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‘Nerdy’ Australian PM Pushes Blockchain ‘Agenda’ to Take On Big Banks


Scott Morrison

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Australia’s newly-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison is pushing his agenda of backing blockchain technology to disrupt and bring “much tougher competition” to the big banks and other sectors in the country.

Speaking to reporters within weeks of being sworn in as Australia’s newest prime minister, Scott Morrison was asked [full clip below] about his position on cryptocurrencies in the financial system.

The question: “Would you accept the innovation of cryptocurrencies to ease some of the inefficiencies in the banking sector?”

In response, the former treasurer claimed to have done his research into cryptocurrencies but stopped short of deeming it the cure for the industry.

“No, I don’t think that’s the answer,” he stated. “I looked a lot at cryptocurrencies when I was treasurer.”

“Let me be nerdy for a sec,” he told the assembled reports, switching gears as he threw his support behind blockchain tech, the core innovation powering cryptocurrencies, instead.

“What has been done with distributed ledger technologies and blockchain, working in the financial sector, that’s going to open up massive opportunities,” Morrison said. “Consumer data right, the open banking reforms and the legislation coming forward….that’s going to transform the Australian banking system,” he added.

Notably, he opined:

“But the thing I like about it most – it’s going to deliver much tougher competition to the big banks. ‘Business as usual’ for the big banks won’t be continuing…Smaller banks and new technologies can be used to give greater power to customers.”

A FinTech Proponent

While not directly endorsing cryptocurrencies, Morrison has previously pushed favorable laws for domestic cryptocurrency adopters. In early 2016, the then treasurer confirmed the government was working toward removing the double taxation of transactions involving cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

For several years, Australians were taxed twice for crypto transactions – first the goods and services (GST) tax on the product purchased and another GST levied on the cryptocurrency used in the payment.

“If you pay $4 in bitcoin for a coffee, you will pay 40c GST for the coffee, and 40c again for the bitcoin you used to pay for the coffee,” explained Daniel Alexiuc, CEO of Australian bitcoin startup Living Room of Satoshi, speaking to CCN in 2016.

A year ago, nearly to the day, the government introduced the bill to remove the double tax.

“The Bill will ensure that Australians are no longer charged GST on purchases of digital currency, allowing it to be treated the same way as physical money for GST purposes,” Morrison said at the time. “The law change will retrospectively apply from 1 July 2017, in line with the 2017 Budget announcement.”

The following month, the government published draft laws for introducing a regulatory sandbox, labeled a “game changer” by Morrison.

Before walking away from the interview as now-prime minister, Morrison is bullishly backing blockchain technology to disrupt industries beyond finance.

He stated:

Whether it’s in electricity prices or in banking, that’s my agenda. I believe in it. My team believes in it. Australians can trust me on it.

Featured image from Flickr/Australian Embassy Jakarta.

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