August 29, 2018
Author: Dee McGrath, Managing Partner, IBM Global Business Services, A/NZ
Two of Australia’s leading companies, IBM and Herbert Smith Freehills have joined forces with the government agency, the CSIRO’s Data61, to shape the nation’s digital economy. In an Australian first, these companies have formed a consortium, collectively known as the Australian National Blockchain (ANB). As it aims to design and build the nation’s first large-scale, enterprise-grade and industry agnostic digital platform, the development of this new platform using IBM Blockchain will represent a significant new piece of infrastructure. It will provide businesses with a secure, cost-effective means to digitise contracts, exchange data and confirm the authenticity and status of legal contracts.
For the legal industry, success depends on the promise of transparency and auditability for all participants. The use of blockchain empowers trading partners with permission sharing of immutable records, creating consensus and trust. With the ANB, organisations will be enabled to digitally manage the lifecycle of a contract, not just from negotiation to signing, but also continuing over the term of the agreement, with reliable and permission-based access among parties in the network, removing friction in the transaction process. The service will provide organisations of all sizes the ability to use blockchain-based smart contracts to trigger business processes and events.
The blockchain ecosystem
The ANB’s initial focus will be to create an ecosystem on which business can run ‘smart legal contracts’ (SLC), but in time, it is expected that the ANB will support a wide range of diverse business applications. These SLC’s will contain ‘smart clauses’ which can speak to external data sources like Internet of Things (IoT) device data and self-execute if specific conditions are met. “Technologies like blockchain are set to completely transform the legal industry and the wider business landscape as we know it. This presents a huge opportunity for agile and forward-thinking firms”, says Natasha Blycha, a Blockchain and Smart Legal Contract Lead, from Herbert Smith Freehills.
From automating processes, moving away from paper systems, simplifying supply chains, better managing contracts and trusted sharing of information between customers and regulators, the ANB will place Australia as a world-class destination for efficient, streamlined business. “Blockchain will be to transactions what the internet was to communication – what starts as a tool for sharing information becomes transformational once the adoption is widespread”, says Paul Hutchison, Vice President and Partner, Cognitive Process Transformation, IBM Global Business Services. The ANB will soon to be inviting regulators, banks, law firms and other Australian businesses across different industries to get involved – this is just the beginning.