ISO Appoints Australia to Take Global Lead on Blockchain Standards

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Australia will take the driver’s seat in setting a uniform approach for the development of blockchain standards globally.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), widely regarded as the primary global standards authority has approved an earlier proposal [PDF] put forth by Standards Australia – the country’s national standards authority – that sought to develop uniform global standards for blockchain technology.

The ISO agreed to appoint Australia to lead an international technical committee that will now build a uniform approach to the technology.

In its initial proposal, Standards Australia opined that the committee’s work will focus on key facets such as:

  • Permission models – public and private
  • Smart contracts
  • Application programming interfaces and more.

The committee banded together will see 35 ISO members from countries including the US, UK, Germany and Japan among others who will now create common standards for the “interoperability among systems, privacy, security and terminology.”

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The proposal sought to leverage the existing SWIFT ISO 20222 standard for developing blockchain standards. The standard fundamentally applies for electronic data interchange between financial institutions and is widely used in the financial services sector.

Following today’s approval, Australia’s Treasurer Scott Morrison stated:

Establishing standards around this emerging technology will provide a common language for industry, policy makers, regulators and technology developers. This will provide a basis for ensuring interoperability as this technology becomes more widely used.

A report from The Australian reveals that the decision was taken by the ISO at a Beijing meeting which will see Australia manage the secretariat for the new international committee.

Standards Australia is one of over 160 national standards organizations recognized by the ISO as its Australian member. The national authority made its case to the latter for the need to have an ISO standard certification for blockchain technology earlier this year in April.

At the time, Standards Australia general manager and acting CEO Adrian O’Connell explained the need for an ISO standard for distributed ledgers:

Having interoperability between the different blockchain traders around the world will be key to unlocking the potential for blockchain. It requires international standards to help unlock its potential and the best means to do so is through the ISO.

The proposal was reviewed the ISO’s 161 member bodies before seeing its approval today.

The Blockchain Clutter Cleared?

The overall blockchain industry beyond bitcoin and digital currencies is seeing plenty of interest and investment, with companies across industries flocking to tap into the potential and promise of the innovation. Several notable blockchain initiatives include the likes of the R3-led banking blockchain consortium, the open-source Hyperledger project governed by the Linux Foundation and tech giant Microsoft’s blockchain-as-a-service offering in its Azure cloud platform, among several others.

With several different protocols being developed around the world, a uniform standard to ensure interoperability between different blockhains could prove critical to what is still a nascent industry.

In quotes reported by The Australian, Standards Australia CEO Bronwyn Evans said:

Leading the ISO blockchain committee will place Australia in a perfect position to help inform, shape and influence the future direction of international standards to support the rollout and deployment of blockchain technology.

Images from Shutterstock.

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