Written by Matt Lathlean, Editor, Forefront Events
On the 21st August over 130 senior technology leaders met at the University of Technology Sydney to discuss ways in which blockchain technology can transform Australian enterprise.
It was quickly affirmed by Chairperson and blockchain evangelist, Dr. Philippa Ryan that the summit would not be a ‘blockchain 101’ crash course but rather an opportunity to move beyond the hype to identify how organisations can harness the technology to drive operational efficiencies and successfully get their blockchain projects off the ground.
The day commenced with an interactive panel titled: The Future of Blockchain for Australian Business, with Dan Chesterman, Chief Information Officer at ASX, Chris Connor, Executive Manager Emerging Technology, CBA and Mark Staples, Principal Researcher at Data61 sharing their thoughts and extensive experience across the topic.
The panel defined the importance of ‘trustlessness’ vs ‘trustworthiness’ before hearing the success of CBA’s recent blockchain enabled trade of almonds from Victoria to Hamburg. Security was a major focus, with one delegate writing in via the app: “It’s hard enough to prevent data theft from one system, will it not be a nightmare having to protect it in all systems in the chain?”
Philippa reasoned by saying it all comes down to risk appetite, “In 1969 we flew men to the moon with crappy tech knowing the risks involved, but that was because the pay off was worth it.”
Later in the morning Jamie Skella took the stage, Co-Founder of one of the country’s most transformative blockchain company’s ‘Horizon State’. Jamie outlined how blockchain could be used to support democracy through a digitised, secure and trustworthy ballot. One delegate pointed out that this could be very useful in a ‘Trump era of fake news and constant uncertainty.’
Katrina Donaghy was up next, the Co-CEO of the much publicised blockchain start-up ‘Civic Ledger’ who are currently utilising blockchain technology to modernise government services. Katrina stressed the importance of not just implementing a blockchain project for the sake of it, “(blockchain) must solve real problems, at a cost significantly lower than the benefits the adoption brings.”
Regulation and compliance was identified as a core challenge for the majority of attendees. To assist with these challenges Simon Burns, a Partner at Gilbert+Tobin moderated an interactive panel joined by Bernadette Jew, Founder of InnovArt and Dr. Philippa Ryan. Panellists addressed the obvious concerns in relation to data privacy and security, while Philippa used the analogy of navigating the current regulatory environment as not too dissimilar to swimming at the beach, “Swim between the flags, have somebody watching you and know when it is too risky to go in at all.”
After lunch delegates were eager to hear from HSBC’s Global Blockchain & DLT Lead Joshua Kroeker who flew in from Hong Kong to speak exclusively at the event. Josh outlined HSBC’s vision to transform trade finance through a secure and scalable, blockchain enabled network, which they achieved in May of 2018 with a shipment of soybeans from Argentina to Malaysia.
The room was soon broken up into two intimate round table discussions to address: “Blockchain skeptics vs evangelists,’ hosted by Unico and “Public, Private & Hybrid Blockchain,” hosted by Blockchain IT Solutions.
To close the event delegates were shown an innovative case study from Greg Adamson, the Chief Risk Officer of ArtChain, a Melbourne blockchain start up seeking to aid the art industry by assisting with provenance.
In summary, the day offered a strategic platform to discuss how blockchain technology can be used for a number of different strategic advantages. Key messages included: don’t just invest in the technology for the sake of it, be certain it will offer a benefit, understand the regulatory environment and utilise partnerships with people who know the technology.
*The Blockchain for Business Summit will move to Victoria in February 2019, offering new case studies and developments.