evident in the Australian blockchain industry. Access to talent will be
a key component in growing Australia’s blockchain industry, and indeed, its other technology-enabled
industries. The majority of enrolments in non-school qualifications, however, are in non-STEM (science,
technology, engineering and mathematics) related fields (see Figure 29), posing a potential risk for
Australia’s future supply of blockchain-related skills.
AGRICULTURE, ENVIRONMENTAL
& RELATED STUDIES
FOOD, HOSPITALITY &
PERSONAL SERVICES
INFORMATION
TECHNOLOGY
CREATIVE ARTS
ARCHITECTURE &
BUILDING
NATURAL & PHYSICAL
SCIENCES
EDUCATION
ENGINEERING & RELATED
TECHNOLOGIES
HEALTH
MANAGEMENT &
COMMERCE
SOCIETY & CULTURE
FIGURE 29. CURRENT ENROLMENTS FOR NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION IN AUSTRALIA IN MAY 2018 BY
FIELD OF STUDY
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics148
Gender gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields
are not closing. Females are still under-represented in a wide selection of STEM-related fields; they
make up only 16% of university and vocational education and training (VET) STEM graduates, 17% of
STEM professors and 40% of junior STEM academics.149 Moreover, female graduates are more likely to
be in biology and agricultural degrees (51–59%) over information technology and engineering degrees
(13-14%).149 Despite these gender imbalances, organisations such as ‘Women in Blockchain Global’ are
helping to support women in the blockchain industry. Failing to address these gender gaps could hinder
access to talent and progress in the Australian blockchain industry in the future.
36
Future
scenarios for
blockchain
adoption
The trends identified in this report highlight a range of factors that
could impact the future of blockchain adoption. But these factors do
not point towards a single future. Some trends will reflect opposing
forces, generating areas of critical impact and uncertainty for the
future of blockchain adoption. In scenario planning, these domains
of critical impact and uncertainty can be treated as continuums (or
axes), which combine to yield future scenarios. These scenarios aim
to provide a simplified model of a much more complex reality that
can help to inform future decision-making.
05
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 37
To account for the complexity and diversity of plausible blockchain futures, this report identified three
axes of critical impact and uncertainty for the future of blockchain adoption. The intersection of these
axes gave rise to four scenario groups, each containing two scenarios (see Figure 30). These scenarios
capture the subtleties of labour and industry impacts and help illuminate how in combination the three
areas of uncertainty could shape the future of blockchain in Australia. Informed by consultations with key
government, academic and industry stakeholders, the axes were identified as:
High technology
advancement
High cost
efficiency
Trust shifts to
decentralised
systems
Trust stays in
existing
institutions
Low cost
efficiency
Low technology
advancement
FIGURE 30. SCENARIO AXES FOR THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN ADOPTION IN AUSTRALIA
TECHNOLOGY
ADVANCEMENT
Will it be feasible to scale
blockchain technologies
and resolve the conflicts of
confidentiality vs transparency,
and decentralisation vs scalable
consistency? Or will blockchain
applications remain limited by
these constraints?
SOCIAL TRUST
Will social trust shift
from existing institutions
to decentralised peer-
to-peer systems, some
of which may draw upon
blockchain algorithms? Or
will governments, industries
and communities continue to
place their trust in established
intermediaries?
COST EFFICIENCY
Will it be cheaper to implement
and operate blockchain systems
over legacy software systems?
Or will the costs associated
with operating and integrating
blockchain solutions with other
systems be too high to deem
blockchain a viable option?
38
Technology
advancement axis
As the use of blockchain
increases, some of the conflicts
within blockchain technology
(e.g. between confidentiality
and transparency, and
scalable consistency and
decentralisation) become more
pressing. Blockchain systems
also become increasingly high-
profile and attractive targets for
cybercrime. This axis captures
the uncertainty regarding
whether blockchain technology
is able to advance significantly,
or whether it is fundamentally
limited by technical constraints.
LOW ENDPOINT:
LOW TECHNOLOGY
ADVANCEMENT
A future where blockchain
technology regresses from
its current state was not
considered plausible. As
such, even at the low endpoint
of this axis, there has been
some advancement from
today. Blockchain storage
capabilities have improved due
to the uptake of off-chain data
storage solutions,75 as have
transaction processing times
and energy efficiency due to
new consensus algorithms.
However, these improvements
are still insufficient to manage
the volume of transactions
on the blockchain at global
scale, and transaction costs
remain high. Computational
capacity limits could act as a
major barrier to blockchain
technological advancement,
as computing power growth
according to Moore’s law is
likely to slow down in the next
decade.70,71,150 There are already
signs of an approaching limit
to computational capacity
of major systems, including
volatile Bitcoin transaction
times,95 and the cases of
Ethereum network congestion.96
Regulatory failures could also
be a factor driving this future if
regulatory reform does not take
place fast enough to allow for
technological innovation.
HIGH ENDPOINT:
HIGH TECHNOLOGY
ADVANCEMENT
Current trends in computing
power show consistent growth,
which is leading to reduced
costs, faster processing
speeds and greater memory
capacity.68,69 Despite the
potential slowing of Moore’s law,
new innovations demonstrate
great potential for continually
improving computing power.72-74
In this future, blockchains
are capable of providing
scalable, trusted, decentralised
solutions with high levels of
confidentiality, transparency
and consistency. Technological
constraints (storage, processing
time, verification and mining)
have largely been overcome
or mitigated, some via
technological developments
already observable in 2018;
for instance, blockchains with
transaction speeds exceeding
those of the VISA network,81,82 or
second-layer operating systems
that improve scalability.83 These
and other technologies have
continued to advance, making
technically scalable blockchains
possible by 2030.
Social trust axis
This axis explores the evolution
of social trust in blockchain
systems. In recent years,
declining levels of trust in
institutions30,31 have coincided
with the increasing popularity
of online, internet-mediated
services (e.g. news, social
networks, financial systems
and public services). This has
also accompanied the rise of
decentralised peer-to-peer
platforms and indicates a
changing landscape of social
trust.151 However, it is still highly
uncertain whether Australian
businesses and communities
will trust the complex and often
opaque mechanisms behind
decentralised ledgers and
platforms more than established
institutions, such as banks,
governments, media and real
estate agencies. This axis
captures this uncertainty.
Axes of critical impact
and uncertainty
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 39
LOW ENDPOINT: TRUST
STAYS IN EXISTING
INSTITUTIONS
This endpoint illustrates a
future with minimal change
compared to 2018. By 2030,
people use some peer-to-
peer platforms for basic
transactions, but in general
still prefer to deal with the
same trusted intermediaries
as they did in 2018 for all major
matters (e.g. big banks, well-
known e-commerce companies
and mainstream social media
platforms).
This future is plausible given
the increasing number of
reported scams associated
with cryptocurrencies,152 as
well as the general association
of blockchain with illegality
stemming from the use of
Bitcoin to conduct illegal
activities.153 Public distrust
is also likely to be fuelled by
the low levels of ‘blockchain
literacy’; a 2017 study found that
59% of respondents had not
heard of blockchain and 80% did
not understand it.154
HIGH ENDPOINT:
TRUST SHIFTS TO
DECENTRALISED
SYSTEMS
At this endpoint, the trust that
was once placed in established
intermediaries has now shifted
to decentralised models based
on distributed computing. This
future may be brought about by a
number of factors, including the
growing popularity of platform
businesses as alternatives
to centralised models.155 The
sharing economy is estimated
to grow from AUD$15.5 billion
in 2014 to AUD$446 billion by
2025.156 Distrust of centralised
intermediaries could also
catalyse this future; between
2017 and 2018, Australians
showed a marked decline
in trust of non-government
organisations, businesses
and government, down 4%,
3% and 2% respectively.157
Recent scandals involving
major intermediaries, including
many Australian banks32 and
Facebook33, have also brought
issues of trust and privacy to
the fore. Such incidents could
continue to drive consumers to
seek out decentralised solutions,
thereby boosting blockchain
innovation and adoption.
Cost efficiency axis
This axis considers the cost
efficiency of blockchain
technology relative to legacy
software systems in 2030, in
terms of the transition and
operation costs. Transition
costs, including staff training,
are those associated with
developing blockchain solutions
and integrating them with legacy
systems. In economics terms,
these are short-term fixed costs.
Operation costs are variable
and include those required to
run the machines, monitor,
process and add transactions.
Such costs could include the
cost of equipment, electricity
and overheads, as well as
environmental costs.
LOW ENDPOINT: LOW
COST EFFICIENCY
This endpoint describes a
future where blockchains do
not reduce costs as much as
anticipated relative to legacy
systems. Transitioning to
blockchain from legacy systems
has been costly, largely because
labour shortages for skilled
blockchain developers have
driven up wage costs. Such
skill shortages are already
evident in 2018, with 14 job
openings for every blockchain
developer.58 Operational costs
have also remained high, with
the mining fees required to
cover costly mining hardware26
and significant energy
consumption89 contributing to
limited cost efficiency.
HIGH ENDPOINT: HIGH
COST EFFICIENCY
At this endpoint, blockchain
applications offer significant
cost efficiency for government,
businesses and the general
public. Current trends indicate
the plausibility of this future
state, with research suggesting
that blockchain could radically
reduce reporting, operational,
compliance and infrastructure
costs in the banking113,114 and
public sectors. In line with
current improvements in the
energy efficiency of mining
hardware88, new consensus
algorithms and energy-
preserving innovations92, this
future would see continued
reductions in operational costs.
40
Plausible blockchain adoption
scenarios
Scenarios are plausible and evidence-based narratives about the
future, which extend the consequences of current trends forward
in time. Because there are critical uncertainties about the future of
blockchain adoption in Australia, multiple scenarios are possible. The
following eight scenarios were developed to explore plausible futures
for blockchain adoption in Australia out to 2030. These scenarios
propose future trajectories for blockchain adoption based on its
current predicted position in the Gartner Technology Hype Cycle (see
Figure 31). Rather than predicting or forecasting the future, each
scenario presents a snapshot of a different future, driven by various
combinations of trends along the three axes. These scenarios are
designed to challenge the thinking of industry, government and
community stakeholders, and provoke discussion of plausible ‘sunny’
and ‘rainy’ days ahead for blockchain adoption in Australia.2
Expectations / benefits
Innovation
trigger
Peak of inflated
expectations
Trough of
disillusionment
Estimated position
of blockchain
technology in 2018
Blockchain
Blockbuster
Ozzy
Blocky
Blockchain
Superstition
Block-what?
Slope of
enlightenment
Plateau of
productivity
FIGURE 31. PLAUSIBLE FUTURE SCENARIOS FOR BLOCKCHAIN ADOPTION IN AUSTRALIA OUT TO 2030, ALIGNED
WITH THE GARTNER TECHNOLOGY HYPE CYCLE
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 41
SCENARIO GROUP I: BLOCK-WHAT?
High technology
advancement
High cost
efficiency
Trust shifts to
decentralised
systems
Trust stays in
existing
institutions
Low cost
efficiency
Low technology
advancement
INDUSTRY IMPACT
Very little blockchain adoption across
industries.
Disintermediation and disruption
have been minimal. Intermediary
organisations marginally improved their
service and product offerings.
Despite blockchain’s unpopularity, a
few large-sized firms in the financial
and insurance services industry adopt
private blockchain tech to improve in-
house operations.
EXPORT
No significant international trade of
blockchain software and hardware is
happening.
This scenario describes a future with low levels of technological advancement, where social trust is
largely still placed in longstanding institutions. The benefit of hindsight has shown that the blockchain
industry was overly hyped in 2018, and little more than a market bubble. Since then, the technology hasn’t
offered tangible, competitive market products, and several high-profile innovations turned out to be
market failures. These events contributed to ongoing negative media coverage of blockchain applications,
further limiting trust and adoption. ‘Blockchain’ is considered just another buzzword, and there is little
chance that the technology could reach the ‘plateau of productivity’ in Australia.
What do these scenarios mean for
labour, industries and export?
BLOCKCHAIN LABOUR AND SKILLS IMPACT
The number of blockchain developers with core
technology skills
LOW HIGH
The number of blockchain adopters with a mixture of
technology skills, soft skills and industry knowledge
LOW HIGH
The number of blockchain users from broader
community with blockchain literacy skills
LOW HIGH
42
The use of blockchain for
unsustainable and illegal
economic activity, and the
paucity of public-good
applications of blockchain
technology, has raised public
suspicion about the broader
value of decentralised
solutions. Regulation has not
kept pace with changes in the
blockchain ecosystem, nor
with the complexity of a global
legislative environment. As
a result, there has been an
increase in blockchain-related
scams, privacy breaches and
accountability deficits which has
deterred public and business
adoption. The tension between
transparency and privacy has
not been eliminated by the
pseudonymity of public keys in
a blockchain, as most people no
longer consider anonymity alone
as sufficient privacy protection.
Large corporations have
emerged as dominant players
in the Australian blockchain
industry at the expense of
smaller businesses. Too much
winner-takes-all competition
has led to a lack of collaboration
across the industry, stifling
innovation. Nevertheless, a
small number of companies
have effectively adopted
blockchain, mostly for intra-
firm operations where clear
efficiency gains are feasible.
The financial and insurance
services industry, for instance,
is able to make some use of
blockchains for international
banking operations and
money transfers. Blockchain
has helped to decrease cost
of remittances and worked
towards the United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals,
although taxation issues are not
yet completely resolved. Other
industries also benefit from
the heightened transparency
of distributed ledgers; for
example, some agriculture
firms use blockchain to
demonstrate the provenance of
high-value products.
Despite these few examples,
the blockchain solutions of 2030
still face unresolved technical
hurdles when applied at scale.
Australian digital infrastructure
remains insufficient to run
effective blockchain systems at
an inter-organisational scale.
Moreover, blockchain solutions
are subject to numerous cyber
security breaches, coding bugs
and malicious actors intent on
exploiting technical and legal
loopholes or manipulating
the market. The supply of
blockchain-related skills
has been insufficient to meet
the increasing demand for
blockchain developers, and
many organisations have given
up on blockchain entirely.
Since 2018, there has been
a decline in the blockchain
industry, exacerbated by capital
flight due to unmet hyped
expectations. Companies
emerging from the peak
of the hype (most notably,
financial advisory services for
cryptocurrencies) had almost no
market left, and were forced to
either fold or diversify into other
markets. Although blockchain
failed to meet expectations,
its brief hype did have a
positive effect on the offerings
of traditional institutions.
The threat of blockchain
disruption forced intermediaries
(e.g. banks and insurance
companies) to improve their
product and service offerings,
and offer better cost efficiency,
transparency and accountability
in their operations.
LOW COST EFFICIENCY HIGH COST EFFICIENCY
Blockchain remains in the Gartner Hype Cycle’s
‘trough of disillusionment’ due to its association
with illegal activities, scams and privacy issues,
as well as its inability to offer significant benefits
compared with legacy systems.
There is a high cost of transitioning from legacy to
blockchain systems, driven in part by the shortage
of blockchain-related skills.
Blockchain still has low scalability compared with
centralised databases, and the transaction costs
therefore make it unappealing.
Blockchain has reached the Gartner Hype Cycle’s
‘trough of disillusionment’, but the cost efficiency
promises of blockchain give some hope that the
technology will continue moving towards the
plateau of productivity. If this does occur, it is likely
to take at least another decade.
There are many potential cost savings to be gained
from the switch to blockchain-based systems, but
adoption is still hindered by the numerous high-
profile scams and illegal activities carried out on
the blockchain. Some private blockchains are in
operation, but are not widely known.
SCENARIOS
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 43
SCENARIO GROUP II: OZZY BLOCKY
High technology
advancement
High cost
efficiency
Trust shifts to
decentralised
systems
Trust stays in
existing
institutions
Low cost
efficiency
Low technology
advancement
INDUSTRY IMPACT
Both small start-ups and large firms
developing blockchain hardware,
software and education have led
Australia’s blockchain export growth.
Blockchain activities grew in the
manufacturing, information media and
telecommunications, and education
and training industries. The financial
and insurance services industry uses
blockchains to smooth internal operations.
EXPORT
Australia has become a net exporter of
blockchain technology.
Advanced manufacturing in IT has entered
the blockchain exports sector, improving
customised hardware and software.
Further development is seen in food
provenance and cryptocurrency tourism.
In this scenario, blockchain technology has advanced significantly to become highly scalable and
cybersecure. High levels of investment in blockchain technology, as well as concentrated efforts to
upskill the workforce in blockchain, have given Australia a competitive advantage in the global blockchain
industry. But domestic adoption lags, however, as social trust is still centred on existing institutions.
People and businesses remain unwilling to fully trust distributed systems.
What do these scenarios mean for
labour, industries and export?
BLOCKCHAIN LABOUR AND SKILLS IMPACT
The number of blockchain developers with core
technology skills
LOW HIGH
The number of blockchain adopters with a mixture of
technology skills, soft skills and industry knowledge
LOW HIGH
The number of blockchain users from broader
community with blockchain literacy skills
LOW HIGH
44
Among the general population,
there is widespread
misunderstanding around
what blockchain is and how it
works at a technical level. To
help fill this knowledge gap,
intermediary firms emerge
offering advisory services to
help organisations transition
from legacy to blockchain-
based systems. This confuses
the market, with many people
left asking “isn’t blockchain
supposed to eliminate
intermediaries?”
Large corporations have been
the prime movers in blockchain
innovation, and have helped to
drive high levels of technological
advancement. However, the
relative absence of SMEs in
the blockchain industry has
contributed to scepticism
regarding the decentralising
potential of blockchain.
Given SMEs generally contribute
disproportionately to job
creation,116 the dominance
of large corporations in the
Australian blockchain industry
has stifled job creation
opportunities for the industry,
leading to only moderate
employment growth. Demand
for blockchain solutions
globally has fuelled demand for
Australian blockchain services
exports. With limited domestic
demand though, Australia
has become a net exporter of
blockchain technology, and
this is highly beneficial to the
nation’s economy.
LOW COST EFFICIENCY HIGH COST EFFICIENCY
High transition costs discourage early adopters of
the technology and hinder the wider adoption of
blockchain across Australian industries.
A limited number of firms have adopted private
blockchains for intra-firm use. Centralised
intermediaries have been disrupted in some
instances, but still operate for the large non-
blockchain-adopting market.
Other countries find Australian blockchain solutions
to be cost efficient and reliable, which opens up new
technology export opportunities for Australia.
Increasing exports of the technology, coupled with
low domestic adoption, brings the risk of a brain
drain of talent from Australia’s blockchain industry.
The Australian blockchain industry has reached
the expected productivity plateau, although
domestic adoption rates are hindered by distrust in
blockchain technology.
Cost-efficiency gains drive the adoption of
technology across industries and firms; however,
the level of adoption is still lower in Australia than
in other economies.
This scenario is likely to eventually lead to a future
with high trust and high technology advancement
(e.g. ‘Blockchain Blockbuster’). But this
progression will likely take longer than a decade
to establish trust in blockchain technology and
educate users.
SCENARIOS
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 45
SCENARIO GROUP III: BLOCKCHAIN SUPERSTITION
High technology
advancement
High cost
efficiency
Trust shifts to
decentralised
systems
Trust stays in
existing
institutions
Low cost
efficiency
Low technology
advancement
INDUSTRY IMPACT
Industries whose blockchain activity
grew made use of blockchain-enabled
customer services that do not require
scalability.
Some degree of disintermediation and
disruption occurred, but it has not been
substantial as scalability remains an
unaddressed barrier to adoption.
Blockchain-enabled services are
prominent in the public and private
service sectors: public administration
and safety, accommodation and food
services, retail trade etc.
EXPORT
Australia is a net importer of blockchain
technology.
The high trust characterising this
scenario means that Australians could
learn from importing blockchain tech,
creating a possibility for developing the
blockchain export sector.
This scenario explores a future where Australians are willing to import and adopt intra-firm blockchain
solutions, despite a lack of advances in the underlying blockchain technologies. The high degree of
distrust in conventional institutions, already observable in 2018, has continued to grow and fuelled
blockchain adoption in 2030. This is despite technical problems around scalability, privacy, cyber security,
transaction speed and digital infrastructure, which still hinder blockchain performance.
What do these scenarios mean for
labour, industries and export?
BLOCKCHAIN LABOUR AND SKILLS IMPACT
The number of blockchain developers with core
technology skills
LOW HIGH
The number of blockchain adopters with a mixture of
technology skills, soft skills and industry knowledge
LOW HIGH
The number of blockchain users from broader
community with blockchain literacy skills
LOW HIGH
46
There has been limited
technological advancement in
the areas of distributed micro-
computing, storage, cyber
security, and privacy-preserving
capabilities. Blockchain-related
skills have become more
common within the Australian
workforce, but the supply of
talent is insufficient to support a
growing and evolving blockchain
industry. Some scaling success
stories in the international
blockchain industry, such as the
widespread use of blockchain
for remittance payments
that was already emerging in
2018158, have demonstrated the
technology’s potential. While the
Australian blockchain industry
gradually works to overcome
technical issues, some
domestic firms choose to import
blockchain skills and technology
from abroad.
Blockchain is still a highly
hyped technology. Distrust
in established institutions,
as well as the search for
the next wave of productivity
growth, have become the
major drivers of blockchain
adoption across Australian
industries. Intra- and inter-firm
ledgers are used to streamline
operational processes, increase
collaboration, and improve
transparency and consumer
trust. However, due to low-
performing domestic technology,
truly scaled public blockchains
are not yet feasible for the
Australia blockchain industry.
High domestic adoption of
blockchain has led to some
disintermediation at the
firm level. The financial and
insurance services sector has
been significantly disrupted,
as has the logistics industry.
High-value agriculture has
become a niche industry,
with firms increasingly using
blockchain to establish food
provenance. This disruption has
had notable economic benefits
and helped fuel productivity
in these traditional industries.
But the lack of scaled public
blockchains and the continuing
need to import technology and
skills from other countries has
limited the economic and social
value that could be provided by
this industry.
LOW COST EFFICIENCY HIGH COST EFFICIENCY
Blockchain technology does not offer significant
cost savings compared to traditional systems. Even
though people have been willing to trust distributed
ledgers, centralised databases are still better
equipped for cases involving large volumes of data,
and privacy-sensitive data.
The blockchain industry has introduced a range
of new products and services. Since blockchain
applications are not as cost efficient as people had
hoped, disruption to existing industries is limited
to ‘low-hanging fruits’, with many industries
continuing with business as usual.
Where a high-performing decentralised technology
solution is highly necessary, the technology is
usually imported from abroad.
High trust in decentralised systems drives
businesses and consumers to search for cost-
efficient alternatives to blockchain. Other emerging
DLT solutions offer better technology and cost
performance.
The Australian blockchain industry has reached
the Gartner Hype Cycle’s ‘productivity plateau’.
However, the cost efficiencies are realised mainly
by private and smaller applications, which is
less than would have been achieved if public
blockchains were in use.
Private networks are small compared to public
blockchains such as Bitcoin. They are still superior
to traditional centralised databases in terms of
their ability to improve productivity and streamline
internal business processes.
SCENARIOS
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 47
SCENARIO GROUP IV: BLOCKCHAIN BLOCKBUSTER
High technology
advancement
High cost
efficiency
Trust shifts to
decentralised
systems
Trust stays in
existing
institutions
Low cost
efficiency
Low technology
advancement
INDUSTRY IMPACT
The financial and insurance services and
professional, scientific and technical
services industries paved the way for
a home-grown blockchain revolution.
Industries with highly privacy-sensitive
data (e.g. health) were last to follow.
All industries have jumped aboard
the blockchain bandwagon, as digital
disruption and disintermediation led to a
‘disrupt or be disrupted’ sentiment.
Private and public blockchains are
employed for smoothing firm operations,
fostering collaborative consortia and
coordinating public-good provision.
EXPORT
Australia has become a net exporter of
blockchain technology.
Opportunities for export range from
providing blockchain hardware,
software and education; to blockchain-
enabled energy trading, genetics and
visa-free travel.
This scenario combines high levels of advancement in blockchain technology with a significant societal
shift in trust towards decentralised systems. These conditions have led to a future where blockchain
solutions have been widely adopted by almost every industry, both in Australia and abroad. In 2030,
‘Blockchain it!’ has become the motto for addressing most business problems, just as ‘Google it!’ was an
answer to many questions in 2018. Blockchain has become so fully integrated into society that it no longer
appears in the news headlines; instead, it is simply a part of everyday life.
What do these scenarios mean for
labour, industries and export?
BLOCKCHAIN LABOUR AND SKILLS IMPACT
The number of blockchain developers with core
technology skills
LOW HIGH
The number of blockchain adopters with a mixture of
technology skills, soft skills and industry knowledge
LOW HIGH
The number of blockchain users from broader
community with blockchain literacy skills
LOW HIGH
48
Australia has leveraged its
competitive strengths in
blockchain, including its
government support for
blockchain innovations and
strong industry and research
leadership, to become a world
leader in blockchain innovation,
adoption, talent and technology
exports. The pool of blockchain
skills in Australia has grown,
enabling the implementation
of scaled solutions at minimal
cost. Many overseas blockchain
professionals are attracted to
Australia’s high wage premiums
and thriving blockchain industry.
This, combined with advances
in technology, has advanced
adoption beyond private contexts
and into public blockchains.
Private or public, blockchain
solutions have become the near-
norm for many applications,
including identity management,
financial payments, and intra-
and inter-firm coordination.
At the international level,
DLTs have been rolled out for
registries, voting, visas and
immigration, and taxation and
health records. Success of
blockchain applications in the
energy sector for distributed
generation and off-grid energy
exchange inspired other utilities
to explore and adopt blockchain
applications. The technological
performance of blockchain
has fulfilled expectations and
demonstrated scalability, cyber
security and performance
sufficient for both domestic
and international operations.
Well-developed public education
campaigns on blockchain have
also helped to grow trust in
decentralised systems. Simple
and user-friendly solutions
for identity management have
emerged, and the general
population has finally learnt to
use crypto-credentials safely
and securely.
Distributed ledger solutions
have overseen the large-
scale replacement of third-
party intermediaries with
computational consensus
mechanisms. Former
disrupters, like Airbnb, Uber and
Airtasker, are themselves being
disrupted by the more efficient
and trusted solutions made
possible through blockchain
technology. For some industries,
this has significantly impacted
employment, with some workers
finding it difficult to transition
with these changes.
This scenario also features the
emergence of dominant design,
along with suitable standards
for further blockchain adoption
and interoperation. This has
allowed SMEs, individuals and
communities to participate in
blockchain innovation. As well
as fostering inter-organisational
collaboration, blockchain has
also increased competition
between firms adopting
blockchain to harness efficiency
gains. Supply chains have been
simplified, decentralised and
improved. Facilitative blockchain
intermediaries (e.g. exchanges,
advisors and consultants)
are no longer in high demand
due to the availability of user-
friendly, off-the-shelf blockchain
solutions. The blockchain
industry is still evolving from
offering specific ICT products to
offering customised blockchain
solutions and services for
transparency, efficiency and
cost management within
organisations and industries.
LOW COST EFFICIENCY HIGH COST EFFICIENCY
The Gartner Hype Cycle ‘productivity plateau’ has
been reached, but substantial blockchain transition
costs still constrain some industries and firms
from adopting these solutions.
Blockchain solutions are not affordable for
community and not-for-profit organisations. A
‘blockchain divide’ emerges between organisations
that can afford to adopt blockchain and enjoy its
benefits and those that cannot.
In the meantime, the search for cost-efficient
decentralised ledger solutions continues. An
alternative decentralising technology is already on
the horizon, and will likely replace blockchain in
the decade following 2030.
Both private and public blockchains are in full
operation. A wide range of blockchain solutions
exist, from private firm blockchains to national and
even transnational blockchains.
Transition costs are minimal, as widespread
understanding of the technology has allowed rapid
technological diffusion and innovation.
There are major efficiency and productivity
gains across industries. Blockchain has allowed
economies to move beyond the productivity plateau
inherited from the beginning of the 21st century.
A shift from national currencies to cryptocurrencies
is happening with more applications of smart
money, however the full transition is still only on
the horizon for Australia.
SCENARIOS
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 49
06
STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS AND ACTIONS
The trends and scenarios presented in this report raise a number of
important implications for the future of blockchain adoption in Australia
and the development of its industry and workforce. These implications
will impact and shape future policy and strategic decisions, and influence
the extent to which the industry can mitigate future risks and harness
emerging opportunities. Informed by consultations with key government
and industry representatives, this chapter presents key actions for the
Australian blockchain industry, focusing on how Australia can leverage
its competitive advantage and facilitate broad industry adoption and
application of blockchain technologies.
50
Australia’s competitive advantage
Blockchain technology is global
by nature and it is therefore
crucial for Australia to consider
its regional positioning and
comparative advantages. The
Asia-Pacific region is the source
of several major opportunities
for Australian export of
blockchain-related goods and
services. For instance, the
growing population of higher
income, health-conscious
consumers in the region
presents an opportunity for
high-value agriculture firms to
use blockchain in establishing
food provenance.159,160 The
high prevalence of remittance
payments123 and mobile
wallets130,161 in the region also
indicates a market opportunity
for financial technology products
using blockchains.
However, the rapid growth in
technology investment and
skills development within
the Asia-Pacific means that
Australia also faces significant
global competition, including
from regional leaders like
Singapore, a global FinTech
leader.162 Building on Australia’s
existing strengths to develop
new capabilities will be crucial
to realise the potential of
blockchain for Australian
business, governments and
communities. Australia’s
blockchain industry has a
competitive advantage in a
number of areas in having:
Access to a fairly
decentralised, fully
dematerialised set of capital
markets, making it easier
to implement blockchain
solutions relative to places
like the US or EU.163
Government funding for
research into blockchain
uses in the public sector.164
A strong financial services
industry that weathered the
global financial crisis better
than almost anywhere else
in the world.163
Research leadership in
blockchain technology
innovation, combined
with an active start-up
community. Australia is
home to a number of leading
blockchain initiatives,
including the Australian
National Blockchain,
Melbourne’s Blockchain
Centre, PowerLedger,
the Commonwealth Bank
blockchain bonds, Civic
Ledger, Everledger and
AgriDigital.
Global leadership in
blockchain governance.
Australia is chairing the
International Standards
Organisation group
developing standards for
blockchains and other
distributed ledgers.165
Relatively strong institutional
adoption and collaboration,
either between companies
or public–private sector
partnerships. For instance,
Australian banks are working
with distributed ledger start-
up Ripple,166 the Australian
Government has partnered
with IBM to develop
blockchain solutions,54 the
Queensland Government is
working with TravelbyBit to
open the market for digital
currency tourism,167 Australia
Post is partnering with
Alibaba and Blackmores to
use blockchain to trace food
exports168 and Australian
Securities Exchange is
adopting DLT in collaboration
with Digital Asset.169
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 51
DEVELOPING THE
APPROPRIATE SKILLS MIX
Widespread development
and adoption of blockchain in
Australia will require the right
blend of technical knowledge
and ‘soft’ (enterprise) skills.
Organisational leaders
and early adopters of
blockchain will need to have
strategies around investing
in the technology, as well as
upskilling and transitioning
their workforce to develop and
apply blockchain technologies.
Community leaders and end
users would benefit from basic
‘blockchain literacy’, or even
a broader understanding of
what the technology is and how
it works. As the analysis of
the current workforce profile
of the Australian blockchain
industry in this report has
shown, complementary ‘soft’
skills will be just as critical
as more specialised technical
skills, and will likely help in
encouraging more widespread
adoption and understanding
of potential use cases for
blockchain and its key risks.
GROWING THE ICT
TALENT POOL
Australia is lagging behind on
a number of ICT indicators,
including ICT graduates60
and high-school STEM
performance.61 There will be
growing demand for ICT talent,
both in Australia and abroad,
as consumer uptake of digital
technologies continues to
grow and as other technology-
enabled industries like artificial
intelligence, robotics, cyber
security and the Internet of
Things develop. Growing the
ICT talent pool in Australia
may involve a combination of
strategies focused on education
and training (e.g. developing
new course offerings that assist
existing workers transition
to the emerging blockchain
industry) and migration policies
(e.g. incentives designed to
attract global talent).
ADDRESSING THE
BLOCKCHAIN
KNOWLEDGE GAP
Research and stakeholder
consultations undertaken for
this project demonstrated a
substantial gap in knowledge
and understanding of
blockchain, both within and
outside of the ICT sector.
There are both opportunities
and challenges in this
space. For instance, a lack
of understanding around
blockchain technologies
could hinder future uptake, as
demonstrated in the ‘Block-
what?’ and ‘Ozzy Blocky’
scenarios. On the other hand,
this knowledge gap can open
up opportunities for new
service industries focused
on advising and assisting
organisations in blockchain
adoption, and introduce
new markets for accredited
Australian educational
providers. Indeed, this report
shows that around one-third
of existing businesses in the
Australian blockchain industry
were classified as offering
blockchain-related services.
RESOLVING DIGITAL
INFRASTRUCTURE
BOTTLENECKS
The availability of reliable and
affordable digital infrastructure
is a key factor determining
the adoption and further
development of blockchain
and other digital technologies.
Internet connectivity in Australia
is well below average, being
ranked 50th in the world for
average connectivity speed.77
Connectivity is typically
worse in socio-economically
disadvantaged areas,170 and
indices of digital inclusion are
higher in Australian capital cities
than in regional or rural areas.142
Affordable and reliable access
to the internet, either through
a fixed broadband connection
or via mobile, is a necessary
prerequisite for participation in
a blockchain network. Issues
around digital infrastructure
could limit future blockchain
adoption in Australia and the
development of the industry.
Furthermore, sufficient
digital infrastructure is
crucial for developing other
digital technologies (e.g.
Internet of Things, artificial
intelligence, robotics,
autonomous vehicles, big data)
that are complementary to
blockchain technology.171-173
Technological convergence has
a high potential impact on the
national and global economy,174
and should be facilitated
via future infrastructure
development and investment.
52
MEETING THE
REGULATORY CHALLENGE
Governments will need to play
an active role in the transition,
particularly in the areas of:
Regulation, taxation and
consumer protection.
Reskilling the labour force.
Determining the benchmark
for blockchain applications.
Supporting innovation.
The rapid growth and global
nature of the blockchain
industry implies a major
challenge for regulators and
the appropriate regulatory
response will likely vary under
each plausible future scenario.
Remittances, food provenance
and international registries
are just a few examples of
blockchain applications that
cross national boundaries and
regulations. Allowing blockchain
applications to operate in a
global environment without
introducing risks to domestic
consumers and businesses
creates a challenge. Taxation
and consumer protection
regulations, along with
technology standards176 that
can be adopted at the national
and international level, may be
needed. Australia could also
appoint a national regulator
to strategically oversee the
emerging blockchain industry.
ASSISTING BUSINESSES
WITH THE TRANSITION
Blockchain solutions can
allow firms to reduce costs
and improve productivity.113
However, blockchain innovations
can disrupt existing players in
the market and increase price
competition. In scenarios with
higher blockchain adoption
(e.g. ‘Blockchain Superstition’
and ‘Blockchain Blockbuster’),
we could see more frequent
disruption of traditional
industries in the future.
To mitigate these risks
and assist organisations in
transitioning to blockchain, there
are four high-level questions to
consider before implementing a
blockchain solution:
Knowledge – What does the
technology has to offer?
What problems need to be
addressed?
The transition period
Blockchain has the potential to transform the way we live, work, travel and communicate. Blockchain
technology can provide important benefits, but may also present significant challenges and risks to
overcome. Risks associated with blockchain include issues around cyber security and privacy, as well
as the potential for decline in the industry and job losses. The transition to a future with high levels of
blockchain adoption will require a revision of regulation, business processes, educational programs, and
technology systems, as well as a mindset shift toward greater individual accountability in the absence of
central authorities.19,175
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 53
Alignment – How do the
strategies and plans align
with new technological
solutions and market
offerings?
Preparedness – Are human
capital and technological
resources ready for
the shift to blockchain?
What risks, barriers to
implementation, and
unforeseen consequences
might there be?
Regulation and governance
– What regulatory and
compliance frameworks
exist and how will
your business operate
and compete in this
environment?
Overcoming the divide between
blockchain sceptics and
blockchain evangelists – and
moving beyond the hype – might
require that innovators and
adopters shift their focus from
‘What is blockchain?’ to ‘Why
do we need the blockchain?’.
This shift is already underway,
but could be further progressed
by the blockchain leaders both
in public and private sectors.
This will further facilitate the
transition from the ICO ‘gold
rush’ into targeted investment,
open dialogue, benchmarking of
the best use cases, and broader
understanding of the potential
benefits and costs of using
blockchains with a problem-
focused, open-minded and
anticipatory approach.
UNDERTAKING ROLLING
STRATEGIES
As an industry and field of
research and development,
blockchain has experienced
significant ups and downs,
driven in part by the dynamic
nature of cryptocurrency. This
means that a five- or ten-year
strategy is unlikely to serve the
industry well. Although strategic
thinking is key to long-term
success, short-term agility is
equally crucial, especially for
an emerging industry. As such,
rolling annual strategies that
align with a long-term plan but
incorporate recent data and
developments may be more
appropriate to support the
emergence and direction of the
Australian blockchain industry.
DEVELOPING A PLAN
FOR MANAGING CYBER
SECURITY
As blockchain technology
gains popularity, there is an
increased need to protect such
systems against malicious
actors who may be motivated
to compromise its operations.18
The number of cyber attacks
in Australia has consistently
grown each year, and 2018
was no exception.99 As with
most technology, tailored risk
assessment will be necessary
at all stages of blockchain
implementation and use,
from the initial concept to the
final product. Governments,
businesses and other
organisations should consider
drafting and adopting cyber
security and risk mitigation
strategies as a key aspect of
transitioning to blockchain-
facilitated operations.
USING RESEARCH AND
DATA TO DRIVE DECISION-
MAKING
There are many unknowns
around the future of blockchain
adoption in Australia, but
continued research and use
of data in decision making
will help provide intelligence
and informed direction.
More research is required to
understand the domestic uptake
of blockchain technology and
anticipate future developments.
The implications of blockchain
for the labour market is
particularly important, and
should be further explored as
relevant data become available
over the coming decade. For
example, one avenue of future
research could be to examine
the supply and demand of
blockchain specialists around
the world, revealing the potential
trajectory for skills demand in
Australia over the next three to
five years.
54
07
CONCLUSION
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 55
Last year marked the tenth
anniversary since the concept
of blockchain technology was
publicly released in a white
paper by Satoshi Nakamoto.
Over the course of a decade,
blockchain has grown
significantly in popularity
and use, attracted major
investment, and introduced new
products and services – from
mining computers and software
to advisory firms helping
investors navigate the complex
world of cryptocurrencies. The
disruption caused by blockchain
is irreversible.
However, a decade is a short
period for technological
change. The first working
prototype for the internet
was developed in the 1960s,
but it took decades for the
technology to take off with the
invention of the World Wide
Web in the 1990s.177 Even
with the accelerating pace
of technological progress,
blockchain technology is still
progressing through the very
early stages of development.
Looking a decade forward, key
uncertainties remain around
whether blockchain technology
can move beyond the hype to
deliver tangible, widespread
value, or whether it will
amount to little more than a
market bubble.
Using strategic foresight
methods, this project aimed
to explore emerging trends,
uncertainties and scenarios
impacting the adoption of
blockchain technology in
Australia over the coming
decade. Given that the future is
unknown and difficult to predict,
this report investigated the
impact of a range of plausible
futures, and the opportunities,
challenges and risks that these
futures could present for the
blockchain industry in Australia.
The report incorporated a
particular focus on the labour,
industry and export impacts of
these future scenarios.
To understand the future of the
Australian blockchain industry, it
is necessary to first understand
its present state. To that end,
this report presented novel
data on Australian blockchain
activities, examining the level
and nature of blockchain
activities undertaken by
companies headquartered in
Australia. These data reflect
a growing but still immature
industry, with a particular
need to expand the domestic
workforce to meet increasing
demand for blockchain-related
skills in the domestic and global
labour markets.
But how will the next 10 years
unfold, and what will the
future of blockchain adoption
in Australia look like? The
answer to this question hinges
on the development of a
number of key uncertainties:
will the technology be able
to overcome technical
constraints around scalability
vs decentralisation, and
confidentiality vs transparency?
Will social trust shift towards
decentralised technologies
(including blockchain) and
away from established
intermediary institutions? Will
blockchain be able to offer
a cost-efficient solution for
business, government and
other organisations?
56
By exploring the intersection
of these uncertainties, this
report produced eight plausible,
evidence-based scenarios for
blockchain adoption in Australia
out to 2030. The scenarios
demonstrated the intersection
between multiple technological,
environmental, economic,
social and geopolitical shifts,
and how these changes could
yield different futures for
the blockchain labour force,
industry and export market in
Australia. Rather than predicting
the future, these scenarios
are designed to challenge
current perspectives, define and
explore key uncertainties, and
provide a common set of shared
narratives that can be used
by industry, government and
community stakeholders.
The scenarios raised key
implications for future policy and
strategic decisions concerning
blockchain in Australia. The
report concluded by exploring
two major areas for future
consideration: (i) Australia’s
competitive advantage in the
global blockchain industry,
and (ii) the transition period
to a future with higher levels
of blockchain adoption. It
then outlined some possible
future actions, in particular,
the importance of growing
the blockchain workforce and
skills level was emphasised,
as well as developing and
improving supporting elements,
such as digital infrastructure,
cyber security strategies and
regulatory frameworks.
Blockchain technology
represents a major opportunity
to improve organisational
processes via increased speed,
efficiency and transparency.
At a broader level, it has
the potential to create new
industries, generate new jobs,
and become an important driver
of Australia’s future economic
growth. But its future adoption
in Australia is uncertain. This
report has explored the different
facets of this uncertainty to take
a nuanced, long-range view of
the future, putting government,
industry and community leaders
in a better position to leverage
opportunities, mitigate risks and
make informed decisions in the
decade to come.
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 57
Strategic foresight is a well-
established discipline which helps
to inform strategic decision-making
by exploring plausible futures. It
first emerged after World War II,
with an early focus on technology
forecasting. Thereafter, the
strategic foresight field was given
a boost by the formation of Royal
Dutch Shell’s scenario planning
team during the 1970s.178 Since
then, the scenario planning
approach has emerged into a
field of knowledge with numerous
professional guides and books
published its methods and practice.
More recently, strategic foresight
has made its way onto the world
stage. OECD Secretary General
Angel Gurria, in his 2016 opening
remarks to the Government
Foresight Community in Paris,
explicitly noted the importance of
strategic foresight for exploring
the unexpected.179 As the creative
destruction of the Fourth Industrial
Revolution creates conditions
of turbulence, unpredictable
uncertainty, novelty and ambiguity
(TUNA conditions), strategic
foresight is coming even further to
the fore.180
Two specific techniques under the
umbrella of strategic foresight
have been employed in this
report— horizon scanning and
scenario planning (see Figure 32).
Data61 used these techniques
in combination to craft and
communicate a narrative about the
future of blockchain adoption in
Australia, and to derive implications
informing strategic decision-making.
The horizon scan involved a
rigorous and systematic process
of identifying trends relevant to
Australian blockchain adoption,
which could impact future decision-
making. Trends can be understood
as impactful changes that are
likely to shape and influence the
future and were classified as either
social, geopolitical, economic,
technological or environmental.
Trends data were sourced from
international and national statistics,
the Data61 trends database,
literature, internal workshops and
stakeholder consultations, including
interviews and the ACS Blockchain
Industry Survey.
The scenario planning process
followed from and built on the
results of the horizon scan. It
involved the evidence-based and
logical imagining and explication of
plausible future scenarios. In this
report, eight plausible scenarios
have been developed for Australian
blockchain adoption in 2030. Each
scenario was crafted with reference
to plausible outcomes for labour,
industries and exports.
The results from both the horizon
scanning and scenario-planning
exercises were thereafter rigorously
informed and validated by a series
of 15 interviews and a workshop,
undertaken with key stakeholders
and experts in the Australian
blockchain space. The interviews
were 30 minutes each, with five
standardised questions asked of
each participant.
Appendix A: Strategic foresight
methodology
58
FIGURE 32. CSIRO’S STRATEGIC FORESIGHT APPROACH
UNDERSTAND CORE ISSUES, QUESTIONS & SCOPE OF PROJECT
PROJECT INCEPTION & BACKGROUND STUDY
CONDUCT HORIZON SCAN
HORIZON SCAN & INVESTIGATIVE INTERVIEWS
GEOPOLITICAL SOCIAL ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGICAL
IDENTIFY SALIENT PATTERNS OF CHANGE
SCREEN, CLASSIFY, VALIDATE & PRIORITISE TRENDS
DEVELOP DRAFT SCENARIOS
TEST & REFINE TRENDS AND SCENARIOS
SCENARIOS VALIDATION WORKSHOP
CRAFT & COMMUNICATE FINAL REPORT
INFORM FUTURE STRATEGIC & POLICY DECISIONS
4
3
2
1
5
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 59
Appendix B: Regulatory
measures for blockchain
COUNTRY EXAMPLES OF REGULATORY MEASURES
Australia 1999: Smart contracts were permitted in Australia under the Electronic Transactions
Act 1999, given that they satisfy all the traditional elements of legal contracts.
2017: The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment Act
2017 was passed, bringing cryptocurrencies into the scope of the country’s regime for
anti-money laundering.
2018: The Australian Securities and Investments Commission released information
providing guidance about how the Corporations Act may apply to Initial Coin Offerings
(ICOs) and crypto-assets.
In December 2018 new encryption law passed the Senate. It allows greater access to
encrypted messages for security agencies.
China 2013: Bitcoin was defined as a virtual commodity that can be traded online by citizens.
2014: The People’s Bank of China ordered the account closures of banks and payment
companies that were opened by operators of virtual-currency trading websites.
2017: China banned ICOs, with a list of 60 ICO platforms to be inspected by local
financial watchdogs.
2018: Government agencies combined to form a taskforce, instructing local authorities
to urge miners to stop their activities.
South Korea 2017: The country’s financial regulator prohibited the issuance of new trading accounts
by cryptocurrency exchanges. The Financial Services Commission considered closing
down domestic exchanges for digital currency, and has placed stringent requirements
on exchange activity.
Japan 2017: Japan introduced policy allowing merchants to legally accept Bitcoin as payment.
2018: ICO regulation was proposed by a government-backed research group.
USA 2017: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a warning to investors
about the lack of investor protection in cryptocurrency and ICO markets compared with
traditional securities.
2018: The SEC announced settled litigation and a consent decree targeting two
companies that conducted ICOs.
UK 2017: The Financial Conduct Authority issued a statement illustrating the risks of
investing in ICOs.
The table below provides some example regulatory measures introduced for blockchain and crypto-assets around the
world36-41
60
EU 2018: The European Supervisory Authorities for securities, banking, insurance and
pensions issued a statement about the risks of virtual currencies. In May 2018, the
European Union (EU) introduced General Data Protection Regulation, which outlines
that citizens of the EU have the ‘right to be forgotten’ online.
Belarus 2018: A Presidential Decree on the development of the digital economy establishes the
legal framework for buying, selling, exchanging, creating, and mining cryptocurrencies
and tokens in Belarus and specifically for entities operating on the territory of the High
Technologies Park.
France 2016: Two provisions allowed the use of blockchain technology for a type of zero-coupon
bond.
2017: An ordinance allowed the use of blockchain for a broader range of financial
instruments.
Switzerland 2014: The Swiss Federal Council classifies virtual currencies as asset (property).
2018: The Swiss State Secretariat for International Finance sets up a working group on
blockchain and ICOs to study the legal framework with a goal to become a ‘blockchain
and fintech nation’.
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 61
Appendix C: Approach used in
labour and industry analyses
Industry analysis approach
The dataset was compiled through a progressive online scan for Australian blockchain activities and companies
between July and August 2018. Blockchain activity is defined as organisational actions aimed toward implementing
or developing blockchain innovation, to yield blockchain products. Blockchain activity was classified as Australian if
involved companies were founded and/or headquartered in the country. Data sources include Crunchbase, LinkedIn,
media articles and company websites.
From this scan, activity details were extracted, organised and consolidated. The following data was collected on
blockchain companies: state/territory, firm size, blockchain activity, industry and starting year. Blockchain activity
types were divided into three categories: focused (single application products of the technology in a specific industry
for a specific problem), farsighted (application products that could provide a solution to numerous problems in
a single industry or across industries) or facilitative (providing finance, crypto-exchange, consulting or technical
services for blockchain-related productisation).
Labour analysis approach
Analysis of the demand for blockchain labour in Australia was based on the data from Burning Glass Technologies
(BGT).181 BGT collects real-time online job postings from company websites and major job boards, removes duplicate
advertisements and parses the advertisements into a systematic and searchable form. The data from BGT has been
broadly applied in Australia and internationally for research into labour demand patterns and projections.182
In this report, data on blockchain jobs were obtained by filtering the BGT Labour Insight database. To identify technical
skills for blockchain labour, our searching algorithm used ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrency’, as well as various skill
categories, as search keywords. Enterprise skills are defined as transferrable skills that can be applied in a range of
professions and industries, and are not unique to specific technical domains or jobs.
It needs to be acknowledged that BGT takes all efforts to remove duplicate job listings from their database, as well
as to provide accurate coding for job classifications. However, the possibility that duplicate online job listings and/or
miscoded data are present in the database cannot be completely excluded. BGT also provides no warranty as to the
accuracy or completeness of the data; however, the dataset covers all available online sources (open for crawling).
62
Appendix D: High-profile use
cases of blockchain in Australia
The below examples are high-profile use cases of blockchain that were identified as part of Data61’s Australian
Blockchain Activity dataset:
In July 2018, the Australian Government awarded IBM a five-year partnership incorporating cross-brand solutions
involving IBM software, cloud-capabilities and hardware, along with innovation programs aiming to push the
government’s agenda for digital transformation, including acceleration of blockchain application.54
In the 2018–19 Federal Budget, $700,000 was reallocated for investigating the benefits of blockchain-augmented
government services by the Digital Transformation Agency. The investigation was proposed to involve research
into blockchain’s current maturity, government readiness for adoption, and identifying problems the technology
could solve, with an understanding of how government services could be supported by blockchain.164
In January 2017 the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) supplied a crypto-bond for the Queensland Treasury
Corporation (QTC)—a world first. This allowed QTC to generate a bond tender, see the investor bids in real time,
finalise the allocation of investment, and instantly settle with investors. These capabilities reduce settlement
risks and streamline the issuance process.49
Since January 2016, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has been collaborating with Digital Assets to
examine and test the capacity of DLT to replace its CHESS (Clearing House Electronic Subregister System).
In December 2017, the decision was made to continue with a DLT replacement. The ASX’s DLT solution would
establish a solid foundation for clearing provisions, enabling settlement and other post-trade services.169
Announced in August 2018, the Australian National Blockchain is a new technology platform that will help to
securely and transparently manage legal agreements. The blockchain built by the consortium of Herbert Smith
Freehills, Data61, IBM and King & Wood Mallesons will enable companies to use the network for digital contracts,
exchanging data, and authenticating/confirming legal contract status. It is proposed to be a publicly accessible
blockchain solution at scale for Australian businesses, with the aim of enhancing legal compliance processes.183
The World Bank selected CBA to arrange a blockchain-based ‘bond-i’ (Blockchain Offered New Debt Instrument).
The bond-i has been developed through collaboration with the Treasury Corporation of Victoria, QBE and
Northern Trust. The crypto-bond blockchain will be run simultaneously in Sydney and Washington so that bonds
can be created, allocated, transferred and managed.50
In March 2018, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology commenced Australia’s first short university course
on blockchain strategy. The program is industry-focused and was built in collaboration with the Blockchain
Innovation Hub, Stone and Chalk, and Accenture.62 The program will help students understand blockchain
technology and its potential impact on society, applications across industries, value propositions, and strategic
frameworks for blockchain application.184
In October 2018, CBA and CSIRO’s Data61 announced the development of a world-first application trial for smart
money that would be programmable, personalised, and integrated with Australia’s New Payments Platform.13
The app prototype has been trialled through the National Disability Insurance Scheme.14 Smart money has the
potential to increase transparency, visibility and accountability for government payments, reduce administration
costs for businesses, and enable companies to create innovative payment services and business models.13, 185
BLOCKCHAIN 2030: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN IN AUSTRALIA 63
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68
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... markets themselves [6]. Whether these changes can be realised is a question predicated on the level of adoption of blockchain as a technology for economic interaction [7]. This article investigates which skills are in demand for blockchain employees as the technology progresses beyond the initial hype that typically follows the introduction of a new technology, through the notorious 'trough of disillusionment' and finally into a 'plateau of productivity'-where most of the substantial economic gains can be produced [8]. ...
... We will now use the Australian labour market data to consider which skills are required for blockchain employees. We will explore blockchain-related job ads in two data sets on the Australian labour market (BGT's Labor Insight™ data set [7] and the Data61 Australian Skills Dashboard [27]). This article extends on previous research by Data61 [7]. ...
... We will explore blockchain-related job ads in two data sets on the Australian labour market (BGT's Labor Insight™ data set [7] and the Data61 Australian Skills Dashboard [27]). This article extends on previous research by Data61 [7]. ...
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LinkedIn recently predicted that blockchain skills will be the most in-demand skill in 2020, and in 2018 blockchain led the list of the fastest growing skills in demand according to Upwork. But what exactly constitutes the skill set of a blockchain employee? We use Australian labour market data to explore what skills are in demand among the blockchain workforce. We also take a deeper dive and explore what educational qualifications and experiences are required of blockchain employees, and how blockchain-related jobs perform on salary scales. We discover that alongside 'hard' software engineering skills such as programming languages or computer science, blockchain-related jobs require candidates to have 'soft' skills such as creativity, communication and leadership. To explain this, we use institutional cryptoeconomics, applied game theory and applied behavioural science to suggest that the demand for skills may be understood as a function of challenges to blockchain adoption. We suggest that for blockchain to enter a mass adoption phase, the industry will need employees with an integrated skill set of both hard software engineering skills and soft behavioural or enterprise skills. Furthermore, blockchain leaders, community leaders and end users will need to gain 'blockchain literacy' to overcome the challenge of coordinating expectations by developers and users, who will create network externalities and facilitate rapid, coordinated adoption. We contribute to the evidence-based blockchain literature by using Australian labour market data to derive insight into the challenges posed to the adoption of blockchain as (and if) it climbs out of the current 'trough of disillusionment'.
... The concepts of blockchain have been generalised to distributed ledger systems that ensure distributed trust without the need for third party intermediaries in business transactions [29]. A large number of projects have been conducted to explore how to re-architect application systems, and to build new applications and business models using blockchain as a general, decentralised computing and storage environment through the advent of smart contracts (i.e., programs on a blockchain) [6]. ...
... Additionally, a node operator may be banned for a particular time period (by defalut 24 hours) if he/she sends false information, as a waste of bandwidth and computing resources 6 . In Ethereum, certain proportion of total amount sold, which is about 60 million ETH, is distributed to compensate early contributors. ...
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Blockchain eliminates the need for trusted third party intermediaries in business by enabling decentralised architecture in software applications. However, vulnerabilities in on-chain autonomous decision-making and cumbersome off-chain coordination have led to serious concerns about blockchain's ability to behave and make decisions in a trustworthy and efficient way. Blockchain governance has received considerable attention to support the decision-making process during the use and evolution of blockchain. Nevertheless, conventional governance frameworks are not applicable to blockchain due to its inherent distributed architecture and decentralised decision process, which leads to the absence of clear source of authority. Currently, there is a lack of systematic guidance on how blockchain governance can be implemented. Therefore, in this paper, we present a comprehensive blockchain governance framework that elucidates an integrated view of the degree of decentralisation, decision rights, incentives, accountability, ecosystem, and legal and ethical responsibilities. The proposed framework is evaluated using four well-known blockchain platforms in terms of feasibility, applicability, and usability.
... It can also help reduce and eliminate risks related to food safety, counterfeit goods, forced labor, child labor, corruption, LOGISTIQUA 2020 December 02 -04 HST (EST) Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University Morocco etc. [16]. In addition, the blockchain can contribute to the management of intellectual property rights, through the transparency of its processes for the registration of rights, licensing, enforcement and tax issues. ...
... Indeed, although created for very similar purposes, there are multiple initiatives in the area of blockchains that are operating on different platforms to identify and collect information in multiple ways under different governance structures. The approach to introducing this blockchain technology could lead to the introduction of "islands of blockchains", which would result in fragmentation and disconnection of blockchain platforms at the level of border agencies [16]. ...
... Request permissions from permissions@acm.org. EuroPLoP '21, July 04-08, 2021, Irsee, Germany blockchain as a general, decentralised computing and storage environment through the advent of smart contracts (i.e., programs on a blockchain) [5]. ...
... Other high-tech solutions with growing export opportunities, where Australia has a competitive advantage, include regtech and blockchain [99]. Australian researchers and startups are at the forefront of blockchain development and adoption and many world-known blockchain trials took place in Australia, including in energy trading, smart contracts, water, intellectual property (IP) rights, and digital identity, among others [173]. High-tech industry is quickly evolving and provides market solutions for enhanced productivity, transparency, provenance, and compliance. ...
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The purpose of this report is to help secure Australia’s future and catalyse new trade and investment by identifying global megatrends emerging in the post-COVID-19 world. This report presents the results of a CSIRO and Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) strategic foresight study exploring changes in the global trade and investment landscape likely to occur over the coming months and years. The report also presents a set of strategic actions for Australian governments and industries to capitalise on significant shifts in the global trade and investment landscape. Trade and investment strategies responding to the new normal of the mid/post-COVID-19 world will boost jobs and growth plus speed up Australia’s economic recovery.
... Blockchain is an emerging distributed ledger technology that has attracted a broad range of interests from the academia and industry to build the next generation of trustworthy applications. A large number of projects have been conducted to explore how to re-architect systems, and to build new applications and business models using blockchain as a general, decentralised computing and storage environment through the advent of smart contracts (i.e., programs on a blockchain) [1]. ...
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As the killer application of blockchain technology, blockchain-based payments have attracted extensive attention ranging from hobbyists to corporates to regulatory bodies. Blockchain facilitates fast, secure, and cross-border payments without the need for intermediaries such as banks. Because the blockchain technology is still emerging, systematically organised knowledge providing a holistic and comprehensive view on designing payment applications that use blockchain is yet to be established. If such knowledge could be established in the form of a set of blockchain-specific design patterns, architects could use those patterns in designing a payment application that leverages blockchain. Therefore, in this paper, we first identify a token's lifecycle and then present 15 design patterns that cover critical aspects in enabling the state transitions of a token in blockchain-based payment applications. The lifecycle and the annotated design patterns provide a payment-focused systematic view of system interactions and a guide to effective use of the design patterns.
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Conditional payments allow the transfer of money only when pre-defined rules hold. Example uses could include welfare payments, employee expenses, insurance payouts, or tied donations. Normally, conditions are checked manually in reimbursement or pre-approval/audit processes, either at accounts before funds are distributed, or using account records after distribution. Blockchain’s capabilities for smart contract and digital assets can be used to implement next-generation conditional payments, on a decentralized ledger. We conducted a project with an industry partner where we conceptualized, implemented, and evaluated a novel programmable money concept using blockchain. In the system, programmed policies are not attached to accounts, but instead to money itself. Policies here specify the conditions when money may be spent, and can be automatically checked by the money as it is spent. Policies can also define auxiliary actions to be taken as part of payment transactions, including side-payments. Policies can be dynamically added to and removed from money as it flows through an economy. These policies could be budget rules for tied funds, but could also enable new forms of “values-based money” that respect ethical or other rules which relate to societal values or social norms. We report on some of our experiences and insights regarding blockchain architecture, software engineering with blockchain, and blockchain-based programmable money. We also identify opportunities and open research questions in these areas.
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Blockchains have been applied in different domains to guarantee data integrity and provide a decentralized computational infrastructure for executing smart contracts. Multiple blockchain-related patterns have been summarized by academics and industry practitioners covering different aspects, such as engineering applications on top of a blockchain, structuring smart contracts, and security. The existence of these patterns is both helpful and challenging for designers. Helpful, as the existence of these patterns means that developers do not need to recreate solutions to common problems. Challenging, as the multitude of patterns leaves a designer confused about when to adopt or adapt patterns. In this paper, we propose a decision model that assists developers and architects in selecting appropriate patterns for blockchain-based applications. The selection is based on the characteristics of the use cases and trade-offs implicit in the patterns. We evaluated the proposed decision model based on expert opinion regarding its correctness and usefulness in guiding the architecture design and understanding the rationale of various design decisions.