Commonwealth Bank media release


Commonwealth Bank and COALA today announced an international line-up of blockchain experts will speak at the Sydney Blockchain Workshops. The conference brings together regulators, policy makers, technologists and media to better understand the upcoming challenges and opportunities of blockchain technologies, and their impact on the current social, economic and political order.

“From New York to London, Dubai to Singapore, and Brasília to Sydney, governments are beginning to realise blockchain technology represents fundamental infrastructure and are in various stages of addressing how the appropriate policy and rules can enable both innovation and governance goals,” COALA co-founder Constance Choi said. “The Blockchain Workshops, among other things, facilitate global innovation by engaging and educating stakeholders and enabling the establishment of better regulation through a clearer understanding of the global policy framework with open dialogue from diverse experts, academics and innovators,” she said.

The Sydney Blockchain Workshops will include:

  • Internal workshops on 7-8 December: invitation-only workshops which consist of multi-disciplinary working groups that explore four different uses of blockchain technology: identity and privacy; smart contracts for financial transactions; jurisdictional issues and financial regulations; and security and governance.
  • Global regulatory roundtable on 9 December: invitation-only roundtable for regulators, designed to address the significant uncertainty about the regulatory treatment of digital currencies (such as Bitcoin) and blockchain technology both locally and globally.
  • Public conference on 10-11 December: bringing in-depth discussion about this cutting-edge technology to Australian shores for the first time, the public conference will facilitate innovation through education about the potential uses of cryptoledger technology and explore what the post-disruptive future could - and should - hold.
  • Innovation challenge on 9-10 December: an Asia-Pacific wide ‘hackathon’ competition where teams will focus on creating unique blockchain applications, not commercial ventures. All material produced by the innovation challenge will be open-source.

Commonwealth Bank Group Executive and CIO David Whiteing said the event offers a unique opportunity for Asia-Pacific regulators, government officials, academics and technologists to hear from some of the world’s leading blockchain academics and experts.

“The conference provides both entry-level education and in-depth discussions about the huge potential of distributed ledgers and the resulting economic, commercial, legal and social policy questions,” he said.

“Blockchain has the potential to transform banking in the way that the internet transformed how we buy music and watch movies. It’s an exciting time in the development of this technology and our involvement means Commonwealth Bank is set to be at the forefront of this in Australia for the benefit of our customers,” Mr Whiteing said.

The Sydney Blockchain Workshops are the fifth in a series of global events held by COALA. Previous workshops have been held at Harvard/MIT (January 2015), Stanford (March 2015), University College London (June 2015) and the Hong Kong University for Science and Technology. Academic partners include Australia’s University of Technology Sydney (UTS) as well as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, CERSA and CNRS.

Corporate partners for the Sydney workshops include Commonwealth Bank and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Fellow and Chief Technologist Financial Services, Daniel Biondi said “Blockchain has a promising future and could transform the financial services industry – potentially overhauling a legacy global banking system leading to much faster payments, including streamline B2B payments.”

“Bringing the whole ecosystem of stakeholders together through intellectual discussions along with the additional exploratory sessions from the Blockchain Workshops, will shed new light on how we can tap into this knowledge. Ultimately, this conference will help the industry to create proof of concepts and understand the business processes that we could potentially address first,” Mr Biondi said.

COALA is a collaboration between academics, lawyers, technologists and entrepreneurs who are committed to driving research, policy and infrastructure-building in the blockchain ecosystem.


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