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Guest post by Raphael Grossman – Solicitor at Lehman Walsh Lawyers
Blockchain technology has been utilised for almost a decade and has propelled the cryptocurrency Bitcoin into ubiquity after its creation in 2008. However, even after all this time, we have barely scratched the surface of what blockchain technology is capable of bringing to the digital age. The colossal success of Bitcoin has led to a technological race to find the most lucrative and efficient ways of utilising blockchain technology in various industries. The legal profession is perfectly poised to reap the benefits of blockchain both as an integrator and as an advisor on the murky legal issues that will no doubt arise.
You may be wondering what exactly is a blockchain and why there is so much interest all of a sudden. The essential characteristics of blockchains are:
A prevalent problem caused by Bitcoin stems from the anonymity it provides as a cryptocurrency. Unlike other currencies, there is no way of tracing the users of transactions. The underworld has used this anonymity to fund illegal dealings such as selling narcotics, money laundering and even the hiring of hitmen. This has led to the regulation of Bitcoin usage in some countries and specifically in Australia Bitcoins are treated as personal assets and subject to Capital Gains Tax. The Australian government has shown an intention to further regulate Bitcoins to curb their use in illicit activities.
The cryptocurrency is seen as an intangible property rather than a money instrument under existing laws that dictate a double tax on digital currency-based payments.
However, Australia’s 2017 federal budget is (finally) putting an end to the double taxation of digital currencies like bitcoin as a part of a wider FinTech-forward agenda by the government.
In the legal industry, understanding and utilising Blockchain technology will be very advantageous. Drafting contracts and other legal documentation will likely find blockchains very useful for efficiency and cost savings. This will present an opportunity to for lawyers to offer significantly lower costs to business clients and provide lawyers with more time to deal with more complex matters.
In today’s world, where digital technology is more prevalent than ever for businesses and consumers alike, Blockchain technology looks like the next revolutionary technology so get on board the Blockchain train before it leaves the station.
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