The design of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency assembles a number of technological ideas including Blockchain, a cryptographicaly secured data structure representing an immutable historical record of transactions, with a protocol for the formation of consensus on an open network that enables censorship-resistant peer-to-peer exchange and is resilient to attacks on its security. Rules concerning the expenditure of value can moreover be enforced through a form of "smart contract": a computer program that automatically enforces the terms of a legal agreement.
It has come to be understood that the ideas underlying Bitcoin are useful not only for cryptocurrency, but also for many other types of multi-party applications that can benefit from technological mechanisms to decentralise the basis for trust. This has led to an explosion of developments, in both the technology and in the exploration of its potential applications, which include clearance and settlement (prominently, at the Australian Stock Exchange), ownership registries, certification systems, energy trading, international trade finance and exchange, supply chain and provenance.
In addition to opening exciting new directions for Computing research, these developments raise many societal questions. The recent burst of public interest in cryptocurrencies brings challenges to the existing financial order. The community developing these technologies has, moreover, developed a controversial new way to finance its activities, called Initial Coin Offerings, that raises issues for securities regulation.
This symposium considers Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies from multiple disciplinary perspectives, including technological, legal, economic, and commercial use case angles. The speakers include some of the leading Australian and international innovators, entrepeneurs and researchers working in the field.