In a blockchain network, different blocks contain data about transactions, trades, and contracts within the system in cryptographic form. For example, blocks may contain details about a financial transaction, medical records, or even voting results. All blocks are lined up in a chain and are interconnected, so in order to create a new block, the information about old blocks should be sequentially read first.
The Australian Government has published the National Blockchain Roadmap. It outlines three key areas in which Australia should focus its attention when it comes to blockchain investment and development:
* Regulations and standards,
* Skills, capability and innovation,
* International investment and collaboration.
It sets out a 12 step plan over the next five years:
1. Formalise the National Blockchain Roadmap Advisory Committee and rename it the National Blockchain Roadmap Steering Committee.
2. Establish a collaborative model comprising industry, the research sector and government working groups to progress analysis on the next use cases.
3. Investigate options for progressing the three use cases in the Roadmap.
4. Government to establish and coordinate a group of government blockchain users, with state and territory government representatives.
5. Look internationally to identify examples of countries using blockchain to provide efficient government services, for example Estonia, for lessons for Australia.
6. Work closely with blockchain providers to engage with the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) program.
7. Ensure that blockchain is included in broader policy work to increase management capability around digital technologies.
8. Industry and educational institutions work together to develop common frameworks and course content for blockchain qualifications.
9. Work with Austrade on a capability development program for Australian blockchain start-ups.
10. Work with Austrade to deliver a blockchain focussed inbound investment program.
11. Leverage existing bilateral agreements to consider pilot projects.
12. Work with relevant government departments to ensure Australian businesses can connect into emerging digital trade infrastructure.
Read through the Australian Government’s National Blockchain Roadmap; especially the case studies in the report.
Consider whether your own organisation is currently using, or planning to use, blockchain technology. Consider including an analysis of potential uses in the longer term, especially if your organisation is in the finance, health, manufacturing, trade or higher education industries. Blockchain can help overcome the significant inefficiencies of large, decentralised computer networks that always need to be on.
Consider the following advantages and how your organisation can benefit from the technology:
* Security. Blockchain is considered to be highly secure due to its use of digital signatures and encryption. The system is specially designed to be secure, convenient, and tamper-proof.
* Audit-ability. Given blockchain’s ability to provide a shared ledger of transactions to all parties, with full traceability of any assets and associated activity, organisations can not only cut their auditing costs but raise levels of confidence in the data they are producing without having to manually validate the data.
* Data Governance. Blockchain can improve data governance in three main areas: 1) data provenance and accuracy through knowing more about digital assets and accompanying data; 2) data integrity through access/authentication to the network and easy identification of manipulation or tampering; and 3) data aggregation and organisation, as blockchain enables the seamless sharing of real-time data from a single data source.
* Fraud control. A system that is based on data stored in a number of places is immune to hackers; it’s not that easy to get access to it, and if so, any piece of information can be easily recovered.
* Transparency. Banks, as well as their clients, are immediately notified about the completion of transactions, which is both convenient and trustworthy.
* Access levels. Users have to choose between public blockchain networks available for anyone and the ones requiring permission where each node should be first authorised for the user to enter.
* Speed. Transactions are processed way faster than usual as there is no need to include payment systems, which reduce the cost and increases the processing speed.
* Account reconciliation. The validity of transactions is checked and confirmed by participants, thus, they also confirm their own authenticity.
* Availability & resilience. Existing in a distributed form, blockchain creates a highly resilient network with multiple shared copies of the data, which mitigates the risk of an isolated attack or incident.