A new report from the Australian Computer Society (ACS) has revealed that blockchain has substantial challenges to overcome if it ever hopes to find success beyond cryptocurrency.

The publication, Blockchain Challenges for Australia, reveals some of the issues currently facing blockchain in Australia and around the world, including the technical, legal and educational hurdles the technology has to overcome.

The report was authored by the ACS Blockchain Advisory Committee, headed by the University of Sydney’s Vincent Gramoli, creator of the Red Belly Blockchain.

“Blockchain has some way to go before it becomes a mainstream technology,” said Dr Gramoli. “We have to solves issues of scalability, security, regulation and employment.”

“We’re already seeing blockchains have scalability issues. For example, the bitcoin blockchain hasn’t been fast enough to cope with the volume of transactions requested for some time, and it’s not designed to scale. And then there’s the fact that the competitive nature of mining has led to a massive amount of unproductive power usage – by some estimates as much as 61.4TWh per year, which is enough to power an entire country.”

“Then there are other issues, legal and regulatory. Should holdings in stored in encrypted blockchains be considered legal title? Is a ‘smart contract’ a legally binding contract? Those are the kind of issues we really need to solve for blockchain to live up to its potential.”

“The good news is that there are solutions for these problems and in this paper we wanted to explore how we get to those solutions.”

According to ACS President Yohan Ramasundara, blockchain remains a technology with tremendous potential for Australia.

“In Australia, we already a world leader in blockchain technology. We punch well above our weight in research and deployment,” said Mr Ramasundara.

“But to take that next step there are issues that need to be addressed. We need to figure out how we can integrate the technology into our legal, technical and educational systems – which is why we’ve put out this paper now. We also need to address the skills shortage. If we can do that, then blockchain remains a potentially revolutionary technology in which Australia can lead the world.”