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NZ needs to tackle predicted Libra onslaught

The national blockchain group has appealed to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her government to adopt a more dynamic attitude or it could prove costly to the New Zealand economy, given blockchain tech’s likely global impact.

BlockchainNZ executive director Mark Pascall has written to the PM encouraging the government to take a holistic approach to this opportunity or risk. It could set up a new ministerial responsibility or a cross-agency taskforce, or both.

Pascall says blockchain tech can accelerate New Zealand’s economic development.

“We advanced the idea that for blockchain tech to serve the public good, governments need to co-create policy frameworks with the private sector and focus on shaping the market outcome,” he says.

“Until last week, the New Zealand narrative on blockchain was lukewarm, assuming it could disrupt our financial systems and government at some point in the future.

“However, since Facebook announced that it plans to roll out a digital currency called Libra the narrative on its impact has grown louder and the expected timeframe has rapidly accelerated.

“The disruptive effects of Libra could arrive in New Zealand as early as next year, with potentially tremendous economic and regulatory implications across our society.

“We believe the opportunities arising from Libra for New Zealand are exciting and if supported by Government and industry could have a significant positive economic impact.”

Internationally, governments have been urgently reacting to the significance of the Libra announcement. The systemic impact on domestic and global monetary policies, tax systems and economic governance should not be underestimated.

France’s immediate response was to create a G7 taskforce to consider a co-ordinated response by regulators. The US Congress wants to hold hearings to understand the potential unprecedented impact on the global financial system.

Pascall says there are safeguards to consider but he strongly urged the PM to employ her robust leadership to identify and support growth opportunities in this space.

“The Facebook announcement has confirmed that blockchain and related decentralisation technologies are here to stay.

“We want to continue to build the ecosystem to make New Zealand a place to attract talent and capital and play a key part in the blockchain industry globally.

“We need to act boldly and quickly. We are committed to providing the PM with independent support and advice, to enable her to do so.”

BlockchainNZ, which is part of the NZTech Alliance, has worked hard to educate policy maker and politicians around threats and opportunities that blockchain and decentralised technologies present to New Zealand.

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