At the beginning of February 2023, I attended the Monash University Blockchain Summer School hosted by the Algorand Centre of Excellence on Sustainability Informatics for the Pacific (ACE-SIP). It was a two-days well spent at my alma mater as I got the lay of the land for all things blockchain – innovation, research and regulation – in Australia and the pacific region.
Stablecoins and CBDC
One of the speakers at the event, a representative from Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) spoke about how they issued a Australian dollar stablecoin called the A$DC and are involved in a number of central bank digital currency initiatives in the region. Some quick googling revealed that National Australia Bank (NAB), a rival to ANZ Bank has been piloting a stablecoin called the AUDN. Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies whose value is pegged to an underlying fiat (government issued) currency and allow settling of transactions on blockchain technology in real-time. Issuing of stablecoins by ANZ and NAB – both in the ‘big four’ Australian banks – demonstrates one of the roles banks can play in driving innovation in the web3 economy, leveraging their brand visibility, domain knowledge and reputation.
The summer school, also showcased/mentioned a number of innovative web3 solutions and opportunities for blockchain in the region. Some of these include:
- CValid – a credentialing system for education and recruitment from Monash University. This innovative solution is set to revolutionise the education and recruitment industry, providing a secure and efficient way of verifying credentials.
- Water Ledger – a distributed, all-digital system modernising the way water rights are shared and reported (read more about Australian water rights here – https://www.pc.gov.au/research/completed/water-rights).
- Powerledger – a peer-to-peer renewable energy blockchain trading platform that allows consumers and producers to track, trace and trade every kilowatt of energy that is produced off-grid.
- FreshChain – a blockchain-based system to protect Australian exports and provide assurances to trading partners and consumers about the safety and quality of Australia’s produce. FreshChain is a recipient of the Australia Traceability Grants program.
- RedBelly blockchain – an Australian blockchain platform developed by the University of Sydney and the Australian government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
- The Australian governments Clean energy regulator considering blockchain solutions for “Guarantee of Origin” assurance scheme to verify emissions associated with hydrogen, renewable electricity and potentially other products made in Australia such as metals or biofuels.
- Sustainable supply chains e.g.tracking and tracing emissions across a supply chain – representing emissions digitally on a blockchain allows supply chain partners to make emissions data readily available and to share it with the next participant in the chain.
Major research themes I observed from the conference included:
- Formal and quantitative analysis of blockchain platforms i.e. blockchain network benchmarking.
- Post-quantum computing and blockchain security.
- Micropayments and streaming payments using channels.
Special mention and thanks to ACE-SIP and the Algorand Foundation for organising the event and the opportunity to participate.