The government has ringfenced $700,000 of the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) budget to explore the use of blockchain for 'government payments'.
The DTA – formerly known as the Digital Transformation Office – will "investigate areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for Government services" the Treasury stated in its Budget papers.
"The cost of this measure will be met from within the existing resources of the Digital Transformation Agency," Budget documents say.
Last year, CSIRO's Data61 group released two reports on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.
"Blockchains transactions can support services for payments, escrow, notarisation, voting, registration, and process coordination. These are key in the operation of government and industry," the report, Risks and opportunities for systems using blockchain and smart contracts, said.
"Blockchains could target improved government service delivery, and private blockchains could be used to facilitate information sharing and process coordination across agencies within government," the report continued.
A number of applications were described by Data61 including the use of smart contracts to automate the distribution of grants and social security payments; and for tax collection.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) meanwhile has said it expects the potential uses of distributed ledger technology to grow “exponentially” over time.
Government's globally are beginning to explore the potential of the technology. A number of US government departments are running pilots, while the government of Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates, has said it wants all visa applications, bill payments and license renewals to be done via blockchain by 2020.
Despite considerable hype around the technology a Gartner survey published this month revealed fewer than one per cent of CIOs globally have invested in or deployed any kind of blockchain-based solution within their organisations.
The survey of 3138 CIOs – including 113 in Australia and New Zealand – found adoption of distributed ledger technology to be almost non-existent, although eight per cent indicated they were at a ‘pilot execution’ stage.