Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has announced the formation of a data consortium in partnership with IBM and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills for the purpose of building a groundbreaking large-scale, cross-industry smart contract platform for Australian businesses to collaborate and do business within.
Australian National Blockchain
The platform, which will be called the Australian National Blockchain (ANB) is being touted as potentially game-changing infrastructure within Australia's digital economy, helping businesses around the country make use of legally-enforceable smart contracts and exchange data, as well as confirm the status and authenticity of legal contracts.
When it is fully operational, the ANB will permit Australian businesses to electronically manage the entire life cycle of a smart contract from negotiation through to execution under complete transparency and trustless, permissioned-based access among parties on the platform.
In other words, Australian businesses will gain the ability to use smart contracts to automatically trigger business events and processes using preset milestones. The smart legal contracts (SLC) provided by ANB include clauses to accommodate recording of information from external data sources such as IoT devices, with the ability to self-execute once conditions listed in the contract are met.
This is an extension of CSIRO's extensive research into potential applications of blockchain technology for Australian businesses. In 2017, the Institute's Data61 research unit released comprehensive research reports for the Australian Treasury detailing strategies for blockchain technology adoption across government and commercial applications in Australia.
According to information from CSIRO, Herbert Smith Freehills, Data61, and IBM will initially trial ANB as a pilot project using IBM Blockchain. If the trial is successful, the plan is to deploy the framework across Australia and beyond.
Plans are already afoot to bring Australian regulators, banks, law firms and businesses onboard in the pilot, which is expected to kick off before the end of 2018.
Speaking ahead of the pilot, Paul Hutchison, vice president and partner, Cognitive Process Transformation, at IBM Global Business Services said:
“IBM Blockchain and the IBM Cloud provide the highest level of security to support even highly regulated industries such as healthcare and government, and IBM has extensive experience building blockchain networks and convening large consortia focused around solving important business problems. Blockchain will be to transactions what the internet was to communication – what starts as a tool for sharing information becomes transformational once adoption is widespread. The ANB could be that inflection point for commercial blockchain, spurring innovation and economic development throughout Australia.”
On his part, Dr Mark Staples, senior research scientist at Data61, expressed optimism that ANB will create an exciting range of new opportunities for Australian businesses.
“Our reports identified distributed ledger technology as a significant opportunity for Australia to create productivity benefits and drive local innovation. Data61’s independence and world-leading expertise will help to catalyse the creation of digital infrastructure for Australian businesses to transition to a digitally-enabled future. For complex enterprise contracts, there are huge opportunities to benefit from our research into blockchain architecture and into computational law. Smart contracts have many applications, and as the ANB progresses we look forward to exploring other business use cases to roll out.”
In July, CCN reported that IBM's we.trade finance blockchain platform recorded its first live trades following more than a year of development.
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