Rehashed – #4 Aotearoa: Land of Flying Taxis and Blockchain
New Zealand as a Burgeoning Blockchain Hub
Technology is New Zealand’s fastest growing and third-biggest exporter, with our top 200 companies doing in excess of $10 billion in annual export revenue. But it’s not just the numbers that tell the story of New Zealand’s burgeoning technology ecosystem. Simply look at Kittyhawk, Larry Page’s (founder of Google) flying taxi company, currently in development in Christchurch. And whether for business or an isolated recluse, Silicon Valley goliaths have an interest in our slice of paradise as well. So, what is the long-term opportunity for New Zealand with the emergence of Blockchain technology?
Recently, a consortium of local and international blockchain experts put pen to paper on what they saw as the potential for blockchain in New Zealand. The report presents policy and regulatory recommendations. It suggests specific actions outlined for the relevant government agencies, including the FMA and IRD. Key outtakes from the report included:
- Blockchain by nature is decentralized and breaks down physical barriers. New Zealand need not be held back by its geographic isolation in this industry
- Local government should show leadership with a regulatory framework that gives clarity to participant businesses and consumers
- Blockchain technology is hugely applicable to key New Zealand industries, including Food Production, Energy and Healthcare
The report, New Zealand: Unlocking Blockchain’s Potential, is mandatory reading for New Zealanders with an interest in technology, particularly blockchain.
It’s obvious that there is a real opportunity for our country to become an international quality Fintech/Blockchain hub. New Zealand has a track record of not shying away from progressive actions in the past; I am hopeful that we will see strong political leadership on this front.
Wall St. Weighs In
Cryptocurrencies are the first asset class where retail investors have had easy access ahead of institutions. Retail investors (aka ‘mom and pop’ investors), largely led by the technology and cypherpunk community, have been responsible for driving the crypto market over the last few years.
However, as the asset class becomes legitimised through regulatory clarity, and the launch of traditional financial vehicles (such as the CBOE and CME launching futures products at the end of last year), the barriers holding back institutional investors continue to erode.
Notable institutional headlines this week included news that Barclays is launching a cryptocurrency desk. In investing in the space, Barclays will join the likes of Fidelity who have been involved since 2016 in mining and research operations, and Goldman Sachs who has reportedly been exploring opening a cryptocurrency trading desk for the past few months. These votes of confidence by reputable financial entities help to validate cryptocurrencies in the eyes of institutional investors. For example, hedge funds and endowments.
Despite digs at the bubble-like market, even at January highs, the total market cap of cryptocurrencies did not surpass that of Apple’s market capitalisation. For another point of comparison, the total cryptocurrency market cap is currently a touch over USD $300 billion, comparatively the global equities market is over 266 times bigger at around USD $80 trillion. As an emerging asset class, cryptocurrencies are still a minuscule part of the investment landscape. As such, there remains immense bandwidth for institutional in-flows.
In the News
Australian cryptocurrency providers continue to express their support for the incoming regulation (talked about in depth in last weeks column here) regarding cryptocurrency tax. Bit Trade, one of Australia’s oldest cryptocurrency exchanges is the latest to join the AUSTRAC party.
MasterCard is hiring 175 technology developers, including blockchain specialists, to focus on creating more efficient payment channels.
In its second acquisition of 2018, Coinbase acquired the decentralized browser Cipher.
More regulatory moves in the U.S: both the SEC and the DOJ (meaning criminal charges) just filed complaints against the issuers of the ICO tokens that DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather famously endorsed, charging the issuers with fraud.
A fascinating read regarding how New Zealand might be affected by the rise of Artificial Intelligence.
April 29th – Discussion on the intersections of Blockchain, Automation and AI at the University of Auckland, grab a ticket if interested
Thanks for your company, stay tuned for next week’s edition of Rehashed.
View previous issue: Rehashed – #3 Taxing Times: IRD releases Cryptocurrency Tax Guidance
View next issue: Rehashed – #5 Blockchains, Banking and the Beehive
About the author:
Capital markets to crypto convert. From Christchurch → Boston → New York, Freddie became intrigued by the potential of the digital asset economy after randomly plucking a book on bitcoin off a New York library bookshelf in 2016. Her parents are thrilled that she is chasing magic money on the internet.
Disclaimer: The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed by the author do not represent the opinion of BitPrime.