The current landscape

Distributed Ledger Technology is a revolutionary new approach to database management that's set to bring about some significant changes in existing Australian industries, and seed new ones.

In Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) data is shared openly among users of the database with changes to that data validated by consensus. In traditional models of databases and ledgers, information is centralised and verified by intermediaries such as lawyers, accountants, bankers. As such, DLT is often called disruptive technology because it cuts out the need for these third parties.

Blockchain is a form of DLT that connects different parties over the internet to provide a secure and trustworthy record of their transactions (both financial and non-financial), without giving control to a third party.

DLTs offer users a single source of truth and mutual oversight via a distributed digital ledger, thus building trust and integrity. The adoption of this technology presents opportunities for supply chains, government registries, financial and insurance services, global trade, blockchain for courts, and could even usher in a new phase of monetary systems.

Australia is especially primed for a DLT and blockchain transformation. We are already home to blockchain applications in bonds operations, smart programmable money and international standards. Australia currently chairs the International Standards Organisation’s development of blockchain and other DLT standards.

The video below illustrates how blockchain can be used in food provenance, through a distributed and trustworthy database that proves the physical history of a piece of meat.

[On a black background, a pale green hexagonal pattern wipes down the top of frame and out of the bottom of frame, as the logos for Data61 and the CSIRO appear above the text, "Creating our data driven future" with the website address ""

In an animation, on a pale green background, a cow wears a blue prize ribbon.

On a map, lines arc from locations in Australia to locations in New Zealand and throughout Asia.

Blue prize ribbons are stuck on crates. A masked figure pushes a crate marked "Fake Meat" toward them. A ribbon falls off a crate.]

VOICEOVER: Australia's high-quality beef is in high demand, particularly in Asia. However, food fraud, like counterfeit Aussie beef, costs the global food industry an estimated US$40 billion each year. This erodes the reputation of Australian brands.

[On a menu, "Premium Beef Steak" is marked with a blue prize ribbon.

In a restaurant, a couple eat steak.]

VOICEOVER: So how can consumers and businesses trust that their premium Aussie steak really comes from the paddock promised on the label?

[Long dotted lines run from skyscrapers into the air. Handshake symbols appear on some of the lines. The logos for Data61 and the CSIRO sit above the buildings.

Text: Blockchain Technology.

Oblong symbols are connected in a chain. Each symbol contains five coloured pentagons. Five pentagons move into the open oblong at the end of the chain. The oblong closes and a new empty, open oblong appears at the end of the chain.]

VOICEOVER: To solve this problem, CSIRO's Data61, Australia's leading data innovation group, is working to help industry adopt revolutionary Blockchain technology.

[Pictures appear in a series of six arrows representing a supply chain - a cow, a factory, transport, a warehouse, a shop, and a plate. Silos appear above the arrowsDotted lines move from the the arrows to silos. Some silos are not connected to some arrows.]

VOICEOVER: Agricultural supply chain transactions are typically recorded in isolated data silos, making it difficult and time-consuming to audit the origin of products and prevent imitations from sneaking in.

[The blockchain graphic replaces the silos. When a coloured pentagon appears above one arrow, then pentagons of the same colour soon appear above all the other arrows, and then inside the open blockchain oblong. Blockchains appear below the arrows as well. These blockchains are also coordinated with all the arrows.]

VOICEOVER: Blockchain technology, on the other hand, is not owned by any single party. Rather, it's operated by a collective. It provides neutral ground for all stakeholders in the supply chain to record their interactions on a distributed ledger.

[In the blockchain above the arrows, the dots are replaced by padlocks in every oblong. The blockchains below the arrows are replaced by blue prize ribbons and handshake symbols.

A magnifying circle highlights a blockchain's oblong. Ticks appear inside all the pentagons.]

VOICEOVER: Blockchain's transparency and inherent resistance to tampering creates a distributed network of trust and integrity. Which means anyone can check every step in the history of the goods throughout the supply chain.

[Circles containing food, then a cow  a factory and a truck are surrounded by concentric rings of dotted lines.

A handshake symbol is labelled 'Trust'. A tick inside a decorated circle is labelled "Food Safety". A prize ribbon is labelled "Quality Brands".

A padlock inside a circle is labelled "Secure Trade". A dollar sign in a circle is labelled "Finance".]

VOICEOVER: When it comes to food, having reliable data that shows exactly where and how ingredients were grown, processed and distributed is essential to establish trust and food safety, as well as build high-quality brands, improve efficiency and secure trade. It also creates opportunities for new kinds of finance and insurance. To collaborate with Data61, visit

[On a black screen, the logos for Data61 and the CSIRO appear above the text, "To collaborate with Data61, visit"]

What’s the beef about blockchain?


  • Designing software systems with blockchain as a component
  • Analysing and improving trustworthiness of blockchain to better understand the guarantees and limitations of different protocols. Researching human behaviour and patterns of use and misuse
  • Developing smart contracts
  • Data61 is one of the world’s top blockchain research organisations. We are number one in the world by research organisation and number two by country
  • We have authored five of the 30 most-cited blockchain research papers globally. In fact, Microsoft Academic Data shows that many of the most-cited blockchain research papers come from Australia, specifically CSIRO’s Data61

Explore our work

Leading research and publications

In June 2017, Data61 released two major reports into the future of blockchain technology for the Treasury:

The first report, Distributed Ledgers: Scenarios for the Australian economy over the coming decades, explores four plausible adoption scenarios of blockchain technology in Australian in 2030. This approach includes scenarios that are aspirational and transformative, and that establish a new equilibrium and represent collapse.

The second report, Risks and opportunities for systems using blockchain and smart contracts, selects three use cases to examine how blockchain systems can support new markets and business models. These include: agricultural supply chains, government registries and remittance payments.

Download the reports

Front cover of "Distributed Ledgers" report

Australian National Blockchain

Australian National Blockchain

In 2018, Data61 formed a consortium with law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and IBM to build Australia's first cross-industry, large-scale, digital platform to enable Australian businesses to collaborate using blockchain-based smart legal contracts.

Visit Australian National Blockchain for more information. 

Smart Money

In 2018, we collaborated with the Commonwealth Bank and successfully trialled a new type of smart money powered by blockchain. The prototype app saved time for its users and offered cost benefits to services. Trial modelling showed that implementing the app across the National Disability Insurance Scheme could offer economic benefits in the hundreds of million every year. The trial demonstrated the potential of smart money to better manage insurance payouts and manage charities and trusts in Australia.

Learn more about our Making Smart Money project.

Red Belly Blockchain

Red Belly Blockchain was developed in collaboration with the University of Sydney's Concurrent Systems Research Group as a solution to scalability issues that have plagued previous generations of blockchain systems.

These include significant energy use, information processing speeds and faulty transaction processing. Our technology has been tested on Amazon Web Services’ with great results, showing potential for faster processing of financial transactions and microgrids that use peer to peer trading to transform the energy sector.

Read about our work with Red Belly Blockchain.

Media clips and related articles

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