An Australian federal agency is teaming up with American multinational technology company IBM to develop a national blockchain on which smart legal contracts can be carried out.

The research branch of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization known as Data61 have been working alongside both law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and IBM to create a pilot platform for the Australian National Blockchain (ANB) that will be available for use by businesses.

Australia-based companies will be able to use the network in order to utilize digital contracts, exchange data securely and confirm the authenticity and status of legally binding contracts. Upon finalization of the ANB, the developers hope to be able to offer a service that can fully manage the lifecycle of a contract through a permission-based access system from all parties.

The platform will also provide smart legal contracts with smart clauses and the ability to record external sources of data such as that retrieved from the Internet of Things, self-executing once all specified contract conditions are met. Designed for full legal compliance in Australia, ANB boasts to be the first large-scale, public to business blockchain solution.

Paul Hutchison, vice president and partner of Cognitive Process Transformation at IBM, pointed to the groundbreaking nature of blockchain technology, saying: ”Blockchain will be to transactions what the internet was to communication… ANB could likely spur innovation and economic development in the country as it harnesses that forward-thinking technology.”

The pilot is set to be launched by the end of the year for a number of invited regulators, banks, law firms and businesses to trial, with plans to eventually open up the platform to all companies in Australia.

Blockchain in Australia

While Australia may not have the highest rates of cryptocurrency adoption, it has made significant progress in terms of blockchain developments.

Earlier this month, the country’s government handed a USD 1.7 million grant to a sustainable sugar blockchain project that tracks the origins and movements of sugar imports. It is part of a larger initiative of the Smart Cane Best Management Practice that is attempting to bring transparency to the sugar industry and promote sustainability.

In July, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia successfully tracked a shipment of 17 tons of almonds from Sunraysia to Hamburg, Germany using blockchain. The blockchain stored documentation, finance information, and operations information, with customs documents uploaded as the shipment passed through countries’ borders.

 

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