Australian Govt. body believes blockchain is hyped by tech vendors

While it has blockchain projects in the pipeline, the DTA says there is currently better technology.

The Australian Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), and government body charged “helping government departments and agencies undergo digital transformation” has called into question the use cases for – and interest in – blockchain technology following a $700,000 investigation into the sector.

Yesterday, the body’s chief digital officer, Peter Alexander, told Australian Senators that “Blockchain is an interesting technology that would well worth being observed,”  but that “for every use of blockchain you would consider today, there is a better technology.”

He went on to say that blockchain was early in its development and “at the top of a hype cycle.”

“I think it would be fair to say a lot of big vendors, and technology vendors, are pushing blockchain very hard, they see sales opportunity in it,” Alexander is reported by ZDNet as saying. “So internationally, most of the hype around it is from vendors and companies, not from governments, or users and deliverers of services who are saying ‘blockchain is the solution to our problem’.

“It’s not that we don’t trust any of the vendors — that would be an unfair characterisation — we trust the vendors, but note that the motivation is generally sales and making revenue.”

The Senate Estimates hearing – part of the Australian Federal budget cycle – was also told that while Blockchains have applications in “low trust” environments, the government currently prizes “trusted relationships” and knowing exactly who it is interacting with.

Under questioning on the sector, the DTA did say it was working with branches of the Australian govt. that are taking a look into blockchain technology, however. This included a project examining freight monitoring, and applying smart contracts to duties and tariffs; parts of the Treasury looking at its use in payments and settlements; and its usefulness as a way of ensuring food provenance – and area that has been explored elsewhere.

One of the more advanced plans appears to be the use of blockchain within the welfare payments system, potentially to limit the possible uses for welfare payments to individuals. Alexander told the hearing a little about how this may operates, saying that “the smart contract, the programmable currency, can release that fund for a particular purchase, and say no for another without having an intervention,”