December 14, 2018, 12:45 hours
A new report commissioned by the New Zealand innovation agency suggests that the country is a breeding ground for blockchain technology.
The New Zealand Innovation Agency has published an opportunity report on blockchain technology and distributed ledger (DLT)) which identifies digital identities based on blockchain as a way for the country to demonstrate competence in the sector.
Callaghan Innovation is a "crown entity" in New Zealand, which means it is an independent agency in charge of the government. Its specific role is to help make the companies of the country more forward-looking. The agency gets in touch with government partners, research institutes and other stakeholders, with the goal of increasing business investment in research, development and, of course, in emerging technologies.
The good news
With technology the third export sector of New Zealand, the report, entitled "Accounting books distributed e Blockchains Opportunities for Aotearoa New Zealand, "focuses on what blockchain could offer the economy of the country. To produce the report, the lead author Joshua Vial has interviewed over 50 entrepreneurs, investors, government officials, academics and experts International.
The New Zealand legislation, the report states, is "broadly adequate" for the new sector. Even better, unlike other regions, no regulatory changes were needed to accommodate the emerging cryptocurrency and blockchain sector. For example, the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 regulates exchanges and Ico "appropriately" without limiting innovation. And the anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing law 2009 is already "sufficient" to cover both the exchanges and the issuers of tokens.
Like France and other countries, New Zealand's Inland Revenue deals with cryptocurrencies such as property for tax purposes – although the report qualifies that, given the international regulatory responses, the area "will require constant attention".
The opportunities presented in the report include high-paying technology jobs, high-value exports, the ability to attract high-growth companies and talent, an increase in access to growth capital and the chain effect of being a catalyst for other sectors. The report also aims at "significant" avenues of innovation for banking and financial services, the media industry and public services, as well as the benefits for international economies, especially developing countries.
The opportunities identified, however, lead to a series of considerations for New Zealand, both for the private sector and for the public sector.
These include the need to "unlock access" to banking services for blockchain companies and to promote New Zealand as blockchain friendly. There is a need to develop a "blockchain" inter-agency working group, a research center for "decentralized computer science" and a forum blockchain on the prevention of financial crime. Furthermore, the report recommends that the Financial Markets Authority create clearer guidelines for companies that launch security tokens, stating:
"New Zealand is well positioned to hit a equilibrium between consumer protection and ease of doing business. If New Zealand became the benchmark jurisdiction for the launch of quality security tokens, we could see a rapid influx of capital and talent into the country. "
The report also indicates early adoption by New Zealand of "electronic transfer of funds to the point of sale" (EFTPOS). He says that the country could now be a world leader in the adoption of "digital identity protocols" if it were to prioritize its adoption and digital inclusion. In this way, New Zealand could increase its value proposition "as a jurisdiction in which to test and launch disled tributedger technologies. "The report says:
"The widespread adoption of digital identity and access to digital services for all New Zealanders would help unlock the full potential of blockchain and distributed registries".
It is not unusual for a country to try to prioritize areas where it could attract international interest. Many other countries have aspirations to drive in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the examples are France and Malta respectively. Remarkable though, is New Zealand's choice of blockchain-based digital identities as a way to demonstrate the competence of the country's DLT.
Melanie Kramer is a freelance writer of FinTech, blockchain and cryptocurrency based between France and Canada. Melanie has studied and maintains an eager interest in global politics, business and the economy.
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