IBM, Data61 and Herbert Smith Freehills Join Forces for Australian National Blockchain Project

An Australian federal agency is going to launch a national blockchain that will let companies conduct transactions based on smart legal contracts.

Photo: CSIRO

Photo: CSIRO

The Australian government is seriously interested in using blockchain technology for streamlining business processes. As it has become known the research arm of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Data61, is cooperating with law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and IBM with a view to launch a new platform that will be named the Australian National Blockchain.

It is said that the Australian National Blockchain will enable companies to manage the entire lifecycle of a contract digitally, starting with a process of negotiations, proceeding to a moment of signing and continuing over the whole term of the agreement.

The main goal of the technology is digitalization of transactions on the base of pre-defined legal terms that fully comply with Australian regulations. These terms are coded into smart contracts and are placed in an IBM-powered blockchain network.

This solution will provide companies with an opportunity to facilitate their business processes and events, exchange data with other companies on the network as well as confirm the authenticity of their legal contracts.

Blockchain is transforming not only financial sphere. The legal industry is also being actively transformed by new technologies. Commenting the new project and the potential of blockchain for the industry, Natasha Blycha, Blockchain and Smart Legal Contract lead from Herbert Smith Freehills, said:

“This presents a huge opportunity for agile and forward-thinking firms, and has potential to deliver significant benefits to our clients and the business community as a whole. Our clients are enthusiastic about process automation, and how it can support a move away from paper-based systems, simplify supply chains, and quickly and securely share information with customers and regulators.”

The concept that is being developed by Data61, IBM, and Herbert Smith Freehills will be first tested in the form of a pilot project. The companies are already leading negotiations with one unnamed law firm in Australia with a view to present the Australian National Blockchain to the market. Moreover, it is expected that regulators, banks, and a wide range of Australian companies will join the pilot that is planned to be held later this year.

There are also some talks about bringing the solution to other markets in case of a successful pilot in Australia. Speaking about the technical aspect of the project, Paul Hutchison, IBM Global Business Services vice president, said:

“IBM Blockchain and the IBM Cloud provide the highest level of security to support even highly regulated industries such as healthcare and government, and IBM has extensive experience building blockchain networks and convening large consortia focused around solving important business problems.”

Before launching this project, Data61 conducted some research aimed at studying possibilities of adoption blockchain technology by the government and the business sectors. According to research scientist Dr. Mark Staples, distributed ledger technology could become a”significant opportunity for Australia to create productivity benefits and drive local innovation.”

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