The report was released late last week as part of a larger initiative led by Standards Australia to develop international blockchain standards.
KWM partner Scott Farrell, who sits on the federal government’s FinTech Advisory Group, said the report is an important step in establishing Australia as a leader in the blockchain space.
He noted that its recommendations would position Australia to capitalise on blockchain, improving industry, consumer and market confidence in the technology.
“Australia is emerging as one of the global leaders in blockchain development,” Mr Farrell said.
However, the cross-jurisdictional, decentralised nature of many blockchain projects poses significant challenges in regulation and accountability. It is for this reason, according to Mr Farrell, that strong international standards are required.
“The roadmap has been prepared by Standards Australia to assist the standard-making process in a number of ways [including] identifying the various technical issues associated with developing, governing and utilising blockchain-related technology; identifying blockchain-related technology relevant to Australia and assess the need for standards to support the specific use-cases; prioritising the order of standards development activities that could be undertaken in the development of blockchain standards by the international standards committee; considering the role of standards in supporting potential future regulation of blockchain and the relationship between the law and standards; considering the pathways and structures that can be utilised for the creation of the new international standards,” he said.
The report was written based on consultations during 2016 and 2017 with industry, consumer, academic and government stakeholders. It found that there was widespread support for greater regulation of blockchain.
“More than 88 per cent of survey respondents suggested that either national standards, international standards or a mixture of standards and regulation are required to support an appropriate co-regulatory framework for blockchain-related industries,” the report said.
With less than 3 per cent of respondents stating that laws and regulation alone would be sufficient, there is clear demand from stakeholders for stronger standards surrounding blockchain.
“Importantly, the roadmap acknowledges that standards would not replace regulation but instead would support it,” Mr Farrell said.
“A sound legal, regulatory and contractual framework is critical to the success of blockchain technologies.”
The release of the report follows the recent 2017 Blockchain Summit, which discussed the issues surrounding blockchain regulation and the impact the technology will have on the legal profession.