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“One of the strongest blockchain communities in Australia”: NEM Foundation opens blockchain hub in Melbourne

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

NEM Foundation

Jason Lee, NEM expansion director for Australia and New Zealand. Source: Supplied.

NEM Foundation is opening a new blockchain hub in Melbourne, to help startups understand how the technology could help their business, and to engage and educate the general public.

The foundation, designed to promote the NEM blockchain platform and its cryptocurrency XEM, already has a hub in Brisbane, as well as in Westport, New Zealand, both of which opened within the past year.

Speaking to StartupSmart, NEM Australia lead Jian Chan says Melbourne has established itself as “one of the strongest blockchain communities in Australia”.

Jason Lee, NEM’s expansion director for Australia and New Zealand adds the hub is focused on encouraging uptake and development of blockchain technology. There is already a strong network of startups and entrepreneurs working in the blockchain space in Melbourne, he says.

“We want to be near that activity,” he adds.

Based at Stone and Chalk, within Melbourne’s new Innovation Hub, NEM is already connecting startups, professionals, law firms and other organisations that have experience in blockchain.

Its aim is to get those people involved in a wider discussion and to create a physical hub “so they have somewhere to go”.

Chan and Lee will also be having “high-quality conversations” with small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as listed companies and corporates — in any industry — that could benefit from blockchain technology.

The “flexibility of our technology” means it has applications in various spaces, Chan says.

Founded in 2015, NEM is “a blockchain dinosaur”, he adds, and well-placed to support or advise businesses exploring the technology.

There is “a lot of information that is convoluted and sometimes misleading”, Chan says.

The hub will “educate, engage and encourage mass adoption” of blockchain, Lee adds, helping to build awareness and adoption, and helping businesses adopt blockchain — if it’s right for them.

“We have to make sure blockchain can help them in the first place,” Lee says.

For startups, it’s important to be aware of blockchain and to think about how it could help your business, Chan says.

“There’s interest from the public,” he says.

Large organisations, banks and tech companies are looking into the technology, and “all the top students” are studying it, he adds.

“If the talent is there that’s where the future will be,” he says.

“Startups and SMEs cannot afford to miss out.”

And, while cryptocurrency may have taken a bit of a downturn, Chan is confident that it will see a resurgence.

“Everything in life moves in seasons and cycles,” he says.

“Now, we’re probably in a downturn season, but the natural path will take its place … I’m confident in that,” he says.

“The world of crypto moves at a velocity that is not normal — things move very fast and radically.

“Entrepreneurs that are the most successful are the most adaptable to change … most resourceful, given the cycle they’re in.

“Wait for the next time it becomes summer again,” he adds.

That said, Chan accepts there are still sceptics of cryptocurrency, and blockchain in general — and he’s okay with that.

“Scepticism is very healthy,” he says, “it legitimises what we’re doing here.”

“If there weren’t any sceptics I would be quite afraid,” Lee adds.

NOW READ: Don’t get caught up in the crypto bubble, Freelancer’s Matt Barrie warns startups

NOW READ: Cryptocurrency use could “bring the internet to a halt”, but blockchain is a different story, says Bank for International Settlements

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is a reporter at StartupSmart.

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