Data61 uses IBM Blockchain for Australian smart legal contracts network

The Australian National Blockchain will allow local companies to use digitised contracts, exchange data, and confirm the authenticity and status of legal contracts.

CSIRO's Data61 has partnered with law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and tech giant IBM to build a blockchain-based smart legal contracts network.

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According to Data61, the Australian National Blockchain (ANB) will enable organisations to digitally manage the lifecycle of a contract, from negotiation through to signing, and continuing over the term of the agreement.

The service, built on the IBM Blockchain, will provide organisations with the ability to use blockchain-based smart contracts to trigger business processes and events, and businesses on the network will be able to use digitised contracts, exchange data, and confirm the authenticity and status of legal contracts.

ANB will provide smart legal contracts that contain smart clauses with the ability to record external data sources such as Internet of Things (IoT) device data, enabling these clauses to self-execute if specified contract conditions are met, Data61 explained.

"Technologies like blockchain are set to transform the legal industry and the wider business landscape as we know it," said Natasha Blycha, Blockchain and Smart Legal Contract lead from Herbert Smith Freehills.

"This presents a huge opportunity for agile and forward-thinking firms, and has potential to deliver significant benefits to our clients and the business community as a whole. Our clients are enthusiastic about process automation, and how it can support a move away from paper-based systems, simplify supply chains, and quickly and securely share information with customers and regulators."

Data61, IBM, and Herbert Smith Freehills will first test the concept as a pilot project. The consortium is already working with another Australian law firm to bring the ANB to market, the group said, and they plan on inviting regulators, banks, law firms, and other Australian businesses to participate in the pilot later this year.

Should the Australian pilot be successful, the consortium intends to roll out the technology to other markets beyond Australia.

"IBM Blockchain and the IBM Cloud provide the highest level of security to support even highly regulated industries such as healthcare and government, and IBM has extensive experience building blockchain networks and convening large consortia focused around solving important business problems," IBM Global Business Services vice president and partner for Cognitive Process Transformation Paul Hutchison said.

"Blockchain will be to transactions what the internet was to communication -- what starts as a tool for sharing information becomes transformational once adoption is widespread. The ANB could be that inflection point for commercial blockchain, spurring innovation and economic development throughout Australia."

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