Australian Government Allocates $700,000 for Blockchain Based Welfare Funds
The Australian government is looking forward to use blockchain technology for government services, specially welfare funds. Recently, the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), a division that works to provide information and government services online was allotted AU$700,000 to explore ways in which blockchains could be used. The new allocation was made as a part of the 2018-19 budget, signaling the seriousness with which the government is pursuing the distributed ledger technology.
The DTA will be focusing on bringing distributed welfare payments to life with these funds. It will also use the allocation to bring machine learning and artificial intelligence into government services, helping in automization and modernization.
The Deputy Statistician at Australian Bureau of Statistics, Randall Brugeaud, who is also the acting CEO of the DTA, said, “Our plan is to look for use cases across the Commonwealth with an initial focus on the welfare payment delivery system, then working with our digital service standard, we’ll conduct user research with a view to having a prototype by the end of next financial year.”
While speaking at the CeBIT conference held on May 16, he said that the agency will research how the new technology could be helpful to the government and the private sector. After this, they will create a prototype that will be used in the welfare payment delivery system. He said that the prototype will be ready by mid-2019 and added, “We’ll also build on work done across government already, such as the CSIRO’s work on distributed ledgers.”
The aim of the agency is to modernize the current government services and deliver them digitally to the citizens. Therefore, they will be working on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems as well. These systems will help in reducing the paper-intensive government service processes while ensuring that there is near-complete automation of these services.
The Australian public and private sector has openly welcomed the distributed ledger technology. The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has already piloted a new project for using DLT in exchange of securities. They have been working on the pilot for over 2 years now. In 2017, the ASX switched to a new system based on blockchains developed by Digital Asset, a US based company. They were earlier using the Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS) for facilitating transactions.
Brugeaud also mentioned, “We’re looking at how these technologies might offer automated service channels that are closer to the human experience; this might include intelligent chatbots or voice-enabled channels which are proving to be effective in other sectors.”
The government is serious about experimenting with and introducing the distributed ledger technology in their systems as soon as possible. They have even allotted $300 million in the next 4 years to completely disrupt their welfare payment systems.
The DTA also has a Govpass project in the making which will likely go into pilot in October this year. This project is designed for making government dealings more user-friendly through a digital identity system. All login avenues that are used to access different government services will now be clubbed for the user’s ease. The agency will also be working to bring business registration, Centrelink services, student services and grants management online for smoother management.