Blockchain banter with Darcy Allen
As a postdoctoral research fellow in the Blockchain Innovation Hub at RMIT University, Darcy acts as a link between academia and the government by helping them to understand blockchain technology.
Besides being a regular media commentator in the mainstream media, Darcy has appeared as an expert witness to provide evidence before a range of state and federal parliamentary inquiries including on criminal justice reform, new technologies and the economics of regulation.
“Academia is greatly informed by the idea that you will have to take your findings and explain them to people. Governments and industry don’t necessarily have the time to learn everything there is about blockchain technology,” he said.
“They simply need to learn enough so they can make informed decisions. One of the roles of academia is to provide that bridge of information.”
Blockchain technology is a decentralised way to govern information that gives much-needed accountability. It enables everyone to hold ledgers of information, when traditionally they are held by centralised organisations such as a bank or government.
Thus when currencies like Bitcoin is backed by blockchain technology, transfer fees are cut out and the process is more efficient, returning the control to its users.
Blockchain may be largely associated with cryptocurrencies, but Darcy says this is just the first application of the technology.
Darcy believes that global supply chains will be the next big application of blockchain technology. It could change the handling of information about the sources and characteristics of products.
“What that means for consumers isn’t just the potential for lowered costs. It means that when you go to a restaurant and order some fish, you might be able to scan a code on the menu to show you where that fish came from. The information on blockchains can be a completely trusted public source of information, taking fraud out of the global supply chain.”
With this philosophy in mind, Darcy helped launched the Blockchain Innovation Hub at RMIT.
Established in 2017, the hub features an interdisciplinary team of social scientists who are interested in using existing social science theory to understand blockchain technology.
They contributed to a course at RMIT Online called ‘Developing Blockchain Strategy’, which started this year in March. Designed to teach people how to develop a blockchain strategy to change their existing work industry, it features a range of industry mentors and each student is assigned one.
“Many mid-level managers across Australia are experts in their field who have heard of blockchain. We want to give people the tools to go back to their company and their own blockchain strategy,” said Darcy.
“This course is so valuable because it allows people to become the blockchain expert in their companies.”
Since launching the course, the Blockchain Innovation Hub has seen a wide range of people who sign up for the course including undergraduates, developers and even retirees.
“Blockchain is a technology that cuts across every single industry,” said Darcy.
“It’s such an exciting phase, that very beginning phase of this new technology.”
Darcy completed the RMIT Doctor of Philosophy as well as an RMIT Bachelor of Business (Economics and Finance) with first class honours.
“Blockchain is a technology that cuts across every single industry” - Darcy Allen