The executive director of BlockchainNZ, Mark Pascall, has told the government’s economic development, science and innovation select committee that blockchain could inject growth into the New Zealand economy.
According to Pascall New Zealand has a golden opportunity to take a global leadership role in blockchain, and he has suggested the government should assign responsibility for blockchain to a minister, and form a cross-industry working group.
“Blockchain is more than a new technology, this is a new infrastructure as powerful as the Internet that could change how organisations, governments and society operate,” he said.
He claimed governments around the world are proactively moving forwards in the blockchain and cryptocurrency market, and warned that New Zealand could be left behind.
“We appeal to the government and Kiwi corporations to see blockchain as the next completely neutral, public digital infrastructure like the internet or email,” he said.
“We believe it is vital for the government to take a holistic approach to this once in a lifetime opportunity, potentially in the form of a ministerial responsibility and / or cross agency working group.”
According to Pascall New Zealand’s small size and agility is a big advantage because it is easy to get key people in the public and private sectors together and make decisions.
“New Zealand is known for its stable government and low corruption. Blockchain is all about trust and our international brand of trust and integrity is outstanding,” he said.
Callaghan also wants blockchain working group
Pascall’s suggestion of a cross-industry working group is not new. In December 2018 Callahan Innovation released a report into the potential of blockchain and distributed ledgers that included a call to government to convene a cross-agency blockchain working group.
It also said consideration could be given to establishing a multidisciplinary research centre with a focus on distributed ledger and blockchain technologies.
In December 2018 Callaghan also gave a $318,000 innovation R&D grant to SingleSource to advance its blockchain-based digital identity and risk-scoring platform.
It is one of a number of blockchain initiatives underway in New Zealand. Auckland based Trackback has used blockchain technology to confirm the provenance of a shipment of New Zealand's Manuka honey to customers in China.
And University of Waikato computer scientist Professor Steve Reeves has suggested that blockchain could be used to preserve the oral storytelling that is central to Māori culture.
Meanwhile, IBM’s head of blockchain and consulting practice leader for Australia and New Zealand, Rupert Colchester, has warned that blockchain governance remains a challenge for many organisations, even though, he says, the technology to build scalable, enterprise-ready blockchain solutions is ready for prime time.