Western Australia is having to reinvent itself after being the hub of Australia’s massive gold mining industry for years, and blockchain and cryptocurrency are beckoning.
Mining in Western Australia, together with the petroleum industry in the state, accounted for 92% of the State’s and 41% of Australia’s income from total merchandise exports in 2015-16. The state hosted 111 principal mining projects and hundreds of smaller quarries and mines.
Over the past few years mining has taken a hit, but this is nothing new to West Australians who have lived in a boom-bust economy for years. Experts say it is on the brink of another mining boom with new projects and tens of thousands of jobs to be created in the next year. FMG, Rio Tinto and BHP are set to invest billions of dollars to recruiters struggling already to keep up with demand for workers.
New game in town
The state’s capital, Perth, on the banks of the meandering Swan River, has been both the beneficiary and the victim of the state’s boom-bust economic roller coaster, most recently affected by China’s own economy and its need for minerals. A new game in town which local business has taken to is the city’s Blockchain Center, a project created in order to push new technologies such as blockchain into business and public consciousnesses. Investors in Perth have been moving away from the state’s backbone traditional investments such as real estate and mining over the past 18 months towards developing technologies.
Australia itself is becoming a blockchain and cryptocurrency trendsetter, with the newly-elected government showing a great interest in leveraging blockchain into government department systems in a number of sectors. Crypto towns have appeared, and in some areas travelling without a Bitcoin payment facility could cause problems for the keen traveller as locals try to create bitcoin communities to boost tourism.
Perth Blockchain Center will allow startups to share resources and ideas with like-minded business personnel and entrepreneurs. Sam Lee is the brains behind the venture, which he hopes will encourage business to stay in the city by offering every resource that a blockchain startup might need. He points out:
“Whether it’s a retail investor or a developer interested in implementing the technology, a blockchain center as the knowledge hub has the access required to upskill the local ecosystem to ensure better outcomes through higher quality projects.”
Lee maintains that a problem for new startups in this field is frequently that such companies are unable to access capital, often driving them overseas for a more supportive business environment. The center plans to change this situation, encouraging these young start-ups to stay in town through its knowledgeable local support.
Also in Western Australia’s capital, Perth Mint announced earlier this year that it had plans to win back investors who lost funds at the end of 2017 by creating the Mint’s own cryptocurrency backed by gold. Perth Mint is Australia’s largest exporter of gold, with about USD 18 billion in revenue from exported metals. Richard Hayes, Director of the Perth Mint commented:
“…you see this massive influx of capital and funds into Bitcoin and its derivatives because people are looking for something other than traditional forms of investment… [our own crypto] would have all the beneficial aspects of a distributed networks, namely very fast transactions which will facilitate trade. However, it will be backed and supported by precious metals. So, there is a non-virtual aspect of it that will ensure its value.”
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