Blockchain is a revolutionary new approach to database management that's set to bring about some significant changes in existing Australian industries, and seed new ones. We've looked into how blockchain will change finance, agriculture and personalised health.

What's blockchain?

Blockchain is a form of distributed ledger technology (DLT) that connects different parties over the internet to provide a secure and trustworthy record of their transactions (both financial and non-financial), without giving control to a third party.

On blockchains, you can prove where information has come from and gone to, which means it has the potential to open up new economic activity in areas such as financial services, regtech, supply chains and government registries. 

ethviewer.live visualises the recent history of the public Ethereum blockchain. It shows the 24 most recent blocks (the boxes) of the blockchain and the current transaction pool (the group of circles).

The video below illustrates how blockchain can be used in food provenance, through a distributed and trustworthy database that proves the physical history of a piece of meat.

[On a black background, a pale green hexagonal pattern wipes down the top of frame and out of the bottom of frame, as the logos for Data61 and the CSIRO appear above the text, "Creating our data driven future" with the website address "www.data61.com.au"

In an animation, on a pale green background, a cow wears a blue prize ribbon.

On a map, lines arc from locations in Australia to locations in New Zealand and throughout Asia.

Blue prize ribbons are stuck on crates. A masked figure pushes a crate marked "Fake Meat" toward them. A ribbon falls off a crate.]

VOICEOVER: Australia's high-quality beef is in high demand, particularly in Asia. However, food fraud, like counterfeit Aussie beef, costs the global food industry an estimated US$40 billion each year. This erodes the reputation of Australian brands.

[On a menu, "Premium Beef Steak" is marked with a blue prize ribbon.

In a restaurant, a couple eat steak.]

VOICEOVER: So how can consumers and businesses trust that their premium Aussie steak really comes from the paddock promised on the label?

[Long dotted lines run from skyscrapers into the air. Handshake symbols appear on some of the lines. The logos for Data61 and the CSIRO sit above the buildings.

Text: Blockchain Technology.

Oblong symbols are connected in a chain. Each symbol contains five coloured pentagons. Five pentagons move into the open oblong at the end of the chain. The oblong closes and a new empty, open oblong appears at the end of the chain.]

VOICEOVER: To solve this problem, CSIRO's Data61, Australia's leading data innovation group, is working to help industry adopt revolutionary Blockchain technology.

[Pictures appear in a series of six arrows representing a supply chain - a cow, a factory, transport, a warehouse, a shop, and a plate. Silos appear above the arrowsDotted lines move from the the arrows to silos. Some silos are not connected to some arrows.]

VOICEOVER: Agricultural supply chain transactions are typically recorded in isolated data silos, making it difficult and time-consuming to audit the origin of products and prevent imitations from sneaking in.

[The blockchain graphic replaces the silos. When a coloured pentagon appears above one arrow, then pentagons of the same colour soon appear above all the other arrows, and then inside the open blockchain oblong. Blockchains appear below the arrows as well. These blockchains are also coordinated with all the arrows.]

VOICEOVER: Blockchain technology, on the other hand, is not owned by any single party. Rather, it's operated by a collective. It provides neutral ground for all stakeholders in the supply chain to record their interactions on a distributed ledger.

[In the blockchain above the arrows, the dots are replaced by padlocks in every oblong. The blockchains below the arrows are replaced by blue prize ribbons and handshake symbols.

A magnifying circle highlights a blockchain's oblong. Ticks appear inside all the pentagons.]

VOICEOVER: Blockchain's transparency and inherent resistance to tampering creates a distributed network of trust and integrity. Which means anyone can check every step in the history of the goods throughout the supply chain.

[Circles containing food, then a cow  a factory and a truck are surrounded by concentric rings of dotted lines.

A handshake symbol is labelled 'Trust'. A tick inside a decorated circle is labelled "Food Safety". A prize ribbon is labelled "Quality Brands".

A padlock inside a circle is labelled "Secure Trade". A dollar sign in a circle is labelled "Finance".]

VOICEOVER: When it comes to food, having reliable data that shows exactly where and how ingredients were grown, processed and distributed is essential to establish trust and food safety, as well as build high-quality brands, improve efficiency and secure trade. It also creates opportunities for new kinds of finance and insurance. To collaborate with Data61, visit data61.csiro.au/blockchain

[On a black screen, the logos for Data61 and the CSIRO appear above the text, "To collaborate with Data61, visit data61.csiro.au/blockchain."]

What’s the beef about blockchain?

Reports

In June 2017, Data61 released two major reports into the future of blockchain technology.

Blockchain is a revolutionary new approach to database management.

The first report, Distributed Ledgers: Scenarios for the Australian economy over the coming decades, explores four plausible adoption scenarios of blockchain technology in Australian in 2030. This approach includes scenarios that are aspirational and transformative, establish a new equilibrium and represent collapse.

The second report, Risks and opportunities for systems using blockchain and smart contracts, selects three use cases to examine how blockchain systems can support new markets and business models. These include: agricultural supply chains, government registries and remittance payments.

Research and People

Data61 continues to examine the role of blockchain in existing and future Australian industries. Our Blockchain research site, lists updates on the work of our researchers examining applications of distributed ledger technology in business, finance and agriculture.

Key blockchain researchers

Lucy Cameron View profile External link
- Data61

Phone +61 7 3833 5517

Sherry Xu View profile External link
Senior Research Scientist - Data61

Email Xiwei.Xu@data61.csiro.au

Ingo Weber View profile External link
Principal Research Scientist &Amp; Team Leader; C/ Assoc Prof, UNSW; Adj/ Assoc Prof, Swinburne - Data61

Phone +61294905617 (Mobile)
Email Ingo.Weber@data61.csiro.au

Media clips and articles

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