A lot has happened in Australia’s blockchain industry in 2018, and Micky has been there every step of the way!
Here’s how we ranked the 10 biggest news events of the year…
10. University of Sydney forms crypto partnership
In November, the University of Sydney signed signed a landmark agreement with emerging cryptocurrency project Fantom, which aims to compete with the likes of Ethereum and EOS.
Fantom (FTM), which was established in South Korea, has no shortage of money since raising AU$55M in its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in June of this year, and agreed to sponsor university scholars to help build their smart contract technology.
For a University established 168 years ago, it waas an exciting leap into a new and rapidly evolving field.
“As educators, it’s our job to provide students with as much experience and as many tools as possible to succeed in the industries of today,” said University of Sydney Associate Professor Bernhard Scholz.
“Blockchain has played a dominant role in the evolution of programming, and we look forward to contributing its advancement through our work with Fantom.”
9. Jamie Skella leaves Horizon State
Shockwaves were sent through the Australian cryptocurrency community, when Jamie Skella announced he was walking away from promising blockchain project Horizon State.
Mr Skella, a prominent and respected blockchain pioneer, announced his reasons for the decision on Twitter.
“With Horizon State on a path broader than my original vision, the foundations for product development solidifying, and the birth of my first child, I’ve decided now is the time to focus on family,” Mr Skella said.
It has been 3 years since my foray into democracy began. With Horizon State on a path broader than my original vision, the foundations for product development solidifying, and the birth of my first child, I’ve decided now is the time to focus on family. https://t.co/BoJ6fOp1PF
— Jamie Skella (@JamieSkella) August 22, 2018
In a post on Medium, Mr Skella went on to assure Horizon State followers that the platform has a strong future.
“We’ve inspired half a dozen new companies to enter this space … and attracted the attention of some of the most innovative government and politicians currently in power,” he said.
“I’m incredibly proud of the impact we’ve already had, even considering there’s so much product work still ahead of us.”
Horizon State has since formed a partnership with a New Zealand political party, and launched a high-profile trial with a world famous soccer team.
8. Federal Budget includes money for blockchain
Budget papers revealed $700,000 would be invested to ‘investigate’ areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for Government service.
A further $200,000 was pledged to supporting Australia’s global leadership in the development of blockchain technology standards.
7. An Australian island “tokenised” (but not)
In September, it was announced Queensland’s Great Keppel Island was set to undergo a massive redevelopment, which would be funded by a $300m security token offering (STO).
The plan, supported by all levels of government, was believed to be the world’s largest crypto property deal and was to result in the world’s first ‘tokenised’ island.
The consortium behind the plan launched a website and released a promotional video which featured Australian golf star, Greg Norman.
However, the tokenisation plans were derailed when the leaseholder of the island, Tower Holdings, announced the sale of its lease to a Singapore-Taiwanese company known as Wei Chao. The Security Token Offering never happened.
6. Scams and more scams
Scammers will always scam. And in 2018 they were busy.
In March, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) issued an urgent warning about a Bitcoin tax scam.
Fraudsters were impersonating the ATO and demanding the cryptocurrency as a form of payment for fake tax debts.
Assistant Commissioner Kath Anderson said people using digital currency to conduct their criminal activity was an alarming trend.
“We became aware of scammers seeking payment in Bitcoin last year. So far we have seen over $50,000 paid in Bitcoin to scammers claiming fake ATO tax debts,” Ms Anderson said.
In September, Police in South Australia revealed scammers impersonating staff from the Australian Tax Office had lured victims to Bitcoin ATMs – fleecing them of thousands of dollars.
Fraudsters have also targeted users of the Trezor hardware wallet on multiple occasions.
A sophisticated phishing scam tricked some into giving up their hard earned crypto. The scam was unique in that the URL used by the hackers was somehow the same as the real URL.
The company, SatoshiLabs, said it was startled to find a one-to-one copy of ‘Trezor One,’ which has been manufactured by a “different, unknown vendor.”
“A fake Trezor tries to replicate the original to the bone,” SatoshiLabs said in a blog post.
5. Commonwealth Bank uses Ethereum as executive joins EOS
In July, Australia’s Commonwealth Bank (CBA) announced it was using the Ethereum blockchain to export fresh food overseas.
Then, in Augusts, it was chosen by the World Bank to deliver the world’s first blockchain bond.
The $AUD Kangaroo bond will be issued and distributed on a blockchain platform operated by the World Bank in Washington and CBA in Sydney.
James Wall, an executive at CBA, said it’s an example of the bank collaborating with other leading institutions, government bodies and corporates to innovate through blockchain.
“We believe that this transaction will be groundbreaking as a demonstration of how blockchain technology can act as a facilitating platform for different participants,” Mr Wall said.
“We are delighted to have partnered with the World Bank and fully support its vision of making innovative use of technology such as blockchain to increase the efficiency of financing solutions to better achieve their goal to end extreme poverty.”
In May, Commonwealth Bank Chief Financial Officer Rob Jesudason left the bank to take an executive role at the company behind the cryptocurrency EOS, which at the time was the fifth largest coin globally.
4. Prime Minister reveals he ‘believes in blockchain’
In September, newly elected Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed he “believes” in the disruptive power of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.
Mr Morrison, who won a Liberal party ballot on August 24 to secure the leadership, told reporters that we’re seeing the “biggest change in our payment rail system … for decades and decades.”
“Distributed ledger technologies and Blockchain, working in the financial sector, that’s going to open up massive opportunities,” Mr Morrison said.
“I mean the consumer data rights, the open banking reforms that we’re putting in place,
and that legislation will be coming forward. That’s going to transform the Australian banking system.
“The thing I like about it most is it’s going deliver much tougher competition for the big banks.
“And business as usual for the big banks won’t be continuing.”
“I want greater customer power in our economy, whether it’s in electricity prices, or whether it’s in banking.
“That’s my agenda. I believe in it, and my team believes in it.”
Mr Morrison made the comments at the end of a lengthy “doorstop” on September 7.
The final question asked by an individual involved in Melbourne-based cryptocurrency payments start-up Davinci Pay.
“Would you accept the innovation of cryptocurrencies to ease some of that inefficiency in the banking sector?” The Prime Minister was asked.
The response from Mr Morrison negative.
“No, I don’t think that’s the answer. I don’t,” he replied.
He then, however, went on to talk about the benefits of blockchain.
3. Brisbane airport accepts cryptocurrencies
Early in the year it was announced travellers arriving or departing Brisbane airport would be able to use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at its restaurants, shops and stores.
The unprecedented digital currency airport experience is thanks to TravelbyBit’s cryptocurrency payment system.
Roel Hellemons, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) General Manager Strategic Planning and Development, said, “many people around the world have made money investing in cryptocurrencies and a lot of these people travel internationally, so it makes sense to offer a digital currency experience within our terminals.
“We’re also proud to be the first airport in the world to achieve this in partnership with a small local start-up business such as TravelbyBit, whose pioneering thinking is drawing attention to Brisbane as a serious breeding ground of innovative thinking.
“This is just the beginning for us as we hope to expand the digital currency option across the business, so watch this space,” Mr Hellemons said.
Since, then TravelbyBit has announced the famous Bundaberg Rum distillery could be among dozens of businesses and tourist attractions in the Queensland city of Bundaberg soon to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The project was assisted by a $100,000 Queensland Government grant.
“TravelbyBit has devised a clever way to make it easier for visitors to our state to pay for their purchases with a growing number of local businesses accepting cryptocurrency payments,” said the state’s Innovation Minister Kate Jones.
The world’s biggest crypto exchange, Binance, has also provided funding to TravelbyBit, with the crypto travel start up to receive a cool AU$3.48m.
2. Power Ledger endorsed by Sir Richard Branson
In a huge endorsement of blockchian technology, Australian energy sharing project Power Ledger won the 2018 Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), after impressing a judging panel which included Sir Richard Branson.
The event – held on the Billionaire’s private island – is the world’s largest start-up competition and gives winners enormous opportunities for success.
“To say we are thrilled to be crowned winners … is an understatement,” Power Ledger said in a Medium post.
“Winning this competition provides us with unprecedented access to key investors, high profile serial entrepreneurs, and innovators and mentors who can help us scale — including Sir Richard Branson himself!”
It wasn’t the only award for Power Ledger this year, with the chair and co-founder of the company, Dr Jemma Green, taking out the FinTech category at the 2018 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards.
Earlier in 2018, Dr Green was named Australia’s ‘most influential blockchain pioneer’ in an article by micky.com.au
1. The crash
This is the story that just can’t be ignored. The price of Bitcoin fell by more than 80% in 2018, and most altcoins were hit even harder.
Micky’s first article about the falling prices didn’t appear until August 14. At the time, American digital asset strategist Meltem Demirors told CNBC that, as with early internet stocks, real traction will come in time.
“New technologies that shift the paradigm take a long time to really understand,” Ms Demirors said.
Since then, prices have continued to fall but there is possibly hope on the horizon for long term investors.
Digital assets platform Bakkt will launch in January of 2019, while Van Eck has put forward a compelling case for the approval of a Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (ETF).
In November, a cryptocurrency Exchange Traded Product launched onEurope’s fourth largest stock exchange and is currently tracking the price of the top five cryptocurrencies.
So after all of that in 2018, what will 2019 bring? Subscribe to Micky and we’ll keep you up to speed. M