Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has completed a blockchain trial with one of Australia’s big four banks, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
The trial, announced last month, tested CSIRO’s blockchain-powered “smart money” with the help of carers and participants within Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS was initiated by the Australian government for citizens with disabilities, including intellectual, physical, sensory and psycho-social. It creates a managed market for disability services in Australia.
The trial revealed that the technology could increase patients’ choices and their levels of control over their support. Also, it was seen to help eliminate the need for unnecessary paperwork and reduced the risk of both fraud and financial calculation errors resulting in misspending. Ten participants and carers took part in the trials.
CSIRO’s Data61 principal software and computational systems researcher, Dr Mark Staples, claimed that the trial was insightful in giving researchers a greater understanding of both the pitfalls and some of the benefits of integrating smart money payments into the NDIS system. He added:
“This automation and flexibility could reduce friction and enable greater innovation in many payment environments and unlock network-effect benefits… directly connecting citizens to public policy programs, empowering people to optimize their spending through things like smart savings plans and smart diets, and reducing costs for businesses, including through the potential for self-taxing transactions.”
Commonwealth Bank’s head of government and ADIs, Julie Hunter, saw wide applications for the new technology in all sectors including the non-profit environment.
Australia’s previous prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had asked the country’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to research blockchain earlier this year. Principally, he asked for a focus on how the technology could be used to improve government services, including welfare payments. The Australian government granted the agency a budget of AUD 700,000 (USD 530,000) to carry out an investigation into DLT.
The move is one of many focused on how the government can best leverage blockchain’s advantages, including looking into how the technology can be used for making social security welfare payments to citizens. This latest CSIRO/Commonwealth Bank collaboration appears to be in line with the government’s current direction regarding implementing DLT into public services and other programs.
The new prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, plans to utilize blockchain technology to bring “much tougher competition” to the country’s big banks and dominant industries. He argued that the Australian banking system will be able to utilize DLT to help to transform areas of consumer data rights, open banking reforms, and new legislation.
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