Australia is set to play a leading role in the international development of blockchain after the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved Standards Australia’s proposal for new international standards. Blockchain technology is a potentially fundamental evolution in global markets infrastructure and the standards should be an important step towards international interoperability.

Australia is to manage the secretariat of the new international technical committee which is expected to focus on technical solutions, including:

  • interoperability
  • compatibility
  • terminology
  • process and method
  • privacy
  • cybersecurity.

It is not expected to focus on legal obligations and regulatory matters developed by governments and regulators.

Standards Australia CEO, Dr Bronwyn Evans, has described the importance of this work: “Chairing the ISO blockchain committee will place Australia in the perfect position to help inform, shape and influence the future direction of international standards to support the rollout and deployment of blockchain technology.”

Joining Australia on the new technical committee are 35 ISO member bodies including Germany, USA, Canada, Estonia, France, Japan, UK, Korea and many others.Blockchain is an emerging peer-to-peer database technology. By removing the need to reconcile transactions externally, blockchain has the potential to make interactions more efficient, less expensive and safer. This technology is increasingly being recognised as having the potential to profoundly transform markets, regulation, products and services across an unlimited range of sectors.

In Australia, there has been considerable interest in the implications of blockchain from both public and private sectors. In its recent budget, the Australian Government announced a key piece of research into the technology, to be led by the CSIRO’s Data61 and the Australian Treasury. There has also been significant investment in the technology by a variety of private sector entities such as fintech startups, venture capitalists and financial services institutions. Many of these entities are already involved in global collaboration projects relating to blockchain. International blockchain standards could play a key role in creating greater market certainty and confidence with the use of this potentially transformative technology.