Perth firm claims to have created first Australian blockchain

Perth firm claims to have created first Australian blockchain

Perth company Ledger Assets says it has created the first Australian blockchain and slashed the amount of energy used by the revolutionary technology.

Blockchain technology underpins the bitcoin virtual currency and a worldwide race is on to find other uses in areas from stock exchange settlements and financial transactions to medical records and art, energy and wine trading.

Ledger Assets’ blockchain is already supporting another Perth startup – Power Ledger – which is trialling peer-to-peer trading of surplus household solar power which has the potential to further disrupt the centralised power grid.

Ledger Assets is also exploring further opportunities in the arts, medical records and insurance sectors using its pioneering Australian blockchain, a “permissioned” – or private – blockchain it has dubbed “EcoChain”.

EcoChain can create one new block per minute, 10 times faster than bitcoin’s blockchain.

EcoChain is initially using the bitcoin blockchain as a backbone but it will go it alone in about two years when it is confident its technology is sound, co-founder Govert van Ek said.

Building blockchain’s integrity

“When our EcoChain matures, one day we’ll cut the umbilical [cord],” Dr van Ek told The Australian Financial Review. “We want to build up the integrity of the blockchain first.”

Blockchain provides a secure “distributed ledger” for verifying the creation, transfer and payments in respect of any asset, via 5000 to 7000 trusted “nodes” or computers around the world. Coins or transactions authenticated by one of the trusted nodes, called a “miner”, form blocks and are automatically added to the blockchain.

Traditional blockchains such as the one that underpins bitcoin or the US-based Ethereum blockchain use vast amounts of energy as many nodes compete to authenticate the latest “block” or transaction and add it to the chain, Dr van Ek said.

EcoChain uses the latest “proof of stake” blockchain mining protocol, under which whoever owns the “coin” or transaction gets “the right to mine subsequent blocks in the blockchain” – or in other words, to verify the transaction and add it to the blockchain.

This process – and access to solar power via Power Ledger – dramatically reduces energy usage and increases speed of settlement, Dr van Ek said.

He said Ledger Assets designed EcoChain as an Australian Blockchain for Australian companies only, at least initially. It has about 30 nodes but expects these to grow rapidly as Power Ledger expands its network of participating households and small firms.

He said Ledger Assets wants Australian companies and governments to get behind it as their American counterparts are doing with their R3 and Hyperledger projects, promising low fees from “proof of stake” mining and a low energy footprint.


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