Blockchain and the Government’s $1 Million of Lip Service

The median price for a four-bedroom house in Footscray these days is $1.02 million. That’s a fair whack for a house. But commonplace these days.

To an individual household $1.02 million is a lot of money. Well, to anyone $1.02 million is a lot of money.

But would you say it’s a lot of money to the government? Would you consider $1 million would be much of a hit to their coffers?

I wouldn’t.

I’d say the government spends more on sports grants. And to clubs that probably don’t need it.

I mean does a Surf Life Saving club really need $70,000 for a new canteen?

Does a Rugby club without a women’s rugby team need $500,000 for new change rooms and facilities? Even if they didn’t have women’s facilities, did they really need $500,000 for it?

You get the point.

The government is happy to spend hundreds of millions on sports grants. Therefore $1 million probably isn’t that big a deal.

Actually $1 million demonstrates exactly the kind of care factor they give. That’s because it’s the amount they’re using to fund a huge economic driver.

Or at least could be a huge economic driver. They just don’t see it that way. Frankly, they don’t give a s*** about it.

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$1 million of lip service

In March 2019 the government announced a new project. It was a part of the big, vote-grabbing, headline printing National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

With NISA they would allocate $1 billion to help create jobs and build a stronger economy.

But this new project under the NISA umbrella…ooh it was exciting.

Announcing the new project, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham said:

It is vital Australia and our tech companies stay ahead of the game in one of the world’s fastest growing technology sectors.’

This new project was to be the new National Blockchain Roadmap.

The government would actively help the sector:

Focus on a number of policy areas including regulation, skills and capacity building, innovation, investment, and international competitiveness and collaboration.

To help kick-start this new project, some money would be needed.

The massive amount they decided to kick in?


That’s right, just $100,000.

This is following $700,000 to the Digital Transformation Agency to investigate benefits of blockchain for government payments. And another $350,000 to standards Australia to lead the development of ‘international blockchain standards’.

That means the grand total so far allocated to development of blockchain technology by the government would be $1.15 million. That means just a little more than the cost of a four-bedroom house in Footscray.

That’s how important the government sees blockchain technology.

Make no mistake, anything they say about blockchain tech is just lip service.

However this was all last March. Almost a year ago. Only now are they even ready to do anything.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews said recently:

I think what’s really exciting is the potential for blockchain to strengthen export opportunities, helping Aussie producers and manufacturers track their goods, which are in demand around the world because of our clean, green reputation.

She must be excited if they’ve kicked in just over a million bucks to roll this out (sarcasm intended).

How about $674 million?

The government thinks ‘blockchain’ will help unlock value in Aussie exports.


That’s certainly one aspect of blockchain technology with a novel application. Another, as we pointed out yesterday, is in an area like sports (which the government seems to love so much).

There are use cases like memorabilia and collectibles. Or perhaps licensing and image rights for leagues, teams, and players. You can even use it for fan engagement through team specific fan tokens.

Even just yesterday FC Barcelona, one of the world’s biggest soccer teams, announced a partnership with blockchain platform Chiliz.

Barcelona will issue ‘BAR’ fan tokens on the Socios platform. This is to let their fans use BAR tokens on a blockchain to vote and earn club rewards.

This is the kind of development in blockchain technology that the Aussie government is missing.

However not all hope is lost. Where the government refuses to take blockchain technology seriously, there are plenty of Aussie start-ups and companies actively developing blockchain and cryptocurrency opportunities.

As usual in Australia it won’t be the government that fosters innovation. No, it will be private industry.

Already there are companies — private and public — developing blockchain and cryptocurrency technology.

We mentioned Animoca Brands Corp Ltd [ASX:AB1] yesterday. But there are also companies like Identitii Ltd [ASX:ID8], Yojee Ltd [ASX:YOJ], and Fatfish Blockchain Ltd [ASX:FFG] that are all in some way or form involved in building out and developing opportunities with blockchain technology.

These are the kinds of drivers behind the Australian blockchain industry. They’re the kinds of companies that the government and the regulators should be encouraging and supporting…and providing resources for grants and funding too.

But no, that’s just sadly not the case. Meanwhile to understand what a country that supports opportunity looks like, the ‘state-sponsored’ Russian technology company Rostec will be spending around US$453 million (AU$674 million) on blockchain technology R&D.

The hopes of anything like that happening in Oz are slim. But where the government fails, the private sector will pick up the slack. And there will be plenty of opportunities in the small-cap sector to ride this breakthrough technology play.


Sam Volkering,
Editor, Money Morning

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Sam Volkering is an Editor for Money Morning and is small-cap, cryptocurrency and technology expert.

He’s not interested in boring blue chip stocks. He’s after explosive investments; companies whose shares trade for cents on the dollar, cryptocurrencies that can deliver life-changing returns. He looks for the ‘edge of the bell curve’ opportunities that are often shunned by those in the financial services industry.

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