Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked the country’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to research blockchain, and how it could be used to improve government services, including welfare payments.
The Australian government has granted the agency a budget of AUD 700,000 (USD 530,000) in order to carry out an investigation into DLT, according to ITNews.
“The Prime Minister, in fact, wrote to our minister and asked us to have a look at blockchain, which evolved into this particular piece of work,” DTA chief digital officer Peter Alexander said.
The move is not entirely surprising given recent interest among financial instructions in the country, most significantly, the Australian Securities Exchange’s (ASX) recent plans to replace its current clearing and settlement system with a DLT model within the next two years.
“ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investments Commission) [was] looking at blockchain, immigration – now home affairs – was looking at blockchain and considering it, and more agencies were talking about it,” Alexander said, adding, “Lots of vendors were coming to government and talking about blockchain.”
The move is one of many focused on how the government can best leverage blockchain’s advantages, including another DTA announcement this week that the agency plans to look into how the technology can be used for making social security welfare payments to citizens.
The new plan is focused on payments by Centrelink, reports CCN. The DTA feels that there are significant advantages of delivering social security welfare to citizens over a blockchain. Centrelink, part of the Department of Health Services (DHS), is responsible for a range of payments, particularly those relating to unemployment, pensions, and health. DTA Chief executive Randall Brugeaud stated:
“Our plan is to look for use cases across the Commonwealth with an initial focus on the welfare payment delivery system, then working with our digital service standard, we’ll conduct user research a view of having a prototype by the end of the next financial years.”
Brugeaud added that the potential of blockchain to securely record transactions would be investigated, drawing on the experience of other public and private sector organizations.
As blockchain is increasingly being developed and employed in new sectors across the country, cryptocurrency is also increasing in popularity. While Australia may not be the largest market for Bitcoin and other digital currencies, it is one that is quickly growing. It is currently ranked the 13th in the world for Bitcoin trading volume.
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