Australia to Develop National Blockchain Strategy After NDIS Trial

The federal government has announced it will develop a national blockchain strategy in a bid to position Australia as a global leader in distributed ledger technology. The strategy is expected to focus on policy areas like “regulation, skills and capacity building, innovation, investment and international competitiveness and collaboration,” the government said.

The announcement comes just weeks after the Digital Transformation Agency urged for “pragmatism” around the use of blockchain in government.

The national strategy is backed by $100,000 in state funding, which will be partly used to fund the attendance of a number of fintechs at the Austrade Consensus Mission in New York. The government describes this event as a “landmark event for the blockchain industry”.

$70,000 of the funding will be used to invest in promising distributed ledger (DLT) startups.

The strategy

The strategy will be developed in consultation with experts from industry and academia, as well as CSIRO’s digital arm Data61, who spearheaded much of the government’s investigations into blockchain using the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Partnering with Commonwealth Bank (CBA), Data61 developed a world-leading app to explore the potential for blockchain technology to create ‘smart money’.

The trial, called “Making Money Smart”, aimed to enhance the financial wellbeing of participants and service providers in the NDIS through the use of programmable money. By attaching conditions, the ‘smart money’ knew what it could be spent on, who it can be spent by, and when it can be spent.

Sophie Gilder, Head of Experimentation and Blockchain, Innovation Lab CBA said: “Programmable money represents an opportunity to re-envisage how we think about money and how payments function across the country.”

Trial results

Data61 and CBA revealed that after testing the app with ten NDIS participants and carers, as well as a small number of disability service providers, participants could save one hour to 15 hours per week – the average being three hours. For service providers, the potential annual cost savings as a percentage of revenue could be between 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent using the app.

Modelling by CBA also put the economic benefits of the app – using conservative estimates – as equal to “hundreds of millions of dollars annually” if the proof of concept was rolled out as a full-scale solution.

They did, however, concede that further work needs to be done on the app in order to deliver “refined solutions”.


The NDIS was selected as the first case study for the proof of concept as it involves highly personalised payment conditions. In the NDIS, participants have individualised plans that can contain multiple budget categories – each with different spending rules. The prototype app supported participants to manage their plan by enabling them to find, book and pay for services from NDIS service providers without the need for paperwork or receipts.

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