- J McGlynn and M Bacina
Blockchain abound in Aus Senate Technology Committee 2nd Interim Report
The Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, chaired by Senator Andrew Bragg, has published its 2nd interim report making 23 recommendations to "lift skills and investment in the fintech sector", including two which strongly lobbied for a "standalone RDTI scheme for software startups" and "the potential adaptation of an affiliate or intermediary model of Consumer Data Rights (CDR) [like Britain], which could help Open Banking to take hold in Australia."
Afterpay CEO, Anthony Elisen, was reported encouraging Australia to capitalise on its successful COVID-19 response to get ahead in the "emerging global war for software engineering talent" which the RDTI incentive and CDR approach seeks to address.
In an effort to respond to increasing calls for the improvement of tech-policy to boost competition and innovation, the Senate committee also called for:
a review of the global talent visa program, changes to insider trading rules to encourage ASX listings, and [as "a matter of priority"] improved clarity on the legal standing of “smart contracts” running on blockchains.
The advocacy to harness blockchain technology and make Australia a more hospitable place for innovators to set up shop was apparent, with recommendations supporting blockchain including:
That the Council of Financial Regulators Cyber Working Group take into account international data standards for blockchain and smart contracts via Standards Australia (Recommendation 14);
That the Department of Industry regularly pubklish information about the National Blockchain Roadmap's implementation and evaluation of that implementation (Recommendation 15);
That the Department of Industry "act flexibly and responsibly" to update the National Blockchain Roadmap (Recommendation 16);
That National Cabinet consider supporting a blockchain land registry pilot (Recommendation 17);
The Australian Government improve clarity on the standing of smart contracts "as a matter of priority" (Recommendation 18);
The committee also sought the digitisation of compliance feeding through to a "rules as code" innovation hub to enhance compliance. These recommendations demonstrate tangible ways for various facets of government and regulatory bodies to provide clarity for start-ups, consumers and also push for potentially pivotal initiatives.
Digital asset policy are high on the committee's agenda as "an area that will be of continued focus for the remainder of the committee's inquiry". This is the best opportunity the Australian Blockchain community has to help guide Australia's regulatory landscape and we look forward to receiving the full picture of how the government proposes to help Australia continue to strive to be a "a successful tech-based